Work-based immigration up in Finland, asylum applications down

Finland's asylum system is still backed up with applications from previous years, says the interior ministry.

Finland's foreign-born workforce is growing. Image: Annika Martikainen / Yle

The Ministry of the Interior reported on Wednesday that Finland granted more work-based residence permits in 2018 than the year before.

The ministry's Migration Review (siirryt toiseen palveluun) shows that nearly 7,700 people were granted residence in 2018 while in the previous year some 6,750 people were accepted.

The data presents a steadily growing trend; in 2013 less than 5,000 work-based residence permits were issued.

The ministry emphasised that in the previous government term, "several legislative amendments were introduced to make it easier for entrepreneurs and experts to move to Finland" to promote economic growth and employment.

"The basic premise is that, in addition to the domestic workforce, Finland also needs employees from abroad. There is intense competition in the world for international talent," said Jorma Vuorio, director general of the Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior.

The overall number of work-based residence applications received by the Interior Ministry grew to some 10,800 last year, a growth of more than 2,000 applications.

Asylum system still backlogged

The ministry report indicates that while work immigration is on the rise, the number of asylum applications saw a "major decline" last year.

First-time asylum applications numbered some 2,400 in 2018, about 800 fewer than the previous year. There were more than 2,100 renewed or repeat applications.

The Interior Ministry said that Finland's asylum system is still "overburdened" by some 10,700 unresolved applications, but that handling times for the applications at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) continued to shrink.

More than 41,000 applicants were granted their first Finnish residence permits last year. The figure includes family reunification cases, registering EU citizens, study permits and quota refugees. Just over 9,600 people received Finnish citizenship in 2018.