More first-time residence permit applicants cited employment — rather than family ties — as the chief reason to move to Finland last year, according to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).
A total of 12,687 work-based residence permit applications were submitted in 2019. The number of applications based on family ties was 11,753 during the same period. In 2018, the corresponding numbers were 10,805 and 11,036 respectively.
Migri stated that almost half of the applications concerned employee’s residence permits, which would be granted after due consideration by local employment offices. The number of applications also increased in other work-related permit types, such as permits for special experts.
Migri said the growth in these numbers can be attributed to the new permit types for seasonal work introduced in 2018.
In November 2019, Finland's Ministry of the Interior confirmed that work-based immigration applications have increased in popularity since 2017.
Overall, a total of 71,317 individuals applied for a Finnish residence permit in 2019, an increase of 4,936 from 2018.
Fewer asylum seekers
The number of applications by asylum seekers is on the decline. A total of 4,550 asylum applications were submitted last year, of which 2,467 were from new asylum seekers and 2,083 were re-applications. A re-application can be submitted by an asylum seeker after having received a legal decision for at least one of their applications.
Migri stated that most of the new asylum seekers last year arrived from Turkey and Russia.
"Iraqis still show as the largest application group statistically, though the number of new asylum seekers from Iraq is now relatively small," said Director of Migri’s asylum unit Antti Lehtinen.
Statistics show that before 2015, more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland.
Iraqi asylum seekers applying for citizenship
While Russians continue to top the list of applications by nationality, the number of citizenship applications submitted by Iraqis is increasing, according to Migri statistics.
"A total of 1,588 Iraqi nationals applied for Finnish citizenship in 2019, compared to 972 in 2018," Heikki Taskinen, director of Migri’s nationality unit said.
According to Migri, this is because Iraqi asylum seekers who arrived in Finland in autumn 2015 and received international protection can now apply for Finnish citizenship or a permanent residence permit. The residence period obligation in both cases is four years.
In 2019, a total of 10,062 individuals gained the right to carry a Finnish passport. The corresponding number was 9,610 in 2018. The number of people who applied for a permanent residence permit in 2019 was 11,699 — or 3,106 more than in 2018.