Becoming a Finn will be made easier in many other respects come September. According to Sonja Hämäläinen, an adviser to the Ministry of the Interior who was involved in drawing up the legislation, the biggest change is a reduction in the amount of time aliens are required to have lived in the country before becoming eligible to apply.
Previously foreigners had to have lived in Finland for at least six years, but in September that will be cut to five. And if an applicant can demonstrate a strong command of Finnish or Swedish, she can even apply after her fourth year.
According to an immigration policy white paper, the changes are partly driven by a desire to entice foreigners who study in Finland to put down roots here, as they are often highly skilled and proficient in Finnish.
“That way we can get skilled labour to stay in Finland,” Hämäläi-
Under the new law, half of the years spent studying in Finland will officially count as time resident here for immigration purposes.