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Parliament to debate automatic residency for longtime asylum seekers

Signatories say granting residency to people stuck in lengthy application processes would solve many problems at once.

File photo of an asylum seeker in Helsinki. Image: Helsingin Diakonissalaitos

A citizens' initiative demanding permanent residence permits for longtime asylum seekers is heading for parliamentary debate. Signatories want Finland to grant four-year residence permits to people whose asylum applications were denied before 2017.

The initiative surpassed the required 50,000 signatures on Friday evening and will move to Parliament to be debated by MPs.

The initiative wants Finland to enact legislation granting continuous four-year residence permits for people who applied for asylum in Finland before 2017 but have not received permanent residency status.

The initiative's backers said granting permanent residency to, for example, paperless individuals would efficiently solve acute human rights issues in Finland, including lengthy asylum processes and problems faced by undocumented migrants.

At the moment Finland is streamlining its work permit process as immigration authority Migri has estimated that up to 80,000 Ukrainian citizens may arrive in Finland this year. In 2016 Migri rejected nearly half of asylum applications filed in 2015 as Middle Eastern migrants fled to Europe.