Expatriate Finns are united by their Finnish identity
Expatriate Finns are Finnish citizens or people of Finnish origin who live permanently outside Finland. The number of expatriate Finns is estimated to be nearly 2 million globally, and the number of Finnish citizens living abroad is around 300,000. 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.
Ministry of the Interior coordinates strategy work
The Ministry of the Interior is coordinating the preparation of a strategy on expatriate Finns. The strategy will be drawn up for five years. Other ministries, the Finland Society and the Finnish Expatriate Parliament will participate in drafting the strategy. The strategy for the five-year period of 2022–2026 will be completed in December 2021.
The strategy aims to give expatriates more opportunities to have a say and make it easier for those who are interested in returning to Finland to settle here.