Immigration update: Finland issues biometric identity cards

As of 1 January 2012, Finland is issuing new, biometric identity cards (eAT) in lieu of the traditional Finnish residence permits (affixed as a sticker in a foreign national's passport).

As of 1 January 2012,&#x;Finland&#x;is issuing new, biometric identity cards (eAT) in lieu of the traditional Finnish residence permits (affixed as a sticker in a foreign national's passport).In wake of European Council regulations, all 27 European Union member states are required to introduce the electronic residence permit ("e-residence permit"). This is designed to standardize all EU-member country residence permits by providing the permit holder's biographic and biometric information and reducing incidence of fraudulent documentation.&#x;As of 1 January, the new eAT cards are being issued for long-term residence authorizations (i.e., stays exceeding 90 cumulative days in a 180-day period). Qualified dependents are also issued an eAT card.The new eAT cards are an electronic, credit-card format that will serve as a foreign national's "e-residence permit". Persons with a valid residence permit sticker affixed to their passports will not need to change the sticker for a card. A residence permit card must nevertheless be applied for without delay as soon as the passport expires.Applications for a first residence permitThe amendments to the Aliens Act mean that, from the beginning of 2012, residence permit applications must be submitted in person. An employer or a family member resident in Finland (sponsor) will no longer be able to submit an application on behalf of the applicant.Residence Permit RenewalsAfter 1 January 2012, applications for residence permit extensions and permanent residence permits can only be submitted at a Finnish police station. Similarly, if a residence permit card is lost or stolen, a new card can be applied for at the Finnish police. The police will also make decisions on all permit extensions and re-applications.Because of the current, lengthy processing times for eAT cards, firms are advised to initiate renewal of an assignee's and family's residence permit renewal applications three months prior to expiration of status.This transition period will expire on May 20th 2012.Information provided by Pro-Link GLOBAL, in association with Finland&#x;Relocation&#x;Services.