In 2019, Finland received 24 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 4.5% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 27.3% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 9.2% labour migrants, 46.7% family members (including accompanying family) and 16.5% humanitarian migrants. Around 5 200 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 12 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 36 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 81% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Russia, Estonia and India were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Russia registered the strongest increase (600) and Iraq the largest decrease (-600) in flows to Finland compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -40.7%, to reach around 1 500. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (200), Turkey (80) and Iraq (500). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Iraq (200) and the largest decrease nationals of Turkey (-300). Of the 3 100 decisions taken in 2020, 37.8% were positive.

Emigration of Finns to OECD countries decreased by -8% in 2019, to 10 000. Approximately 21% of this group migrated to Sweden, 12% to the Netherlands and 9% to Spain.

In March 2020, to overcome labour shortages, nine sectors of activity were identified as essential, and able to benefit from new entries of labour migrants under exceptional circumstances: 1) agriculture, horticulture and fisheries, 2) the food sector, 3) energy supply, 4) maritime and manufacturing industries, 5) construction, 6) transport and communications, 7) chemical industry, 8) pharmaceutical and health technology industries and 9) the forest sector.

In December 2020, due to the persisting spread of COVID-19, Finland extended restrictions on entry with some exceptions. The processing of asylum applications continued otherwise and some seasonal workers were still allowed to enter.

In June 2021, an amendment to the Seasonal Workers Act was implemented to make it easier for seasonal workers from third countries to change employers. Meanwhile, employers are able to notify the Finnish Immigration Service of more than one employee at once, and the return of seasonal workers to the same employer is facilitated by suppressing the obligation to report on the employment conditions.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until the end of 2021, residence permits can be extended without meeting the minimum income level.

As of 1 February 2021, the Finnish Immigration Service set up a project aimed at speeding up and streamlining the processing of work-based permits and residence permits for international students. The goal is to reduce the processing time to one month for work permits by 2023; and to two weeks for specialists, startup entrepreneurs and their family members in 2021.

In July 2020, the age limit for unaccompanied minors with a residence permit to be eligible for an extended child care allocation has been prolonged from 21 to 25 years old. It is estimated that around 2 000 young foreigners will be entitled to this allocation.

A comprehensive and external audit has been requested by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland to confirm the promising first outcomes of the 2016-19 integration Social Impact Bond (SIB) experiment in sectors that suffer from labour shortages. This was the occasion to test an innovative funding method through private investors who bear the economic risk.

In March 2021, the government proposed a new law to improve the legal status and earning opportunities of foreign berry pickers. These workers currently work as entrepreneurs and their status hardly ensures equal treatment with other companies providing the same services.

Accommodation capacity for asylum seekers will decrease by 700 reception places by the end of September 2021. Due to COVID-19, the Finnish Immigration service preferred reducing the number of places available per centre instead of closing more centres, to allow some flexibility in case of upcoming trends in asylum seeker flows.

The course on Finnish society for asylum seekers has been renewed to include more self-study materials, notably guidance on the national legislation, the Finnish society, equality, sexual health and the functioning of the Finnish labour market.

A government report on integration was published in June 2021 and it proposes an extensive programme to better support immigrants in their integration. The government report on the need for a reform in integration promotion services is related to a report the parliamentary Audit Committee prepared during the previous parliamentary term, urging a reform of integration promotion.

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