The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) received a record number of work-based residence permit applications in 2021, despite the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on travel and labor mobility.
A report published by Migr on Wednesday showed that more than 36,000 first applications for residence permits were submitted to the agency last year, some 15,000 more than in 2020.
The report also stated that, instead, the number of asylum applications from Finland was exceptionally low in 2021.
The “first residence permit” usually means that the application is submitted abroad before the applicant moves to Finland, and about 15,000 of these first applications were made on the basis of work. Migri approved a total of 11,400 work-based permits.
As in 2020, employment in 2021 was the most common reason to move to Finland.
"Finland also needs workers from abroad. In 2021, a total of 11,428 first residence permits were issued on the basis of work. In 2020, the figure was 8,508," Director General of Migr Jari Kähkönen wrote in a press release.
Other common reasons for applying for a residence permit in Finland were studies (6,711 in 2021 compared to 3,299 in 2020) and family ties (13,764 in 2021 and 8,369 in 2020).
The number of seasonal workers is increasing
There are several types of work-based residence permits depending on the type of work the applicant does in Finland.
Slightly more than half of the positive work-based decisions concerned the residence permits of the employed, which also requires an assessment by TE before the decision is taken by Migr.
According to the agency, these permits are usually applied for by chefs, nurses, cleaners and restaurant workers.
At the same time, experts were granted almost 1,300 residence permits, most of them from Russia, India and China.
The number of seasonal work applications increased again last year, the report states that in 2021, 15,892 seasonal workers received a positive decision, compared to 13,300 in 2020. Most of the seasonal workers come to Finland from Ukraine to pick berries.
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Last year, more than 30,900 applications for extension permits were submitted to Migr, of which only 300 were rejected by the agency. Most of the extension permits were applied for and granted on the basis of work.
The applicant can apply for a continuation permit after living in Finland with a residence permit.
About 11,563 people were granted a permanent residence permit last year, compared to 11,491 in 2020.
Migri aims to make “fast lane” decisions within two weeks
Migri said in a press release that it "The aim is to significantly reduce processing times and make applying for a residence permit as easy and transparent as possible.".
To achieve this goal, the agency intends to reduce processing times for work and study permit applications to a maximum of one month by next year.
This “fast track” service will start operating in June, and its goal is to help experts and start-up entrepreneurs get started in Finland faster. Applications for residence permits for them and their families then take up to two weeks to process, Migri said.
"Moving to Finland should be quick and easy if the customer has a place of work or study and meets the criteria for a residence permit," Deputy Director of Migr Elina Immonen said.
Last year, the first residence permit was issued to experts in an average of 15 days (22 days in 2020), to start-ups in 24 days (2020: 70) and to employed in 75 days (compared). 143 in 2020).
"Last year, we were able to reduce processing times for work-based migration. However, this is not enough, as the number of applications is expected to increase. Therefore, further development efforts are needed," Immonen added.
Asylum applications, renewals decreased
The number of asylum seekers from Finland was "exceptionally low" last year, Migri noted.
The Agency received 2,545 asylum applications in 2021, up from 3,209 in 2020. As in previous years, the majority of asylum applications were from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
"The decrease in applications was partly due to a decrease in the number of subsequent applications (1,162 in 2021 and 1,934 in 2020). A subsequent application is an application for asylum lodged by an asylum seeker after receiving a final decision on an earlier application for asylum," Migrant freedom stated.
The Finnish refugee quota in 2021 was 1,050 people. Last year, a total of 1,090 quota refugees were granted asylum in Finland, some of whom came from the 2020 quota.
About 891 of the total number of quota refugees arrived in Finland last year.
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"At present, only a small number of asylum seekers arrive in Finland, although refugees still have reasons to leave their country. Only a small proportion of the world’s refugees are able to move away from areas close to conflict," CEO Kähkönen said.
The situation on the Belarusian border has not significantly affected the number of asylum seekers from Finland. According to Migr’s figures, about 40 asylum applications contained references to a route through Belarus.
Special permits for those evacuated from Afghanistan
Last year, Migri coordinated the reception of evacuees from Afghanistan in Finland as the country’s political situation changed rapidly and the Taliban came to power.
As a result, 236 Afghan citizens were granted a residence permit for special humanitarian reasons by a decree of the Finnish government. Their number is not included in the asylum statistics.
A total of 88 Afghans who arrived on evacuation flights from Kabul sought asylum in Finland, most of them family members of consular protection.
Otherwise, the political unrest in Afghanistan was not reflected in the number of asylum applications Migr received, as in 2021, only 400 Afghans applied.
In February 2020, Finland agreed to receive 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from Mediterranean refugee camps, and this quota was reached last year.
Migration statistics for 2021 can be found at tilastot.migri.fi. Instructions for using the statistical service and statistics for 2015 can be found in PDF format at On the website of the Finnish Immigration Service.
Source: The Nordic Page