Assisted voluntary return provides the opportunity to start a new life in the home country

Under certain conditions, Finland may assist voluntary return to the home country. For instance, assistance may be given to third-country nationals who have sought international protection and who leave Finland voluntarily and permanently after cancelling their application or after their residence permit application has been rejected.

In addition, persons whose departure from the country was temporarily prevented and victims of human trafficking, who are not resident in Finland, are eligible for assistance.

Assistance for voluntary return may cover the costs of the return journey and financial assistance to enable the returning immigrant to start a new life in the home country.

Assistance may be financial or in-kind assistance. In-kind assistance means various items or services helping the person to start a small business, or secure entry to a degree programme.

The Finnish Immigration Service and the reception centre where the returning asylum seeker is registered are responsible for organising the voluntary return and assistance. As a partner of the Finnish Immigration Service, the International Organization for Migration IOM may make travel arrangements and provide assistance at the airport during the return trip.

Voluntary return is the primary option in all cases

Foreign nationals residing in Finland illegally and without a permit – of the kind issued when granted asylum, for example – are removed from the country. The goal is to arrange their voluntary return within the set time limit.

Depending on the situation, return may be secured by escorting the person concerned to the destination. Larger groups can also be returned on chartered aircraft or return flights coordinated by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Returns of foreign nationals are carried out by the police.

Close relations between Finnish authorities, mainly the police, and officials and diplomatic missions in the destination countries are key to successful returns.

Returns can also be carried out without readmission agreements. The police carry out returns to over 100 countries annually, although Finland has concluded readmission agreements with only some of these countries. Readmission agreements are thus only one tool to support returns, because without a separate readmission agreement returns can be carried out to almost all countries in the world.