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Amendments to Aliens Act would streamline extension of temporary protection for Ukrainians

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 27.9.2022 10.42 | Published in English on 27.9.2022 at 14.08
Press release

The Ministry of the Interior has sent out for comments a draft of a temporary amendment to the Aliens Act that would ensure the validity of residence permits issued in Finland to recipients of temporary protection for as long as the temporary protection is in effect in the EU. With the amendment, first residence permits would be issued directly for the entire period of validity of the temporary protection. Moreover, those who have already received residence permits would not need to apply for an extension separately.

Holders of residence permits can prove their right of residence with a residence permit card. With the amendment, the validity of the residence permit cards would also be extended for the duration of the residence permit. If they so wish, holders of residence permits could apply to the Finnish Immigration Service for a new card with updated information on the validity of the permit and card, for example for travel purposes. 

The original idea was to introduce a special act that would ensure the smooth continuation of residence permits for recipients of temporary protection. However, during the preparation of that act, it was noted that it would also be justified to lay down temporary exemptions to the Aliens Act. In addition to extending the validity of permits, the amendments would lay down new provisions on the validity of the first permits. The amendment to the Aliens Act would remain in force until 4 March 2025.

The deadline for comments is 7 October 2022. The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament during the autumn session 2022.

Ensuring the validity of residence permits for the duration of protection is the most clear-cut solution

The temporary protection currently in place in the EU lasts for one year from the entry into force of the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382, i.e. until 4 March 2023. After this, the temporary protection will be extended automatically for another year, unless the Council decides to end it. The Council may also decide to extend the temporary protection for an additional year. Under the Temporary Protection Directive, the total duration may not exceed three years.

While the decision is in force, Finland and all other EU Member States are obligated to grant temporary protection to the group specified in the decision and to issue a residence permit to indicate it. Finland has issued residence permits on the basis of temporary protection to about 38,000 people who have fled Ukraine. That number is expected to reach approximately 48,000 by the end of the year. These residence permits are set to expire on 4 March 2023.

Currently, the Aliens Act requires that a separate application be filed for a new residence permit. This would mean that people who have received residence permits on the basis of temporary protection would have to file separate applications to the Finnish Immigration Service in order to extend their permits. 

Extending the validity of the residence permits automatically for the duration of the temporary protection is the most clear-cut solution from the viewpoint of both the Finnish Immigration Service and the people enjoying temporary protection. To ensure equal treatment, first residence permits issued after the entry into force of the Act would also be valid for the same period of time. 

Inquiries:

Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 270, [email protected]
Tuuli Tuunanen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 658, [email protected]