A lot of people seem to think it is possible to get up and move to any part of the world they want to live in. While it may be true to some extent, some countries are easier than others. Finland probably is one of the more difficult countries in which to take up residence. There is an ongoing discussion about moving to Finland over in the Finland Forum. (Just warning you– it’s depressing. Folks on this forum are very discouraging). I was fortunate to find out recently that I am a dual citizen and was able to claim my Finnish citizenship. If this had not happened it would be pretty darned difficult to think about moving to Finland at this point in my life. The office that handles all immigration issues is the Maahanmuutovirasto, often called Migri. Essentially, if you are not a citizen of the EU, unless you have very close family ties or are claiming asylum, the only way to get permission to live in Finland is to study or to work. Being in my sixties I’m not a great candidate for either situation. There are no provisions for residency by investing in property or even for most kinds of family ties. You cannot move there to be with grown children, siblings, parents or many other kinds of relations.
I had occasionally wondered if it were possible that I was a Finnish citizen but never actually enquired until one day a few years ago I found myself in the lobby of the Finnish consulate in Los Angeles having given someone else a ride there. I decided on a whim to ask the woman sitting at the desk if I might be a Finnish citizen. She asked me a few questions about my parents and my year of birth and quickly determined that I had been a Finnish citizen at birth based on my father’s citizenship and had not lost it at age 22– as would happen today. The problem was that my birth was not registered in Finland so I was going to have to submit a form with accompanying documents. That form KAN_9 can be found here.
Along with the form I had to submit my birth certificate, my parents’ marriage certificate and my own marriage certificate with apostile. The form asks for clarification of my parents’ citizenship status at the time of my birth. I was pretty sure my father was a Finnish citizen when I was born but he passed away 50 years ago and I had nothing more than a hunch that he had acquired US citizenship after my birth so I went looking for proof. My mother wasn’t sure and didn’t have any of the old documents. I wrote to the Naturalization and Immigration Service under the Freedom of Information Act looking for the date he was naturalized. Many months later I received a CD with copies of his naturalization documentation from the National Archives. He was naturalized as a US citizen seven years after my birth. I thought that would be proof enough. I mailed my documentation to the consulate in New York. It should have been easy to confirm my citizenship except that my father was not listed in the Finnish population registry. But my mother was! She had insisted that she was not a Finnish citizen and it never occurred to me to claim citizenship through her. A short time later I received a document from Finland, “Extract from the population information system in Finland,” with my new personal identity code.
My husband and I traveled to Finland in 2015 to visit Family. During that visit I made an appointment with Poliisi in Seinäjoki to apply for a passport. That’s me at the top of this post on the day I picked it up at R-Kioski. It feels pretty cool to be recognized as a Finn after a lifelong relationship with the country.
So now I can move to Finland to live if I want to, but I’m only half of a family team and my husband would need a residence permit based on family ties. He has a right to live and work in Finland if he is either married to a Finn, in a long-term relationship with a Finn (at least 2 years). In some cases, the residence permit application can be made online but in our case, applying under family ties we needed to apply in person at the consulate in New York. In June we took a day off and drove to New York, documentation and forms in hand to the United Nations Plaza to apply. We Finally heard back in late October. I received an email asking for more clarification of our situation. They want to know exactly when we plan to move, where we plan to live and if we plan to work in Finland. I was given two weeks to reply. My letter with my response is in the mail…..