During the global pandemic, Helsinki Business Hub, the international trade and investment promotion agency of Finland launched a campaign to attract foreign top professionals to work for 90 days remotely, as freelancer, an entrepreneur, or investor located in Helsinki. A catchy slogan and an all-round package attracted over five thousand applicants during the application period in December 2020. A relatively stable pandemic situation and lack of formal restrictions in Finland boosted the interest among applicants.
Fifteen lucky people fulfilling “tight criteria” will soon arrive in Finland exempting the border rules. Business-oriented Americans were in focus but amounted only to one third. Details of other applicants’ demographics have not been disclosed yet. Remote workers dominated the statistics. Direct applicants for jobs in Helsinki were only recorded for “future
Those admitted will enjoy an exclusive service package covering any bureaucracy connected to relocating (visa, registration, permissions, housing, work facilities, childcare, or schooling), consulting, and networking – yes, even socializing! Almost all the pitfalls of regular immigration to Finland magically wiped away! In return, Finland expects a promotion of a
favorable, but delusional, image of immigration, business, or employment as a foreigner in Finland.
BBC reported on the campaign: “Finland’s radical plan to lure global talent.”
The participants and their families will be served palatable treats stripped off of any immigration inconveniences and frustrations. Finland seems capable of sponsoring a short-term feelgood package, but unable to fix the ailing and obsolete immigration system, its slowness, reluctant decision-making, and lack of flexibility, and foremost, respect.
Migri, the Finnish Immigration Service, shines in negative headlines. For example, the cases of Caterina Fake, a renowned US-entrepreneur or Daniel Malpica, a Mexican art and design entrepreneur and holder of Finnish grants.
- “Momentum to attract the foreign talent” (Helsinki Times)
- “Facebook: Daniel Malpica unjustified trouble with the Finnish Immigration Service (Migrant Tales)
Fake, relocating with her Finnish spouse to pursue her entrepreneurship and investments was denied a residence permit lacking a Finnish employer. Her case was addressed by former Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (National Coalition Party) by pinpointing Migri’s dismissive mindset. Malpica admitted solving his case only by strong community support and visibility in the media. Thousands of other cases go unnoticed.
The fairy-tale set up is a slap in the face of educated foreigners already residing in Finland.
A grand share of graduates from Finnish higher education institutions are struggling for residence permits, settling for jobs below competence level, part-time, unpaid internships, or even menial jobs and unemployment (especially during the pandemic). Graduates leave Finland behind when offered better opportunities in Nordic or Western countries.
It is also unfair towards a large group of foreign spouses or partners who gave up a good career to follow a Finn. Their foreign education and experience still lacks adequate recognition among the vast majority of Finnish employers.
Does the experiment imitate the life of a Finn? No. Or of “foreign talent” settled in Finland? Also no. Without a local support network “foreign talent” first faces an enormous, rigid and slow apparatus known as Migri. This part remains undisclosed to the “chosen ones” in the staging of a Finnish surreal bubble.