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Migri: Fewer residence, asylum applications due to corona

Work remained the number one reason for moving to Finland in 2020.

Maahanmuuttovirasto / Migri / Ratapihantie 11 / Pasila / Helsinki 13.04.2020
The Finnish Immigration Service received 3,200 asylum applications last year, down from over 4,500 in 2019. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a significant drop in the number of people applying for residence permits as well as seeking asylum in Finland, according to a press release from the Finnish Immigration Service, Migri.

Last year, the office received about 21,000 applications for so-called first residence permits - down from over 31,000 in 2019.

Work, family ties and studies remain the most common reasons for moving to Finland, but all three saw declines in the number of residence permit applications.

For the second year in a row, work was the number one reason for moving to Finland, with 8,771, applications received. However, this was down almost a quarter from the 2019 figure of 12,687.

"We expect work-related immigration to increase in the future, and therefore it is important that the processing of residence permits is seamless," Migri CEO Jari Kähkönen said in the press release.

The office came under scrutiny last year as reports revealed applicants had to wait an average of 152 days for work-based residence permits despite Finland highlighting the need for work-based immigration.

Of the 21,160 residence permit applications received last year, 20,757 were granted.

Migri also revealed that Iraqi citizens submitted the largest number of citizenship applications in 2020.

"Asylum seekers who arrived in Finland in the autumn of 2015 and have been granted international protection are now applying for Finnish citizenship," Head of Branch at the Permit and Nationality Unit Pauliina Helminen said. "A person who has been granted international protection must live in Finland for four years before he or she can be granted Finnish citizenship."

In previous years, Russian citizens have submitted the most amount of citizenship applications.

Asylum applications down by a third

The release further stated that applications for asylum in 2020 decreased from the previous year. Last year, Migri received a total of 3,209 asylum applications, down from over 4,500 in 2019.

Most were renewed applications - the majority of which were submitted by Iraqi citizens.

"Due to relocations from the Mediterranean, the most common country of origin in first asylum applications became Afghanistan," Director of the Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen said.

In total, 8,744 people were granted Finnish citizenship in 2020, down from 10,062 the previous year, while some 11,491 people were granted a permanent residence permit.

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