Canadian Alexandre Marchand, 25, is the kind of immigrant Finland needs more of: highly-trained and hard-working. However, the bureaucracy in Finland does not always make life easy.

Marchand is working in an international Finnish company’s financial department, on a half-year fixed-term contract. He got a continuation of the employment contract, which meant at the same time that Marchand had to apply for a new work permit.

“I go through exactly the same process, just six months after a previous search, and I have to pay another 158-euro processing fee.”

In 2014, Marchand completed his Master of Science degree at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki. He told his story to the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat in March. “These situations happen quite often when people, organizations and the different levels of bureaucracy collide” says Petri Lautjärvi (shown in picture) from Finland Relocation Services, a company specializing in smooth work-based relocation. “The overall picture for all parties is unclear and what is required is not certain to anyone. The public officials are also not always aware of what the other ones need. Ask three different people and you’ll get three different answers.”

Marchand is one of the 18,000 skilled immigrants who move to Finland each year. The country needs to almost double that number to 34,000 to prevent the economy from declining, according to a recent report by Finnish think-tank EVA. According to their research, while the domestic unemployment rate is high, growth in the supply of skilled labor would benefit the economy and lead to an increase in the number of available jobs.

Despite the need for an increase in skilled labor, the means to support this shift is lacking here in Finland. In principle, the immigration laws are designed to accommodate highly-educated immigrants, but the practice of obtaining a residence permit is unnecessarily complicated and burdensome. The issue is a hot topic for Amcham’s policy action team, which has been discussing solutions with key decision makers. Finland simply needs more successful global companies, in order to help increase productivity.

“I truly hope the next government will fix the problem in retaining foreign talent, and we see an increase employment of skilled expats in Finland. Finland needs foreign talent. In particular, there is huge potential in spouses. The integration of foreign workers will not succeed unless the spouse enjoys it here as well” says Lautjärvi from Finland Relocation Services.

Lautjärvi faces the Finnish bureaucracy daily when helping foreign immigrants with their work permits, setting up bank accounts and finding places to live. That’s his job. Several companies use Finland Relocation Services’ help for problem-free landing when employing a foreigner.

Do you have a question about retaining foreign talent in Finland? Contact:

Matthew Wood
+358 45 201 1039