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Social security coverage for students and researchers
If you move to Finland only in order to study here, you may be entitled to some Kela benefits, provided that your move to Finland is considered permanent. This is determined mainly on the basis of the estimated duration of the studies and your country of origin. The entitlement to benefits for persons who come to Finland for research work depends for instance on whether a researcher who works with the support of a grant is equated to a self-employed person or whether the person’s income is otherwise sufficiently high.
If you come to Finland from another EU or EEA country or Switzerland in order to study here, your stay in Finland is usually considered temporary. In that case, your country of origin is responsible for the social security benefits. If you come to Finland from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland to study here, you are entitled to necessary medical treatment if you have a European Health Insurance Card awarded by the country of origin. Order the card before coming to Finland.
If you come to Finland from some other country than an EU or EEA country or Switzerland in order to study here for at least 2 years, you can usually receive the Kela card and for instance reimbursements from Kela for medicine costs. You are not entitled to all Kela benefits, however. For instance general housing allowance is not paid to students.
The circumstances may change during the studies. When determining the entitlement to social security coverage, Kela takes into account also possible other reasons for the stay in Finland in addition to the studies. Such reasons can be, for instance, previous residence, family ties or employment in Finland. If you work in Finland alongside the studies, you can become entitled to benefits on the basis of your employment also when your residence in Finland is not considered permanent. One requirement for entitlement to benefits on the basis of employment is that the wage amounts to at least EUR 723.69 per month.
Researchers who receive a Finnish grant for at least 4 months must arrange insurance under the Farmers’ Pensions Act (MYEL) if the grant amounts to at least EUR 3,980 on an annual level (in 2020). The entitlement to Kela benefits for researchers who receive a grant is based on this pension insurance policy. Insurance is provided by the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution (MELA).
Researchers who receive a grant but are not considered self-employed persons can become entitled to Kela benefits if their income is sufficiently high. In such cases, the wage, the foreign grant or other income must amount to at least EUR 723.69 per month (in 2020). If the income level of a researcher who works in Finland does not reach this minimum level, the entitlement to benefits is determined on the basis of whether the person's residence in Finland is considered permanent.