From January to October 2010, a total of 4,185 persons applied for a student residence permit, an increase of 7 per cent over the same time period last year (3,898 by October 2009). Of the applicants, 89 per cent were approved (92 per cent in 2009). A total of 3,864 non-EU students were granted residence permits.
As in previous years, the greatest number of residence permit applications were from Russian (816) and Chinese (601) students. Almost all of them were granted a residence permit. Besides the above-mentioned, the largest applicant groups were those from Nigeria (256), Nepal (232), Vietnam (214), the United States (173), India (165), and Bangladesh (157).
Watching for forged bank statements
A total of 11 per cent of the applicants were rejected. However, the rejection rates varied considerably by country. For example, approximately one half of the Nigerian applicants and one fourth of the Bangladeshi applicants were rejected.
The most common reason for rejection was insufficient income. A condition for a student residence permit is that the applicant should have a minimum of 500 euros a month or 6,000 euros a year at his/her disposal during his/her stay in Finland.
Last year, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) considerably intensified the investigation of residence permit applications from African students because of forged documents. It is now forged proofs of income that have gained prominence. A student residence permit is granted for one year at a time, and the applicant must produce a bank statement to show his/her income.
Most residence permit applicants come from developing countries such as Nigeria, Nepal and Bangladesh. Migri has reason to suspect that forged bank statements are used to prove sufficient income and that money is being circulated from one bank account to another. Migri is planning to intervene by further intensifying their examination of documents. The examination of bank statements is difficult, but it has already become possible; for example, the Nigerian embassy in Finland is assisting in local bank investigations, which is clearly reflecting on the refusal rate for Nigerian students.