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Interior Ministry: Fewer asylum seekers, more work-based immigration

Fewer people have sought asylum in Finland in the last couple of years than earlier in the decade.

Betonielementin raudoittamista.
More than half of immigrants apply for residence permits based on manual work. Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Finland's Ministry of the Interior said in a release on Thursday that work-based immigration applications have increased in popularity since 2017.

Last year about 10,800 people filed applications with the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), about 2,000 more than one year previously.

More than half of the applications (53 percent) were for immigration based on manual work. These were followed by applications based on expert know-how or specialisation (14 percent). Fifty-six percent of these applicants were Indian nationals.

Even though reception centres are still dealing with the spike in asylum seekers in 2015, the Interior Ministry also said that fewer people sought asylum in Finland in 2018-19 than at any other time this decade.

"In all, 4,548 asylum applications were submitted in Finland in 2018. Almost one half of these (2,139) were subsequent applications submitted by asylum seekers already in the reception system," the release details.

Family ties, social impact

Family ties were the number one reason for immigration in 2018. Migri granted residence permits to some 9,000 people, around the same as a year previously. Russian citizens have traditionally been the largest nationality to be granted residency based on family.

The ministry report noted that immigration is key to population growth in times of record-low birth rates. Certain industries are experiencing worker shortages, and an ageing population could exacerbate such deficiencies. Work-based immigration is a valid countermeasure, the report said.

The ministry said it intends to redouble efforts to ensure that immigrants with residence permits based on family ties or international protection could find their way into working life faster.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will also support the measures with an employment programme called Integration SIB (Social Impact Bond) and by developing so-called "centres of competence" to help immigrants find work and other aid.

Several ministries collaborated on the immigration report together with Migri, Statistics Finland and the National Police Board. The study also serves as Finland's migration report for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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