The fight against illegal immigration requires cooperation between authorities

The authorities cooperate in the fight against illegal immigration and aim to prevent and expose illegal immigration to Finland, the arrangement of illegal immigration, illegal residence, human trafficking and other cross-border crime.

Illegal immigration to the EU reached record-levels in 2015, at the EU’s external borders. According to the EU's European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, approximately 1.8 million illegal entries were detected. Illegal immigration to Europe has multiplied in the last five years and future trends are harder to predict. In the Nordic countries, illegal immigration has remained at a moderate level, mainly due to border checks at internal borders.

Border controls at the external borders play a major role in fighting illegal immigration. A key issue is also what happens when immigrants cross the EU border for the first time. Determining the country responsible for processing an asylum application must be clear-cut: the country where the immigrant first arrives is responsible for registration. The asylum process must be uniform and efficient, regardless of the Member State responsible.

Life as an undocumented migrant is difficult in Finland

Illegal residence is expected to increase in Finland too. Not all asylum seekers whose asylum applications have been rejected leave the country, even though they have the opportunity to do so. They then remain in Finland illegally.

‘Undocumented migrant’ usually refers to a person whose grounds for legal residence are no longer in effect if their asylum application has been refused or their visa has expired. They then face the prospect of returning home. Some do not wish to return and intend to remain in Finland, despite the decisions made by the Finnish authorities and courts.

Finnish legislation stipulates that everyone should have a clear status in society and no one should reside in the country illegally. In the past, Finland has not been a very attractive country for illegal residence because it is very hard to live here as an undocumented migrant.

People residing in the country illegally have no possibility of finding employment, for instance. This in turn leads to a high risk of social exclusion among illegal residents, of their turning to criminal activity to make ends meet, and a high risk of exploitation by criminals or criminal groups in particular.

A key way of preventing this phenomenon is to offer to assist with the voluntary return of persons whose asylum application has been refused. Assisted voluntary return offers the possibility to start a new life in the home country, with the help of financial or material assistance.