Expatriate Finns are united by their Finnish identity
Expatriate Finns are Finnish citizens or people of Finnish origin who live permanently outside Finland. Approximately 300,000 Finnish citizens live outside the country, and according to some estimates, the number of people with a Finnish descent is up to 1.6–2 million worldwide. Most Finns move to Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and Spain.
Important issues for expatriates include:
- citizenship issues and consular services
- voting and other opportunities to have a say and be involved
- schools that teach the Finnish language and culture (Suomi-koulu)
- maintaining the Finnish language and culture abroad
- support for those who wish to return, especially in employment matters
- provision of expertise for Finnish companies in the country of residence.
Finnish Expatriate Parliament as a link between central government and expatriates
The Ministry of the Interior has a coordination role in central government related to the affairs of expatriate Finns. The link between the central government and expatriates is the Finnish Expatriate Parliament. Every few years, the Finnish Expatriate Parliament asks expatriate Finns for suggestions and ideas and submits them to the Finnish Government.
The Finnish Expatriate Parliament is part of the Finland Society, which promotes the affairs of Finns living abroad. The Finland Society has been the link between expatriate Finns and Finland for over 90 years.
Position of expatriates undergoing change
Net migration of Finnish citizens was negative throughout the 2010s, which means that more Finnish citizens left the country than returned to the country. However, the year 2020 was a notable exception. In particular, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the UK's withdrawal from the EU have increased interest in moving back to Finland.
The position of expatriates is changing. The physical location is no longer as important as before in terms of work, and living and working in two or more countries are becoming more common. Moving abroad can also be a temporary decision.
Strategy on Expatriate Finns responds to the needs of Finns living abroad
The Ministry of the Interior has published the Strategy on Expatriate Finns 2022–2026. It seeks to strengthen the contacts of expatriate Finns with Finnish society: the aim is to ensure that Finland is better able to serve its citizens regardless of time and place, and to support Finnish identity and culture abroad. On the other hand, the Strategy also aims to make it easier for expatriate Finns to return to Finland.
The Strategy sets objectives and actions to respond to the service needs of expatriate Finns and to make better use of their expertise. Implementation will be monitored by the new governmental working group on expatriate Finns.
The Strategy is a continuation of three previous policy programmes. It was prepared by a cross-government working group, with the Finland Society (Suomi-Seura ry) and the Migration Institute of Finland also involved in the process. Expatriate Finns and Finnish expatriate communities were widely consulted during the preparation process.