Migration – agencies and responsibilities

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for formulating Finland’s migration policy and for overall legislation on migration and citizenship. The Ministry guides and develops the administration of migration, and coordinates the related issues between different branches of government. The Ministry of the Interior represents Finland in most migration matters, both within the European Union and in the international arena. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment represents Finland in matters concerning the migration of labour, students, trainees and researchers.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the performance management of the Finnish Immigration Service, which means that – alongside the agency – the Ministry agrees on the performance targets for the budget year and the resources required to meet such targets. As regards labour migration, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for performance guidance together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

The Finnish Immigration Service issues residence permits, registers EU citizens, processes applications for asylum, guides the work of reception centres, makes decisions on denial of admittance or stay and deportation, processes citizenship applications and issues alien’s passports. In addition, it compiles information for the authorities and in support of political decision-making, and national and international cooperation.

The police monitor compliance with the Aliens Act. In addition, the police receive asylum applications, register the applicants and provide them with basic information on the asylum process. The police may decide on denial of admittance or stay within three months of the alien’s entry into the country, if necessary. The police also notify aliens of decisions to remove them from the country and are responsible for the returns.

The Finnish Border Guard monitors entry into and departure from the country, checks passports and, if necessary, makes decisions on visas and denial of admittance or stay at the border. The Border Guard also receives asylum applications, registers the applicants and provides them with basic information on the asylum process.

Immigration officials outside the Ministry of the Interior’s branch of government

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for visa policy. Finnish missions abroad issue visas and accept residence permit applications, and declarations for the acquisition of citizenship.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible for policies and legislation concerning the migration of workers, students, trainees and researchers and guides the developing of the relevant permit processes. It is also responsible for the integration of immigrants and for integration legislation.

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for legislation relating to legal aid for asylum seekers.

Administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court are the appellate authorities in asylum matters.

Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment plan and coordinate integration of immigrants at regional level and guide municipalities in the reception of refugees. They are responsible for preparing for a mass influx of migrants at regional level, together with municipalities and NGOs.

The Ministry of Education and Culture develops education and training for immigrants at different levels of education. Its mandate also covers immigration matters relating to culture, sport, youth work and religion.

The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for matters relating to immigrant education and training, and for recognising the qualifications of foreign nationals.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for promoting immigrants’ health and wellbeing. Its duties also include issues relating to immigrants’ means of support.

Municipalities provide basic municipal services for immigrants living permanently in the municipality, in the same way as for other municipal residents. Municipalities decide individually whether or not to receive quota refugees and asylum seekers who have been issued with residence permits.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is responsible for promoting equality and tackling discrimination. The Ombudsman is an autonomous and independent authority.

NGOs offer a range of services and provide asylum seekers with assistance and advice, as well as participating in integration efforts. NGOs’ expertise in immigration matters is needed when developing legislation and migration policy.