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Migration Review:
Immigration supports Finland's population growth – number of work-based residence permit applications growing

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 7.11.2019 9.41
Press release 92/2019

Immigration supports Finland's population growth, as the birth rate is record low in Finland, it is stated in a report submitted by the Ministry of the Interior to the OECD. Certain fields are suffering from a labour shortage, and the ageing of the population can aggravate the situation in the future. The situation can be alleviated by labour migration.

Since 2017, more and more persons have applied for a residence permit in Finland on the basis of work. In 2018, a total of 10,805 applications for a residence permit based on work were submitted, which exceeds the same figure in 2017 by more than 2,000.

The majority of applications for a residence permit for an employed person concerned manual labour (53% of applicants). The second highest number applied for a residence permit based on specialist tasks (14%). The largest group among those applying for a residence permit for a person employed as a specialist were of Indian nationality (56%).

The residence permit process must be as smooth as possible so that it would not be an obstacle to attracting specialists to Finland. The Government aims to develop the processing of work-based residence permits so that the average processing time would be about one month. The employment of international students is to be facilitated by extending the validity period of a residence permit after graduation to two years.

In spring 2018, the residence permit process for specialists was streamlined so that the first residence permit can now be granted for two years at a time instead of one year. At the same time, a residence permit for start-ups directed to growth entrepreneurs was introduced, aiming to facilitate the immigration and entrepreneurship of international talents. It has been of particular interest to technology sector specialists.

Attention is paid to employment of all immigrant groups

In 2018, family was the most common reason for moving to Finland, and a total of 9,009 applicants were granted a residence permit on the basis of family ties. The figure for 2017 was of the same size. Traditionally, the greatest number of residence permits on the basis of family ties has been issued to Russian nationals.

Finland is striving to ensure that immigrants, who have been granted a residence permit on the basis of family ties or international protection, would enter working life faster than earlier. The objective is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment's SIB employment project and development of immigrants’ Skills Centre activities. Rapid employment helps immigrants to integrate to Finnish society and eases the shortage of labour.

Very few new asylum seekers come to Finland

The reception centres still have plenty of asylum seekers following the exceptionally high numbers of asylum seekers in 2015. In 2018–2019, fewer asylum seekers arrived in Finland than during any other period in the 2010s. In all, 4,548 asylum applications were submitted in Finland in 2018. Almost one half of these (2,139) were subsequent applications submitted by asylum seekers already in the reception system.

The Finnish Government stresses the importance of common European solutions, emphasising fair and sustainable sharing of responsibility, as well as Nordic cooperation in its response to the global refugee and asylum situation.

Finland promotes the wider use of the quota refugee system, because the resettlement of quota refugees is an efficient and effective way of helping the most vulnerable refugees. Finland will receive 850 quota refugees in 2020.

Migration Review provides facts to support debate

The review published now covers the period from January 2018 to the end of June 2019. The aim of the review is to provide facts for an objective debate on immigration and to support policy preparation. The review is also Finland’s Migration Report to the OECD, or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The report is written in English and its topics are based on OECD guidelines.

The report was produced in cooperation between several ministries as well as the Finnish Immigration Service, Statistics Finland and the National Police Board.


Anna Rundgren, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 210, [email protected]