While the Number of Asylum Seekers to Finland Drops, Job-Based Migration Increases
During the previous government, several changes in the law were introduced to make it easier for entrepreneurs and experts to move to Finland, and thereby promote economic growth and employment.
“The basic premise is that, in addition to the domestic workforce, Finland needs employees also from abroad. There is intense competition in the world for international talents,” said Jorma Vuorio, the director general at the migration department of the Ministry of the Interior, in a statement.
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The residence permit system must be as smooth as possible so as not to complicate the recruitment of talents to Finland. A preliminary study last year looked into the causes of delays in the work permit process and into what could be done to address them. This spring, the development of the work permit process will be coordinated.
The migration of students and researchers has also been made easier. The duration of residence permits of researchers and students from non-EU countries was extended in September 2018, and these groups are encouraged to take up employment and entrepreneurship with a relevant residence permit.
Major decline in numbers of asylum seekers
The number of new asylum seekers has already fallen to below the level seen before 2015.
However, the Finnish asylum system is still overburdened as the number of clients registered in the reception system is decreasing slowly. This is affected by the asylum procedure having been prolonged because of large numbers of applicants in previous years, the numbers of re-applications submitted, the increased difficulty of returns and the unattractiveness of voluntary returns.
Recent legislative changes have reduced opportunities to abuse the re-application procedure. Since July 2018, the Finnish Immigration Service is required to process asylum applications within six months of their submission.
Finland has continued bilateral negotiations with Iraq and Somalia concerning the return of their citizens. To accelerate voluntary return, support for assisted voluntary return was increased at the beginning of this year.
Reform of the Common European Asylum System continues
Negotiations towards the reform of the Common European Asylum system have continued in the European Union. Issues of the Dublin Regulation relating to themes including solidarity and responsibility-sharing have yet to be solved.
“Reform is difficult but necessary. Border checks currently take place at many borders between the member states, which is against the basic idea of the Schengen Area. It may, however, be difficult to discontinue these checks if the union cannot reach a common view on immigration policy,” Vuorio said. “The main points are in any case clear. The EU common immigration policy must be sustainable, respect fundamental and human rights and be commonly approved by citizens.”
During its presidency of the Council of the EU beginning in July, Finland will seek to contribute towards breaking the deadlock in the negotiations and promote reform of the asylum system.