The Finnish Immigration Service Migri has announced plans to accelerate the employment processes of Ukrainian people who have sought sanctuary in Finland from the war in their home country.
A residence permit which allows Ukrainians to work in Finland could be available within a couple of weeks, the agency's Director General Jari Kähkönen told Yle. Under the current system, obtaining a residence permit based on the temporary protection status that is being offered to Ukrainian citizens can take several weeks.
Processing of the permit can take up to at least two weeks, while notifying the applicant and delivering the residence card may take another two weeks, However, under the newly-proposed operating model, the applicant will be notified of the decision much quicker, and they will not have to wait for the residence card to be issued before starting work.
Kähkönen admitted that there are possibilities to streamline the process, including dedicating more staff resources to handle the applications.
"This greatly speeds up the way a person on temporary protection is informed of their decision. We estimate that it will accelerate [the process] by at least a week, maybe a week and a half," Kähkönen said, adding that up-to-date contact information for each of the applicants is also of benefit to accelerating the process.
Ukrainians have good job prospects in Finland
In Kähkönen's opinion, Ukrainian citizens who have moved to Finland since Russia's invasion on 24 February have good employment prospects, citing that about 15,000 Ukrainians have previously been involved in seasonal work in Finland, for example, on berry farms.
"I have been told that there are jobs for them. That is why I think it is important that we now try to speed up their employment process," Kähkönen said.
Finnish Immigration Service Director General Jari Kähkönen recently told Yle News' weekly podcast All Points North that Ukrainians arriving into Finland should register with authorities as soon as they can. You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Migri has previously estimated that between 40,000 and 80,000 Ukrainian citizens may arrive in Finland this year alone, and that number could climb higher the longer the war in Ukraine continues.
Ukrainians who arrive and have been granted temporary protection status will have the right to work as well as access to social and healthcare services, the Ministry of Employment and Economic Affairs has stated.
Permit unit bolstered by internal transfers, temporary staff
Kähkönen further told Yle that the number of Migri personnel handling the permit applications of Ukrainian citizens has been increased through both internal transfers and by the hiring of temporary staff. More than 50 people have been transferred from other departments within the agency to support the unit dealing with the temporary protection permits, he said.
He also noted that it is important for the people who have fled Ukraine since the invasion by Russia to return to some form of normal life as soon as possible, and finding a job can help to achieve this.
The agency estimates that about 85 percent of the Ukrainians who have arrived in Finland so far are women, and as many as 40 percent are under the age of 18.
"This means there is a need for school places, and of course the matter is also important for the municipalities that organize these services and opportunities," Kähkönen added.
To date, approximately 15,000 Ukrainian citizens have applied for protection in Finland, more than 20 percent of whom have since received a residence permit decision based on their temporary protection status. The exact number of people who have so far arrived into Finland is likely to be much higher however, as many have yet to register with the authorities.
The Finnish Immigration Service has also issued advice to Ukrainian citizens about offers of work, transport or accommodation.