Refugees flee persecution in their home countries

An asylum seeker is a person who seeks asylum and the right to reside in a foreign nation. A refugee is someone who has been granted asylum in one state or another. A person may receive refugee status if they arrive in Finland based on a proposal by the UNHCR with respect to Finland's refugee quota. Asylum seekers become refugees if they are granted asylum.

Since 2000, Finland has received 1,500–6,000 asylum seekers each year, aside from 2015, in which a record number of asylum seekers, 32,476, arrived following the refugee crisis. Since then the numbers have levelled off. In 2018, the number of new asylum seekers fell below the level seen before 2015.

Asylum seekers leave their home countries for various reasons; for example, to escape war, persecution or insecurity. Most of them end up in regions neighbouring their own countries. Some seek asylum in Europe. Where asylum seekers eventually end up depends on a number of factors, such as the travel route or their knowledge of the country in question.

International protection granted to those in need

Finland is committed by international agreements to providing international protection to those in need. The basis of this is the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and other international human rights treaties and EU legislation.

International protection refers to refugee status or subsidiary protection in Finland. The Aliens Act includes provisions on the grounds and procedures according to which international protection is granted.

A person may seek international protection by submitting an application for asylum. The authorities investigate whether that person has the right to be granted asylum. If the preconditions for being granted asylum are not met, the authorities investigate whether the person is entitled to subsidiary protection in Finland.

Subsidiary protection can be granted if the person is threatened by a serious danger, other than persecution, on the basis of which asylum may be granted. Grounds for receiving subsidiary protection may include the threat of death penalty or torture. Serious personal danger arising from an armed conflict would be another reason of this kind.

Beneficiaries of international protection

According to the EU Qualification Directive (2011/95/EU), a person is considered to be in receipt of international protection if they are granted refugee status (they have been granted asylum or have arrived in the country as a quota refugee) or subsidiary protection.

In addition, temporary protection can be granted to persons who have fled their country due to acts of war, or another violent situation or environmental disaster.