The resettlement of quota refugees is one way of helping people in severe distress

The resettlement of quota refugees is the most effective way of helping refugees in severe distress, since their need for protection is assessed before they arrive in Finland. Under the refugee quota, Finland admits persons recognised as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other foreign nationals in need of international protection.

Persons residing as refugees in another country and submitted for resettlement by the UNHCR are selected for admission to Finland as quota refugees. In most cases, such people are residing in countries close to their home countries. The UNHCR recognises them as refugees and aims to resettle them in countries where they have the possibility of starting a new life. Resettlement of refugees means the selection of refugees and their transfer from the first country of asylum to another country that is ready and willing to grant them a residence permit.

Finland has been admitting quota refugees since the 1970s. Finland and the European Union would like more countries to take action in this respect and establish their own refugee resettlement programmes.

The Finnish Parliament sets an annual refugee quota

The Finnish Parliament sets an annual refugee quota as part of the budget process for each year. In recent years, the refugee quota has been 750, with the exception of 2014 and 2015, when the quota was increased due to the war in Syria.

Working in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of the Interior prepares a proposal for the territorial allocation of the refugee quota. The proposal is based on an estimate of the refugee resettlement needs around the world, which is drawn up by the UNHCR each year, and on the proposal submitted to Finland by the UNHCR. The Government decides on the territorial allocation of the quota.

The UNHCR submits a list of persons from whom the Finnish authorities then select the quota refugees to be admitted to Finland. The selection is usually made on the basis of interviews. The Finnish Immigration Service decides on the granting of residence permits for quota refugees. Persons admitted to Finland as quota refugees proposed by the UNHCR are granted refugee status.

The need for international protection is the key criterion for resettlement. In addition, the potential for successful reception and integration into Finnish society are assessed when quota refugees are selected. A person may be refused admission if he or she is thought to pose a threat to public order and security, public health or Finland’s international relations.

In its quota policy, Finland emphasises the resettlement of the most vulnerable groups, such as families with children and women in a difficult position (widows, single parents and single women).

About ten per cent of the annual quota is reserved for refugees resettled on an emergency or urgent basis.