Changes to temporary protection for third-country nationals who have fled Ukraine
At its meeting on 7 September, the Government decided that Finland would no longer grant temporary protection and new residence permits to those third-country nationals who have fled Ukraine and who were not granted international protection or a permanent residence permit by Ukraine. This decision will not affect the protection already granted or the validity of the residence permits already issued.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, millions of people have fled the country and sought refuge in the EU. In addition to Ukrainian nationals, third-country nationals residing in Ukraine have fled the country. In early March 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision to introduce temporary protection for those fleeing Ukraine. Currently, slightly over four million people receive temporary protection in the EU.
The decision adopted by the Council defines the persons to whom Member States must grant temporary protection. Such persons include Ukrainian nationals who have fled Ukraine and third-country nationals who have been granted international protection or a permanent residence permit in Ukraine.
Member States may at national level decide to grant temporary protection also to other groups of people. One of such groups that are separately mentioned in the decision is third-country nationals who resided legally in Ukraine on grounds other than international protection or a permanent residence permit. These people have resided in Ukraine for work or studies, for example. In March 2022, the Government decided that Finland would also grant temporary protection to these people.
By the government decision of 7 September 2023, these people will no longer be granted temporary protection. The decision applies to people who arrive in Finland after the entry into force of the decision or who have arrived in Finland earlier but have not notified the authorities of their need for temporary protection before the entry into force of the decision. Thus, the government decision will not affect the temporary protection already granted or the validity of residence permits. The residence permits already issued are valid until 4 March 2024.
The government decision will not affect third-country nationals or stateless persons who have received international protection in Ukraine or have resided in Ukraine under a permanent residence permit. Nor will the decision affect those third-country nationals who receive temporary protection as a family member of a Ukrainian national. These people will continue to receive temporary protection.
Return to the home country as a starting point
Residence in Ukraine for the persons to whom the decision applies was not based on international protection or permanent residence on other grounds. If the grounds for residing in the European Union are not met, the primary solution is to return to the home country.
If the person feels that returning to their home country is not possible for reasons of safety, they have the right to submit an asylum application and and this way have the authorities establish whether they need international protection.
Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, [email protected]