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Action Plan for the Prevention of Irregular Entry and Stay updated

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 5.5.2021 13.55
Press release 53/2021

In line with the Government Programme, the Action Plan for the Prevention of Irregular Entry and Stay has been updated for the period 2021–2024. The purpose of the Action Plan is to tackle comprehensively irregular entry and stay, cross-border crime and the emergence of a parallel society outside the Finnish society.

This is the fourth national action plan for the prevention of irregular entry and stay. It has taken full account of the measures set out in the previous action plans and the related points in the Government Programme. The Action Plan also examines the status of those residing in the country without a right of stay, the phenomena of abuse associated with them and their vulnerability to human trafficking.

“People who stay in the country without a residence permit face the risk of becoming excluded, of committing crimes and of being exploited by criminals themselves, even to the point of becoming victims of human trafficking. For this reason, in the interests of both society and individuals, Finland should strive to comprehensively prevent the emergence of a parallel society,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo

Actions will have a comprehensive impact on various stages of migration

The updated Action Plan includes actions at both strategic and operational levels. In total, there are 52 actions. Of these actions, 49 have been divided chronologically into five different themes: actions in the countries of origin and transit, actions at the border, actions in Finland, actions to promote return, and actions concerning those without a right of stay in the country. Some of the actions require further studies and possible legislative amendments. The responsibility for the actions lies with a number of different authorities.

In many respects, the actions concern existing official duties and the further development of these. Especially at national level, cross-administrative cooperation and the exchange of information play a key role. It is also important for Finland to be actively involved in EU cooperation, as the results achieved are often more effective than the national measures taken by a small Member State. 

“The Action Plan will continue the long-term work of the authorities to tackle very difficult challenges in some respects. There are no simple ready-made solutions. Rather, we need to look at the phenomena from many angles as these do not disappear on their own,” Minister Ohisalo says.

“We need to make sure that the measures are both effective and humane at the same time. The cross-cutting principles of the Action Plan include safeguarding fundamental and human rights, improving the detection of trafficking in human beings and identifying vulnerable people. We also have to pay particular attention to safeguarding the best interests of the child,” says Kirsi Pimiä, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior. 

Ministry of the Interior and National Police Board monitor the implementation of the Action Plan

The Ministry of the Interior will organise a joint seminar for the parties involved in the preparation of the Action Plan. This seminar and subsequent follow-up seminars will help ensure consistency in the implementation of the Action Plan.

The Ministry of the Interior will also monitor the implementation of strategic and ministry-level measures. In line with previous action plans, a working group for the prevention of irregular entry will monitor the implementation of operational actions. This working group, consisting of public officials, is led by the National Police Board. The Ministry of the Interior and the National Police Board will report on the implementation to the Ministerial Working Group on Internal Security and Strengthening the Rule of Law in the middle and at the end of the programming period.

Most people move to Finland legally for work, study or family reasons 

Most people enter the EU legally for family-related reasons or for work, and only a small fraction of people enter the EU illegally. Likewise, most people move legally to Finland on the basis of work, family ties and studies. Irregular entry and stay remain low in Finland when compared to all migration to Finland. The coronavirus pandemic has reduced movement even further. 

The previous action plan for 2017–2020 focused on the change in the operating environment, which resulted in a rapid increase in the number of asylum seekers in 2015–2016. Action is still needed for these people. This need has also been identified in the Government Programme: it sets the objectives of developing a voluntary return system, readmission agreements with key third countries whose nationals Finland can safely return, and the prevention and combating of irregular stay and related trafficking and exploitation of human beings. 

Action Plan prepared through extensive cooperation

The project working group prepared the Action Plan between 10 September 2020 and 15 January 2021. In addition to the Migration, Police and Border Guard Departments and the Administration and Development Department at the Ministry of the Interior, representatives from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Finnish Immigration Service and the National Police Board participated in the work of the project working group. 

During the preparation of the Action Plan, the project working group consulted a wide range of stakeholders. The Action Plan was finalised at political level.


Jutta Gras, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 650, [email protected]
Anna Rundgren, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 324, [email protected]
Milja Henttonen, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 599 3094, [email protected] (requests for interviews with Minister Ohisalo)

Link to the English translation of the programme added on 16 September 2021.