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Finland moves to cap "infinite renewal" asylum applications

The Finnish Immigration Service wants to prevent asylum seekers from endlessly looping their applications. If turned down, applicants can infinitely reapply.

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Many refugees are stuck in limbo waiting for an asylum decision. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Around half of all asylum applications under review by The Finnish Immigration Service are renewals. The law currently allows asylum seekers to reapply an infinite number of times, but this may soon change as the Ministry of the Interior may amend the Aliens Act to limit the number of repeat applications an applicant can put in for international protection.

The ministry has said that it has launched a project to draft potential legislative amendments to address the situation. The Interior Ministry also noted that immigration authority statistics show strong growth in the number of renewed asylum applications in 2017 as well as in the early part of 2018. It added that its aim is to see the amendments adopted during the current government's term in office.

Renewed applications delay deportation

Most of the residents at the Kokemäki reception centre in southwestern Finland fall into the camp of people renewing their asylum applications. They have called the place home for the past three years and many have automatically reapplied for asylum to delay deportation following a negative decision. At the moment, Finland's 43 reception centres are at 90 percent capacity.

"This year people have tired of waiting for their decisions. On the other hand, they have gotten to know each other and there's a real community feel," says Anne Lehtonen-Vinqvist, who runs the Kokemäki centre.

In 2015 the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Finland totalled 32,00, but the number of newcomers has since fallen dramatically.

"A relatively small group of people are arriving in Finland this year, comparable to 2017," says Pekka Nuutinen, director of the Reception Unit at The Finnish Immigration Service, adding that "in 2016 we had 30,00 beds and now we have 8,000."

"We expect some 2,500 new applications this year and another 2,000 renewals," he told Yle.

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