Finland is closer to achieving the governmental objective of becoming a pole of attraction for skilled labour from all over the world. And also to achieve another undeclared goal of its migration policy: to make migration flows dominated by labor migration, rather than by asylum seekers.
The growing presence of people in search for international protection since 2015 has polarized society. As a consequence, this once welcoming country has experienced several internal tensions, such as the rise of xenophobia and hate speech, a problem which authorities are trying to address now.
The latest figures already suggest a change in trend.
The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) published today its statistics for 2019. According to them, last year work replaced family as the most common reason to immigrate to Finland. A total of 12,687 first residence permit applications were submitted on these grounds, which is 1,882 (or 17.4%) more than in 2018.
Permits for experts and employees
Almost half of those applications concerned residence permits for employees.
According to the current regulation, the processing of this kind of permit includes consideration related to availability by the public employment service (TE office), which must do an evaluation of each case before Migri can issue a decision. The number of applications submitted in 2019 was 6,270, a number higher than that of 2018 (5,791).
The number of applications also increased in almost all other work-related permit types, such as permits for special experts (1,791 in 2019 compared to 1,536 in 2018).
The growth can also be accounted to the new permit types for seasonal work introduced in 2018. A total of 2,051 residence permit applications were submitted for seasonal work (in 2018 there were 1,055). In addition to residence permits, 9,940 seasonal work certificates (for less than three months), while the number in 2018 was 6,839.
The total number of residence permit applications (in all its forms) increased by 4,936 from 2018. A total of 71,317 persons applied for a residence permit (in 2018 they were 66,381). In addition to work, a residence permit can be applied for on the basis of family ties or for studying, for example.
Brexit boosted EU citizens registration
A total of 10,051 EU citizens applied for the registration of their right of residence last year (in 2018 there were 10,291 such applications). Of the applicants, 1,158 were citizens of Great Britain (660 in 2018).
In a year in which the political debate in the European Union was dominated by Brexit, registrations of British citizens almost doubled. UK citizens were the second largest applicant group in EU registrations.
"British citizens were advised to register throughout the year. The separate law that entered into force last spring allows British citizens to stay in Finland with EU citizens’ rights until the end of 2020," says Tiina Suominen, Director, Immigration Unit.
However, the total number of EU citizens who were registered last year was 8,533, a number slightly lower than that in 2018 (8,749). A clear majority of the EU citizens who moved to Finland were, again, Estonians (1,649 in 2019; 2,070 in 2018). Most of the registrations were based on work.
Deportation decisions increased by 84%
Last year, 1,839 deportation decisions based on illegal residence were made. This was 84,4% more than in 2018 (997).
According to Migri, most of the deportation decisions based on illegal residence concerned Uzbekistan citizens (331 cases in 2019; 10 cases in 2018).
A total of 124 deportation decisions were based on crime (95 in 2018).