The Director of the Asylum Division of the Finnish Immigration Service said that more than 70 decisions have been made so far. Anti Lehtinen At the press conference.
Two-thirds of them are negative and one-third are cancelled. For example, the application expires when the asylum seeker leaves Finland.
About 190 asylum seekers who came through Russia have disappeared from reception centers.
– Their target country is Finland, not the Lehtinen states.
A significant proportion of asylum seekers arriving via the eastern border had previously tried to reach EU territory via Belarus.
By the end of the year, fewer than 1,300 asylum seekers had crossed the Russian border into Finland. According to Lehtinen, the amount is slightly lower than preliminary information based on information from the Border Patrol.
Asylum seekers who came through the eastern border are mainly men aged 20-30. There are other types of people in the group, including some unaccompanied minors. These asylum seekers include more than 20 nationalities, but most of them are citizens of Syria, Somalia or Yemen.
According to Ilkka Haahtela, director general of the Finnish Immigration Service, the situation at the eastern border is the first time a large-scale attempt to enter the Schengen area through Finland has been made.
– Hahtela said at the press conference that we are in the same situation as the countries of Southern Europe were before.
The number of citizenship applications has increased
According to the Finnish Immigration Service, the number of citizenship applications has increased significantly in 2023. More than 13,000 received citizenship. By 2022, this number will be around 10,500.
Last year, 18,000 citizenship applications were submitted.
– This is a really significant increase compared to the previous year, said Paulina Helminen, Head of the Permits and Citizenship Division of the Finnish Immigration Service.
The Finnish Immigration Service estimates that the increase in the number of citizenship applications has been partly affected by the government's planned changes to the conditions for granting Finnish citizenship. Changes are being prepared in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to Helminen, since last summer, many people who previously intended to apply have rushed to apply for citizenship.
– This phenomenon is very new, Helminen said.
Citizens of Russia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia submitted the most citizenship applications. About 30 percent of those who applied for citizenship received international protection.
According to the Immigration Office, work-related immigration decreased last year compared to 2022. About 17,000 new work-based residence permit applications were made last year, and nearly 21,000 in 2022.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service, the background for the large number of work-related immigration is, among other things, Finland's labor shortage and the development of companies' recruitment networks. The decline in the number of applications has been attributed to the economic slowdown and a slowdown in the construction industry.
On the other hand, in the social and health care industries, work-related immigration increased last year. By 2023, nearly 2,300 residence permits were issued to workers in these sectors.
– Of course, this tells about the labor shortage in the industry, Helminen said.
According to Helminen, there are people with work-related residence permits, especially in the capital region, other parts of southern Finland and southwestern Finland. They are equally distributed across the country in terms of social and health status.
Fewer asylum seekers are expected
The Finnish Immigration Service estimates that around 3,500–4,500 new asylum applications will be submitted in Finland this year and next year. Last year, the number was around 5,400, which is slightly less than the 5,800 asylum applications made in 2022.
– Despite the situation on the eastern border, the number of applications has decreased, Anti Lehtinen said.
According to Lehtinen, the war in the Palestinian territory of Gaza has resulted in very few asylum applications in Finland.
– We are talking about a good ten applicants from there, he said.
The number of applications in 2022 was affected by the fact that Ukrainians fleeing the war to Finland initially applied for asylum. Later, they allowed the possibility of temporary protection, which was granted to a certain group of people without individual consideration.
The immigration office estimates that there will be around 8,000-12,000 applicants for temporary protection this year.
– In total, more than four million people have fled the war in Ukraine, Lehtinen said.
After one year of stay in Finland, applicants for temporary protection have the right to apply for stay in Finland. By the end of last year, about 15,800 Ukrainians had obtained residency.
– They have the same rights, obligations and services as permanent residents in Finland, said Elena Nurmi, director of the reception department.
Last year, almost 19,000 people who left Ukraine were granted temporary protection. In total, almost 67,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war have arrived in Finland since 2022.
The Finnish Immigration Service says temporary protection residence permits for people who have left Ukraine will be extended until March 2025 without an application this year.
Most of those who applied for temporary protection last year were between the ages of 35 and 64, with just under a quarter younger. 57 percent are females and 43 percent are males.