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Stricter requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship: the required period of residence to be extended

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 4.7.2024 13.59
Press release

The period of residence required for Finnish citizenship will be extended from the current five years to eight years starting from 1 October. This underlines successful integration as a prerequisite for being granted citizenship. It will also enable addressing security concerns more effectively than before. In addition, only time lived in Finland under a residence permit will be taken into account when calculating the period of residence.

On 4 July, the Government proposed that these amendments to the Citizenship Act be approved. The President of the Republic is scheduled to approve the amendments on Friday. 

One of the objectives set in the Government Programme is to tighten the requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship and encourage immigrants to integrate into Finnish society. The reform will be implemented in stages through three legislative projects. 

This first project will extend the required period of residence in Finland, which is one prerequisite for being granted citizenship based on an application. The second and third projects will tighten the requirements related to integrity and livelihood and introduce a citizenship test. The government proposals for the latter projects will be submitted to Parliament in autumn 2024 and spring 2025, respectively. 

In future, the extension of the required period of residence will also concern beneficiaries of international protection. In other words, once the amendment is in force, it will no longer be possible to derogate from the requirement on grounds of international protection. However, citizenship applications made by beneficiaries of international protection will be considered urgently, with the decision on granting citizenship made no later than one year after the applicant submitted their application.

With the amendment, the residence requirement for children aged 15 or over, spouses of Finnish citizens, stateless persons and applicants meeting the language proficiency requirement will be extended to five years from the current four. The two-year residence requirement for Nordic citizens and spouses of persons working at Finnish missions abroad will remain unchanged.

Changes in determining the period of residence for asylum seekers

With the amendment, only periods of residence with a residence permit will be taken into account when determining an applicant’s period of residence. This means that the time taken to process an asylum application will no longer count towards the period of residence. For beneficiaries of international protection in Finland, the approved period of residence will begin when they are issued a residence permit. 

Any stays in Finland without a residence permit will no longer be taken into account, in full or in part, under any circumstances when determining the period of residence. Similarly, the applicant's age, state of health or other comparable reason will no longer be grounds for approving a period of residence without a residence permit.

The reform will also shorten the periods of absence that can be included in the continuous period of residence. During the entire continuous period of residence, the applicant may stay abroad for one year in total, and no more than three months of this period may take place during the year preceding naturalisation. The goal is to ensure that applicants receiving Finnish citizenship are actually living in Finland.

In 2023, altogether 11,594 people were granted citizenship based on an application. The extension of the residence requirement for citizenship will potentially apply to about 10,000 people each year.

Hanna Pihkanen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 217, [email protected]

Orpon hallitusohjelma Turvallinen ja kriisinkestävä oikeusvaltio