Independent study is training that the immigrant applies for independently or to which the municipality or TE Office directs him or her. You can receive unemployment benefits for independent studies when the requirements laid down in the Integration Act are met.
If subsidies for studies has started in accordance with the Integration Act, it is usually not possible to continue providing subsidies accordance with the Employment and Business Services Act after the integration period has ended.
Under the Integration Act, the prerequisite for supporting independent study is that
- the TE Office has determined that there is a need for training
- studies will support integration and employment
- studies have been agreed in the integration plan.
A prerequisite for this support is that the authority and the immigrant have agreed on independent study in the integration plan before studies begin. The authority will record the studies that the study module consists of and where the studies are to be completed in the plan drawn up with the client. The authority also records the estimated duration of the studies in the integration plan. For weighty reasons, it can also be decided that support will be provided for independent study after the start of the studies.
Such a weighty factor may be e.g.
- that the person is admitted to a study place from a waiting list
- the TE Office does not have time to draw up an integration plan before the start of studies
- the person has started studying before they have been granted a residence permit, which entitles them to register as an unemployed jobseeker in the TE Office's customer service system.
In addition, a prerequisite for support is that the studies in question are Finnish or Swedish language studies, or that instruction is provided mainly in Finnish or Swedish.
Studies promoting language skills, social skills and employment
In order for independent study to support the integration and employment of the immigrant, the studies must consist of Finnish or Swedish language studies, or instruction of studies must be mainly in Finnish or Swedish.
Studies in languages other than Finnish or Swedish may be supported in the case of short-term studies in the mother tongue of persons who are illiterate for a maximum of six months. This must be agreed upon in the integration plan drawn up in the early stages of integration. For example, integration training to Finnish society provided by immigrant and other organisations in the immigrant’s mother tongue may be included in independent integration training.
An immigrant who has completed a vocational or academic degree in his or her country of origin may start any required complementary studies as independent studies once he or she has applied for the Finnish National Agency for Education's decision to recognise his or her degree with as parallel with a Finnish degree. This type of independent study can also be financed with an unemployment benefit.
Supported independent studies do not need to be studies leading to a degree. For example, independent studies that prepare immigrants for vocational upper secondary education and training can be supported.
Scope and structure of supported independent study
Studies need not be full-time studies in order for support for independent study to be granted. However, it is recommended that independent studies usually includes at least 20 hours of study per week.
Especially in the case of immigrants who need special measures, it may be agreed that the weekly study period is shorter. Local circumstances in the provision of education (e.g. what kind of education options are available and how often can these be provided) can also be taken into account when considering supporting independent study.
In addition to studies, the sponsored independent studies may include work try-outs or volunteer activities, for example in a non-governmental organisation. However, completing the studies or assignments related to them must account for at least half of the duration of the supported independent studies.
Independent studies can be supported for a maximum of 24 months for each study module agreed on in the integration plan. A study module refers to the study module for which the immigrant applies and is accepted and which has been agreed on as a single module in the plan.