EU Resettlement Network

Finland

    Source: ICMC Europe, Welcome to Europe! A Comprehensive Guide to Resettlement, 2013

    The Welcome to Europe Finland country chapter is available here for download.

    Resettlement Quota & Actors

    Start of ad-hoc programme: 1979

    Start of annual quota: 1985

    Current quota: 1,050 in 2014 

    Main national actors: Ministry of the Interior, Finnish Immigration Service (MIGRI), Security Police, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment (ELY), municipalities, Finnish Red Cross.

    Resettlement numbers

     Year Accepted Arrivals Nationality ⇒ Country of asylum of largest groups

    2014

    (anticipated)

      600

    Afghans ⇒ Iran

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria, Jordan and Lebanon

    Refugees ex-Turkey

    2013    675

    Afghans ⇒ Iran (202)

    Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, Somalis ⇒ Turkey (161)

    Congolese ⇒ Southern Africa (Malawi & Zambia) (150)

    Sudanese ⇒ Egypt (150)

    Somalis ⇒ Kenya (18)

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria, Jordan and Lebanon (4)

    2012 734 689

    Afghans ⇒ Iran & Turkey (192)

    Congolese ⇒ Rwanda (165)

    Afghans, Somalis, Iranians, Iraqis ⇒ Turkey (143)

    Burmese, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Pakistanis, Somalis ⇒ Thailand (132)

    Emergency cases ⇒ various (102)

    2011 626 460

    Afghans ⇒ Iran (265)

    Burmese, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Pakistanis, Somalis ⇒ Thailand (169)

    Congolese ⇒ Rwanda (92)

    Emergency cases ⇒ various (100)

    2010 634 571

    Afghans ⇒ Iran (153)

    Burmese, Sri Lankan, Pakistanis ⇒ Thailand (147)

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria (145)

    Congolese ⇒ Rwanda (126)

    Emergency cases ⇒ various (63)

    2009 727 627

    Iraqis & Palestinians ⇒ Syria& Jordan (327)

    Congolese ⇒ Rwanda (151)

    Burmese, Sri Lankan ⇒ Thailand (149)

    Emergency cases ⇒ various (100)

     

    UNHCR Submission categories considered for resettlement

    X Legal and physical protection needs

    X Survivors of violence and torture

    X Medical Needs -30 cases under the Twenty-or-More (TOM) programme

    X Women and girls at risk  

    X Family reunification -  outside the quota

    X Children And adolescents at risk

    X Lack of foreseeable alternative solutions

    UNHCR Priority levels accepted (with sub-quota where applicable)

    X Emergency max. 7 days between submission and resettlement

    X Urgent  within 6 weeks between submission and resettlement - 100 cases are allocated to emergency and urgen submissions

    X Normal  within 12 months between submission and resettlement

     

    Finland's resettlement programme

    Legal basis

    Section 90 of the 2004 Finnish Aliens Act defines the 'refugee quota' and procedures for resettlement.  Section 91 of the Act empowers the Ministry of Interior to determine on annual basis which refugees will be resettled to Finland, and resettlement criteria and eligibility are set out in Section 92.  The annual quota is confirmed in the annual state budget.

    Resettlement criteria

    Basic criteria

    • The refugee is in need of international protection with regard to his or her home country.
    • The refugee is in need of resettlement from the first country of asylum.
    • The requirements for admitting and integrating the alien into Finland have been assessed.
    • There are no obstacles to issuing a residence permit in terms of public order, security, health or Finland's international relations.

    Criteria relating to integration

    During the selection process, the Finnish government assesses both refugees' individual and group potential for integration, and the capacity of participating Finnish municipalities to meet the integration needs of refugees.

    Factors that are taken into account in the assessment of individual potential for integration into Finnish society include:

    • the educational background of all family members (including literacy and knowledge of the Latin alphabet);
    • employment experience;
    • health status; and
    • the effect that resettlement might have on individual refugees.

    A lack of integration potential does not preclude resettlement as such if other factors - such as the need for international protection or for resettlement - favour the selection of particular refugees. Assessments of individual 'integration potential' aim to effect the selection of as 'balanced' a group as possible.  Each group should include persons who wish to function as a resource person for their community, and who have expressed an acceptance of this role and demonstrated their potential to fulfill it at the selection interview. 

    An assessment of the integration capacity of both of the municipalities considers available services and their ability to respond to the needs of refugees, the presence of similar communities and social networks, the presence of support or ‘resource’ persons, and of family members and/or relatives.  The outcomes of this assessment also influence placement decisions of those refugees finally selected for resettlement.

    Identification & Selection

    The normal method used for selecting refugees is through personal interviews conducted during selection missions that are undertaken by officials of the Ministry of Labour, the Directorate of Immigration and, if necessary, officials of the Security Police.

    During the selection mission the delegation presents a briefing with basic information to provide refugees with an introduction to Finland. A decision is made on the cases within two months of the selection mission. Dossier selection in cases other than those prioritised as urgent and emergency is possible in principle but has not traditionally been practised.

    Refugee Status, Permanent Residency & Citizenship

    Resettled refugees are granted refugee status in Finland and receive a residence permit on arrival.  Residence permits are granted for 4 years, after which resettled refugees may apply for Finnish citizenship. Applicants for citizenship are required to demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge (level 3 of the Finnish National Foreign Language Certificate) of written and oral Finnish or Swedish.  Illiterate applicants may be exempted from the language requirement, although must demonstrate either a basic understanding of Finnish or Swedish or regular participation in a language class.  Those whose citizenship applications are not accepted after 4 years residency may apply for a 4-year extension of their residence permit, which then becomes a permanent residence permit.

    Family reunification

    In addition to married partners, children under 18 and parents of children under 18, unmarried partners (including same-sex partners) are also eligible for family reunification if:

    • they have cohabited for at least 2 years; or
    • have a child together; and
    • are in a 'marriage-like' partnership.

    Relationships must be proven either with identity documents, other documentary evidence or (in the case of parent-child relationships) DNA tests. There is no requirement to demonstrate sufficient income to support joining family members.

    Resettlement in Practice

    Linking Phases

    How is information transferred between selection and reception of refugees in order to prepare for their arrival?

    • Forwarding pertinent information from Refugee Referral Form (RRF) to integration actors. A copy of the RRF and any associated documentation (such as medical documents or a Best Interest Determination (BID) for Unaccompanied Minors) is sent to the receiving municipality ahead of refugees' arrival.  Where refugees are interviewed during selection missions, RRFs that are sent to municipalities also include interviewer notes.
    • Integration experts assess refugees’ integration potential during selection interviews (see ‘Resettlement criteria’, above) and record their comments and recommendations.  MIGRI forwards this information to the receiving municipality.

    Pre-departure

    Cultural orientation: During 2004-10, refugees selected via selection missions received a 3-day CO programme (FINCO) delivered by IOM, covering practical information about Finland, refugee rights and responsibilities, resettlement travel and reception procedures and basic Finnish phrases. FINCO was not delivered in 2011-12.  At the request of MIGRI, IOM is currently developing a new FINCO to be delivered later in 2013.

    Medical exam: Agreement between the Finnish government and IOM, under which IOM performs fit-for-travel examination as necessary and/or requested.

    Travel arrangement: IOM

    Integration in Practice

    Reception

    Volunteers trained by the Finnish Red Cross welcome refugees at the airport and accompany them to the receiving municipality.

    Placement policies

    Municipalities voluntarily agree to receive a specific number of refugees each year, including both resettled refugees and those granted protection through the asylum system.  Receiving refugees requires political approval from local councils. To date   140 Finnish municipalities have received resettled refugees.  ELY Centres - regional administrative authorities for employment and the economy - negotiate refugee numbers, preferred nationalities and reception and integration programmes with municipalities (Click here for further information on ELY Centres and an overview of regional divisions).  Since 2009, the total number of resettlement places offered by Finnish municipalities has not been sufficient to fill the annual quota of 750 persons.

    MIGRI considers the presence of relatives, similar ethnic groups and/or nationalities and the availability of interpreters when making placement decisions, and places refugees with specific medical needs in municipalities near an appropriate hospital or medical services.  

    MIGRI pays receiving municipalities a 'calculatory lump sum' per refugee (€6,845 for those under 7 years and €2,300 per year for persons older than 7) to cover costs related to finding accommodation and providing social services, healthcare, specialist psychological counselling, and employment training and support.  The maximum reimbursement period for resettled refugees is 4 years, one year longer than for refugees exiting the asylum system. In addition, ELY Centres reimburse municipalities for additional costs relating to receiving refugees with serious medical needs. If refugees move to another municipality, all lump sum and reimbursement payments are reallocated to the new municipality.  Finnish municipalities are also compensated for the costs of interpreting services, and municipalities receiving unaccompanied minors are reimbursed all costs until the person concerned is 21 years old.  MIGRI reimburses the full amount of the individual integration subsidy issued to refugees by receiving municipalities.

    Some municipalities still decline to offer places, arguing that payments do not meet the cost of receiving resettled refugees - particularly vulnerable and high needs cases - and that the system for reclaiming costs is too complex and bureaucratic.  The wider context for these discussions is the ongoing tension between the national government and some municipalities over planned reforms to local government in Finland.

    Additionally, given the lack of places in municipalities, many of those granted refugee status via the asylum system have chosen to arrange their own accommodation rather than waiting in a reception centre until it is allocated to them.  This has increased pressure on already scarce housing supply for refugees in larger cities near to reception centres.

    Integration services & support

    Length: 3 years

    The 2011 Act on Integration of migrants, including refugees, emphasises the need to provide integration support as soon as possible after arrival into Finland. The Act also sets targets for proficiency in Finnish and Swedish. Integration services are available to all new arrivals to Finland who have a residence permit. 

    While all migrants undergo an initial interview assessment to determine if they need an individual integration plan, resettled refugees always receive a plan. For those able to seek employment the plans are drafted by local employment offices and focus specifically on finding employment.  For those not likely to enter the labour market in the near future - such as the elderly, those with young children or with disabilities - the integration plan is drafted by municipality social services. 

    Integration plans outline the activities to be completed during the 3-year period.  'Integration training' as defined in the 2011 legislation forms a central part of each plan, and comprises 60 study units of language-learning and orientation into Finnish society. Follow-up activities can include vocational training, skills development and voluntary work, and in some cases may also include short work placements or internships.  Civil society organisations often work in partnership with municipalities to provide additional services and activities for resettled refugees, such as the volunteer befrienders assigned to resettled refugees by the Finnish Red Cross.

    Refugees and migrants following an integration plan receive a monthly integration subsidy from the receiving municipality that averages €674 per month. Additional financial support is provided to families with children, and the maximum duration of integration subsidy payments for all migrants is 3 years.  Refugees who move to another municipality retain their entitlement to an integration subsidy.

    Use of the European Refugee Fund (ERF)

    Persons resettled using 2012 ERF funding

    Persons resettled from a country or region designated for the implementation of a Regional Protection Programme

    X Unaccompanied minors

    X Women and children at risk; particularly from psychological physical or sexual violence or exploitation

    X Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF specific categories for 2013

    Persons resettled from a country or region designated for the implementation of a Regional Protection Programme

    X Women and children at risk

    X Unaccompanied minors

    X Survivors of torture and violence

    X Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    X Persons in need of emergency resettlement or urgent resettlement for legal or physical protection needs

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF resettlement common EU priorities for 2013

    X Congolese refugees in the Great Lakes Region

    X Refugees from Iraq in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan

    X Afghan refugees in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran

    Somali refugees in Ethiopia

    Burmese refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand

    Eritrean refugees in Eastern Sudan

     

    Evaluations

    Although some evaluation studies have been conducted on health, housing or internal migration of immigrants in Finland, including refugees, to date no comprehensive assessment of the Finnish resettlement programme has been completed.   Each local integration training course is evaluated on its own terms, and civil society organisations may also conduct period evaluations and assessments of their activities for refugees.

    Strengths & Challenges

    Strengths

    • A strong political commitment to receiving vulnerable groups of resettled refugees within the annual resettlement quota. 
    • Relatively large numbers of quota places reserved for emergency and urgent cases.
    • Political leadership on integration - strong legislative basis for the national programme and allocation of resources for research and pilot projects. 

    Challenges

    • Insufficient places offered by municipalities for resettlement, resulting in an underutilisation of the resettlement quota and increased waiting times in countries of asylum for refugees accepted for resettlement to Finland.  These delays impact significantly on the capacity of the Finnish programme to offer protection to urgent and emergency cases.
    • No pre-departure CO within the current programme.
    • Some resettled refugees have experienced racism and discrimination in Finnish municipalities.

    New developments

    The VIPRO Project has been extended until May 2014.

    The ERF co-financed VIPRO Project was established by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in October 2012, in response to the declining number of places for refugees offered by Finnish municipalities.   The project has 4 key objectives:

    • to recommend improvements to the system for reimbursing municipalities' costs for receiving refugees;
    • to produce a strategy for improving the refugee reception system at the national and local levels;
    • to make recommendations for increasing the availability of psychosocial support for refugees in Finland; and
    • to produce a web-based handbook for local refugee reception.

    In 2013, the second phase of the project will begin negotiations with relevant stakeholders on how to regulate independent moves from reception centres to municipalities, and explore the status and integration perspectives of unaccompanied minors after the asylum process.

    Resources & news

    Other Programmes/ Projects

    From 2003 to 2005, the Finnish Ministry of Labour managed the MORE - Modeling of National Resettlement Process and Implementation of Emergency Measures- project along with Ireland. The goal of the project was to develop models for resettlement, which could be followed by the new EU countries considering joining the resettlement programme.

    From December 2006 to January 2008, the Finnish Ministry of Labour also directed the MOST -Modeling of Orientation, Services and Training Related to the Resettlement and Reception of Refugees –project, in partnership with Spain, Ireland and Sweden. The project was funded by the ERF and carried out in cooperation with the UNHCR, ECRE and the IOM. The purpose of MOST activities and seminars was to improve the integration of resettled refugees in Europe from the beginning of the resettlement process (selection) to the establishment of refugees in their host society (labour market and social integration, language acquisition etc.).

    Apart from leading this international project, Finland carried out ‘The Work-Based Training Model’, a component addressing the challenge of integration by piloting a programme of direct inclusion into the labour market. Language classes were carried out simultaneously with work training experience. The activities were organized by the Ministry of Labour and implemented immediately after the arrival of the 35 Myanmarese refugees who agreed to participate in the project. A summary can be found in the MOST Project publication ‘Promoting Independence in Resettlement, published in 2008.

    Resources

    UNHCR Resettlement Handbook, Finland Country Chapter, June 2013 revision [Read more]