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Foreign-born population – 2018

0.4 million, 49% women

6% of the population

Evolution since 2007: +84%

Main countries of birth:

Former USSR (15%), Estonia (12%), Sweden (9%)

In 2017, Finland received 24 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -13% compared to 2016. This figure comprises 27.2% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 7.8% labour migrants, 41.8% family members (including accompanying family) and 22.9% humanitarian migrants.

Around 5 200 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 17 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants and trainees (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 22 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2017, an increase of 6% compared to 2016. These posted workers were generally on short-term contracts.

Iraq, Estonia and Syria were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2017. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Syria registered the biggest increase (200) and Russia the largest decrease (-1 000) in flows to Finland compared to the previous year.

In 2018, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by 32.1%, falling to around 3 000. The majority of applicants come from Iraq (600), Russia (500) and Turkey (300). The largest increase since 2017 concerned nationals of Turkey (200) and the largest decrease, nationals of Syria (-600). Of the 4 400 decisions taken in 2018, 54.1% were positive.

Emigration of Finns to OECD countries increased by 0.4% to 13 000. Approximately 22.3% of this group migrated to Sweden, 16.5% to Germany and 8.6% to the Netherlands.

In January 2018, the government published “Work in Finland – Government Migration Policy Programme to Strengthen Labour Migration”. Provisions introduced in January 2018 make it easier for entrepreneurs and experts to move to Finland. A residence permit was introduced for growth or start-up entrepreneurs. The applicant for this two-year renewable permit must first obtain a business assessment from Business Finland, the innovation funding agency, which assesses whether the company’s business model shows potential for rapid international growth.

The application process for an extended permit was simplified, allowing on-line applications, and the validity of a first residence permit for specialists was extended from one to two years.

In September 2018, the EU Directive 2016/801 on researchers and students was transposed. Transposition increased permit duration for students and researchers to two years maximum, renewable, and the extended permit for up to four years.

New legislation on the punishment of irregular entry, entered into force in January 2019, added a provision to the Penal Code that imposes a fine or up to one year of imprisonment for violations of the entry ban.

In December 2018, the Finnish government announced the faster execution of deportation decisions. Deportation decisions related to public order and security may now be enforced 30 days from the day of the decision unless prohibited by the administrative court.

Concerning assisted voluntary return (AVR), counselling programmes for asylum seekers and returnees were further developed. New channels for providing information on AVR on social media were opened. The amounts of in-cash and in-kind assistance for voluntary return were increased on 25 September 2017.

Changes in law specifying the criteria for processing subsequent applications for international protection entered into force in June 2019. A first subsequent application will not prevent the enforcement of an earlier decision on refusal of entry, if it does not fulfil the criteria for admissibility and has been submitted only for the purpose of preventing or delaying the return. The new act will also specify the start and end of the right to work of persons who have applied for international protection and lay down conditions for taking possession of the applicant's travel documents. Those who were unaccompanied minors at the time of applying for international protection will be considered minors for the purpose of family reunification, even if they turn 18 during the asylum procedure. This amendment will apply to those who have been granted international protection status and the application for family reunification must be submitted within a three-month period from the notification of the decision.

Labour market test will no longer apply to persons who have worked in Finland for a year with a residence permit for an employed person. The person can also change professional fields if he or she meets the qualification requirements in that field.

For further information:

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Key figures on immigration and emigration - Finland
Key figures on immigration and emigration - Finland

Notes and sources are at the end of the chapter.


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