17.6.2022 13:31

Finnish Startup Community: Visa easements for growth entrepreneurs a great development, but not enough

“The dire shortage of specialists bedevilling many sectors of the economy demands fast, extensive action,” Riikka Pakarinen, the CEO of the Finnish Startup Community association, says. 

An amendment to the Aliens Act speeds up the processing of visas for highly qualified specialists and growth entrepreneurs. Recruitment that could fuel economic growth is still hindered by the difficulty of opening a bank account, the paucity of English-language school places for children, and spouses’ difficulties in finding work. That is the view of Finnish Startup Community in its press release.

“Finland could learn from Canada’s example, which has, through a methodical immigration policy, for many years been building national welfare and improving its dependency ratio. The dire shortage of specialists bedevilling many sectors of the economy demands fast, extensive action,” Riikka Pakarinen, the CEO of the Finnish Startup Community association, says.

However, she praises the government of Sanna Marin for the amendment to the Aliens Act, in force since the start of June, which speeds up and thus promotes labour immigration. Highly qualified specialists, growth entrepreneurs and their families will now receive visas in two weeks. Finnish Startup Community and its member companies have long been engaged in fruitful dialogue with the Finnish Immigration Service to ensure the agency can better serve the needs of Finnish start-ups and growth entrepreneurs.

Canadian model

Canada assigns points to rank people who wish to migrate there, favouring young, highly educated people who speak English or French. For example, the province of Quebec is an extremely attractive destination for top specialists. The gaming industry, in particularly, is flourishing in Quebec.

The grounds for the recently reformed Aliens Act mentioned Canada as a successful example of attracting top specialists. An international survey of over 200,000 respondents in 190 countries in 2020 found Canada had bypassed the US as most-desired destination for labour migration. One key reason for this were smooth permit processes, along with, more broadly, a society open to international influences.

Single-kiosk service model

The competition for specialists has become global. Finnish Startup Community has proposed that Finland should become the world’s most attractive country for highly qualified specialists.

“We should look at what Canada and other similarly successful countries have done right in their labour immigration policies. New jobs are created by new businesses. They need international talent. Finland should become the world’s best and most straightforward destination to come and do highly qualified work,” Pakarinen says. 

She proposes the “single-kiosk” service model used in France and elsewhere. Foreign highly qualified specialists and their families should be offered a binding two-week service promise which includes more than just a visa. The reaching of this deadline should be measured systematically from the moment the applicants submit an application in the system.

“This process should include authentication, receipt of a work permit, and all other practical steps from opening a bank account to receiving a personal ID number. In addition, the authentication of foreign highly qualified specialists should be developed, and the digital identity project should be completed. Service paths should be made smoother, and we need more English-language school places for families coming here from abroad,” Pakarinen says.