Recommendations for Migri

After talking to friends hoping to move from Silicon Valley to Europe, and going through a frustrating year of working with Migri, I wrote to Director of Migri Jari Kähkönen in September and included a list of recommendations for attracting talent to Finland.

Here are the recommendations (and rationale):

A growing number of my colleagues now work remotely from Iceland, Portugal, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Bali, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Singapore, Estonia, Germany and other places. Many expect to return to the SF Bay Area after the pandemic, but some will likely stay in their new home countries.

This is an opportunity for Finland. I hope to move my family here because of Finland’s reputation as a country with a stable social democratic government, benefitting from a high level of social cohesion and trust, which is enormously appealing in uncertain times. The education system has a strong reputation overseas, and the quality of life in terms of healthcare, education, technological sophistication, progressive politics and work/life balance are tremendously attractive to foreigners. The fact that most urban Finns speak English, and that it is the official language in many companies, is also important. Finland is seen overseas as technologically advanced, enlightened, stable and supportive. If you wish us welcome, others will follow.

1. Fast track. Create a fast track for highly qualified talent and a separate unit that manages it end-to-end. Remote identification, 48h processing time. These people will make outsize contributions to the Finnish economy. Do not rely on your existing Migri processes if you wish to welcome and retain them.

2. Remote worker residency. A type D visa for U.S. tech employees working from Finland, inclusive of their families. Requiring Silicon Valley companies to create Finnish subsidiaries for temporary remote workers is a nonstarter. Even multinationals like Facebook and Google prefer to retain their remote workforce in their U.S. cost centers.

3. Investor visa. For investors applying for residency to Finland, inclusive of families. Due to their work many investors wish to keep both U.S. and European residencies and they should be able to spend part of the year in Finland. 13 other European countries offer investor visas. New Zealand has found their investment in New Zealand multiplies in a few years.

4. One step process. Permanent home address registration, national ID card, strong identification, and and Omakanta credentials should be automatically issued with the residency permit. The current Kafkaesque morass of in-person appointments, paper documents and confusing online flows should be replaced with a modern automated system.

5. English language schools. Finland fails to capitalize on its reputation for excellent education by not investing in a meaningful way in an English language school path. Despite claims about increased capacity, only one of Helsinki’s schools offers an English language track and the European School & handful of private schools in the Helsinki area are full with waitlists. New English language school tracks should urgently be established.

6. Targeted talent attraction. I know from experience from my investments that talented individuals move in groups. Hire a team of American-Finnish marketers located in the U.S. to compete with the other countries. The window of opportunity has opened, and Canada and others are advertising on billboards on Silicon Valley’s 101 freeway.

Tech companies’ shift to remote work coupled with climate change, the pandemic, China’s expansive authoritarianism and U.S. domestic politics make Finland surprisingly attractive. Now’s the time to act.

I recommend working with a service design firm on designing the fast track process.

I have not yet received a response.

Author: Caterina Fake

Literature, Art, Poetry, Homeschooling Mother. Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.

6 thoughts on “Recommendations for Migri”

  1. Dear Caterina, Do you have an email address where I could send you some related personal thoughts? I hope you keeping well during the holiday season despite the circumstances!


  2. For what it’s worth, Migri’s Enter Finland does have service designers, and the process has _improved_ in recent years:

    I agree that securing ID is Kafkaesque. Most services only trust ID from a bank login. To get a bank account, you need a Police ID card. To get that, you need residency, and your local address secured in DVV, which is done through a form via Posti, which seems to be falling apart. To do all of those steps, a bank login is required! Or you’ll have to do steps in-person. Bit of an ouroboros there. ∞


  3. Does Finland want to encourage this kind of immigration? Your suggestions only makes sense if they desire it. Maybe Finland isn’t so interested in rich English speaking immigrants. I don’t know about Finnish politics, but from what I’ve read their neighbors in Sweden are pretty skeptical about immigration.

    FWIW I’ve heard New Zealand’s residency program for wealthy foreign investors is very well designed and very high touch. Full fledged citizenship has gotten harder thanks to Peter Thiel’s hijinks, but they are quite willing to grant residency to folks bringing in investments.


    1. This was posted online in response to a Helsingin Sanomat article which was published last week, about the difficulties I have had getting a residency permit for my family in Finland.

      The reason this became such a much discussed article and is now being discussed in the Finnish is due to Finland’s extensive, prolonged effort to attract Silicon Valley and tech talent to their country. The article was pointing out that in the cases where they have a succeeded in attracting such talent the unfortunate applicant runs into the finish bureaucracy and is unable to actually take up residency there.

      Because of Finland‘s efforts I have been consulted frequently on how I think they should design their programs which is what this letter was about. I wrote this letter back in September.


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