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Finland to tighten rules on residency

Asylum seekers whose claims are rejected are currently entitled to be granted temporary residence permits for two years, after which their permit is in practice made permanent. Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen announced on Thursday that she wants to close the loophole.

Image: Tommi Parkkinen / Yle

Finland is looking to tighten regulations on failed asylum seekers, in an effort to prevent them being granted temporary residence permits.

Some 200 failed asylum seekers in Finland are currently in this position, having refused to return to their home country despite receiving a refusal to grant asylum or even being deported from Finland.

According to current legislation they should be granted a temporary residence permit for two years, after which their residence is in practice made permanent. That is the result of a Supreme Administrative Court ruling last year.

Finland has for the last two years been running a project under which asylum seekers can be granted around 1,000 euros to return to their home country, but that has been insufficient to tempt unsuccessful asylum seekers to leave the country.

Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen said on Thursday that she wants to change the current system.

"A person that does not voluntarily leave to a country seen as safe gets a temporary residence permit, that after two years becomes a permanent residence permit," said Räsänen. "We propose that the law is changed so that temporary residence permits are no longer granted on that basis."

After the ruling last April some 222 people have received temporary residence permits even though their asylum claim has been rejected and their country of origin seen as safe. Although Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are currently seen as safe countries, deportations to those states have been difficult to carry out.

In all some 800 people are awaiting deportation in Finland. Räsänen says that the loophole should be closed to ensure it does not attract additional asylum seekers.

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