Irregular entry and stay are prevented through cooperation between authorities

Irregular entry and stay remain low in Finland when compared to all migration to Finland. Most people move legally to Finland on the basis of work, family ties and studies.

Likewise, most people enter the EU legally for family-related reasons or for work. Only a small fraction of people enter the EU illegally.

Irregular entry, irregular stay, irregular immigration – what are they?

Irregular entry means entering the country without complying with the conditions laid down in the law of the country of destination. In practice, it is often a question of persons not having the permits or documents required by law. In this case, their stay in the country of destination is usually illegal if they do not regularise their stay, for example by applying for asylum. In everyday Finnish, the term paperittomuus, meaning undocumented, is often used for irregular entry.

Many asylum seekers do not have a travel document or residence permit or visa when arriving in the country, so they are registered as irregular migrants. Nonetheless, everyone still has the fundamental right to apply for asylum. When an application for asylum has been submitted, the applicant is considered legally resident in the country. The authorities investigate whether that person has the right to asylum.

Irregular immigration means the abuse of legal means of entry. For example, a visa or residence permit may be applied for on grounds that do not correspond to the actual purpose of the entry. The authority may then be given false information or forged documents.

Authorities' actions already begin in the countries of origin of migration

Authorities prepare the Action Plan for the Prevention of Irregular Entry and Stay through cooperation for four years at a time. The Action Plan for 2021–2024 was published in May 2021.
The Action Plan includes actions to be taken by the authorities to combat irregular entry and stay, and to detect abuses, cases of exploitation and trafficking in human beings. At the same time, the emergence of a parallel society will be prevented.

The actions have been divided chronologically into five different themes: 

  1. actions in the countries of origin and transit of migration
  2. actions at the border
  3. actions in Finland
  4. actions to promote return
  5. actions concerning those without a right of stay in the country. 

The phenomenon must be examined comprehensively. At the same time, it is important to make sure that the actions are both effective and humane.

Especially at national level, cooperation and the exchange of information between authorities play a key role in combating irregular entry and stay. It is also important for Finland to be actively involved in EU cooperation, as the results achieved are often more effective than the national measures taken by a small Member State.