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The study surveys what types of work- and study-based pathways for legal migration are available in different countries for use by people in need of international protection

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 23.2.2021 10.21 | Published in English on 23.2.2021 at 11.08
Press release 22/2021
Men at computers.

The research project ordered by the Government surveys what types of complementary pathways for legal migration are available in different countries for use by people residing abroad who are in need of international protection. The focus is on work- and study-based pathways. This international comparison can help to support the consideration of the need of complimentary pathways in Finland as well as the international community’s efforts to find new solutions.

Complementary pathways refer to arrangements where a residence permit is issued, for example, on the grounds of study or work, to a person residing abroad who is deemed to be in need of international protection. The aim is to enable a person to enter a country legally and safely without having to resort to human traffickers. 

The objective of the study is to obtain comprehensive information on what complementary pathways can mean in practice and what administrative and legislative solutions have been made by the countries applying these arrangements. Furthermore, statistics are produced on the scope of the approaches and to whom they are applied.

Complementary pathways refer to a wide range of solutions, such as work-based and study-based programmes, humanitarian visas and various labour mobility arrangements. Comprehensive studies on the matter have not yet been conducted. The study surveys the practices adopted by a couple of different countries in more detail. The countries to be surveyed will be specified as the study progresses.

For the EU, the development of complementary pathways is an important means of responding to immigration

Complementary immigration pathways for people in need of international protection are a significant and up-to-date theme in international discussions concerning immigration. It is expected that the number of people in need of international protection will continue to grow. At the same time, illegal crossings of external borders and human trafficking are characteristic of migration to the EU. The European Commission is leading the search for novel solutions to combat these phenomena in the EU. 

The European Commission issued an extensive Recommendation in September 2020 on the reform of immigration and asylum policy, which emphasises the development of legal migration pathways as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration. The Commission issued also a separate Recommendation on the legal pathways. In this Recommendation, the Commission urges Member States to explore the possibilities of work-based and study-based admission for those in need of international protection and encourages EU Member States to share their experiences and best practices. 

In addition, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a strategy for 2019–2021 to promote the reception of quota refugees and the use of complementary migration pathways at the global level.

Finland has not adopted complementary pathways

According to the Government Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin, the system of legal admission pathways will be developed as part of Finland’s EU policy. The study will create up-to-date information required by the Finnish government and authorities in forming the national view and engaging in the international discussion.  

At present, persons in need of international protection can receive protection from Finland by coming here either as asylum seekers or through a resettlement programme as quota refugees. Complementary pathways are not used in Finland.

The project will produce information to fulfil national needs as well as the needs of other countries as the research report will be written in English. Therefore, the project will support the joint efforts of the EU countries in finding and promoting immigration-related solutions so that functional solutions for an increasing number of people in need of international protection could be found.

The study will be completed in autumn 2021

The research project is part of implementing the government plan for analysis, assessment and research for 2021. The study will be completed in October. The research team includes experts from the Rehabilitation Foundation, Oxford Research AB and the Migration Institute of Finland. Joanne van Selm, an independent researcher on migration and refugee issues, is also participating in the project. 

The project steering group selected the party conducting the research through an open application process. The members of the steering group include representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Additional information:

Anna Rundgren, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 324, [email protected]
Sirkku Varjonen, Senior Researcher, Rehabilitation Foundation, tel. +358 44 781 3141, [email protected]