In 2020, Finland received 24 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -6.8% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 28% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 23.6% labour migrants, 35.9% family members (including accompanying family) and 12.2% humanitarian migrants. Around 3 200 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 2 900 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 25 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -30% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Russia, Estonia and Iraq were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Ukraine registered the strongest increase (200) and India the largest decrease (-400) in flows to Finland compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -6.2%, to reach around 1 400. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (200), Iraq (200) and Somalia (100). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Georgia (50) and the largest decrease nationals of Iraq (-300). Of the 2 310 decisions taken in 2021, 46% were positive.

In September 2021, Finland introduced for the first time quantitative targets to education and work-based immigration: at least doubling work-based immigration from its current level by 2030; and tripling the number of new foreign students to 15 000 students a year. The aim is that 75% of them stay in Finland for work after graduation.

The introduction of a fast-track plan for specialists, start-up entrepreneurs and their family came into force in June 2022 in the form of a long-term visa (visa D). It is now proposed to extend this plan to researchers, students and their family. Since April 2022, international students have extended work opportunities (from 25 to 30 hours per week) and graduates have new opportunities to stay in Finland to settle and work. The job-search visa for graduates saw its duration extended from one to two years after graduation.

An Act to improve the legal status and earnings of foreigners picking natural products and to ensure equal treatment with other companies providing the same services, entered into force in June 2021. It defines these workers’ rights and obligations.

The government submitted a proposal on 21 April 2022 to amend the Act on Foreigners and enable Finland to make use of the support from the European Union Agency for Asylum in the event of a mass influx of migrants. This is the second part of a broader project launched by the Ministry of the Interior. The first part was an amendment to the Reception Act that entered into force on 1 January 2022. The Finnish Immigration Service is now fully responsible for planning and organising reception services in case of a mass influx of migrants. The third part should concern the use of additional personnel in detention units.

A new Act to foster the integration of immigrants has been proposed to Parliament in May 2022 and could possibly enter into force at the end of 2024. Municipalities and other local actors would get more responsibilities to assess service needs related to skills and integration, at an early stage, as well as multilingual orientation to Finnish society, education, guidance and information to promote integration. Integration plans would be shortened and more tailored to individual needs.

Adopted in October 2021, the government Action Plan for Combating Racism will be carried out in different branches of government until 2023. The Action Plan aims to dismantle structural inequalities in society, promote non-discrimination in the Finnish working life, strengthen the authorities’ equality competence, raise awareness of racism and its various forms, and develop research and data collection related to racism.

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