Resettlement of quota refugees is one way of helping the most vulnerable

Refugees who have left their home country or permanent country of residence for another country, often close to their home countries, may be admitted for resettlement under the refugee quota.
Resettlement 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.

Under the refugee quota, Finland admits persons recognised as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other foreign nationals in need of international protection. The UNHCR identifies those most in need of help and submits a small number of them for resettlement in resettlement countries. Finland has been admitting quota refugees since the 1970s.

The resettlement of quota refugees is an efficient and effective way of helping the most vulnerable refugees, since their need for protection and other conditions for residence are assessed before they arrive in Finland.

In 2018, there were 20.4 million refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate. About 56,000 persons were resettled in the same year. Global resettlement needs have grown in recent years, and the UNHCR estimates that 1.44 million refugees will be in need of resettlement in 2020. Finland and the European Union aim to step up resettlement in the EU and establish resettlement programmes also in those Member States which are not yet involved in it.

Parliament sets an annual refugee quota

Parliament sets an annual refugee quota when the Budget is approved. The Programme of Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s Government states that the number of quota refugees will be increased to a minimum of 850 in 2020. This number will thereafter be assessed annually and set at 850–1,050, taking into account the number of asylum seekers.

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. The 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 is 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.