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New rule makes switching professions easier for migrant workers

The law change also allows officials to confiscate asylum seekers' travel documents.

Maalari rakennustyömaalla.
Asylum seekers are allowed to work in Finland, under certain circumstances. Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle

Migrant employees who have worked in Finland for at least one year will no longer be subject to restrictive availability considerations before starting in a new job, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development.

Essentially, employees with a worker's residence permit can now switch professions more easily than before due to an amendment to the Aliens Act that takes effect on 1 June.

An availability assessment (saatavuusharkinta) is an evaluation used by employment offices to determine whether there are already domestic workers available for a job before granting a foreign employee their (work-based) residence permit.

In other words, if a foreign worker now comes to Finland on a work permit for a specific job, they will no longer need an availability assessment in order to renew the work permit to switch professions or jobs.

The ministry said in April that waiving the assessment phase is meant to improve opportunities for professional mobility among immigrant employees already in the Finnish job market. Some dozens of people applying for residence permits will be affected by the amendment yearly, according to the ministry.

Justification, confiscation

According to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) three other changes were made to the Aliens Act, affecting renewed applications, the right to work and travel document confiscation.

The first of the three further changes means that any asylum seeker who reapplies for asylum with new reasoning must indicate why they did not present those reasons previously.

The second change means that, from 1 June, an asylum seeker's right to work ends the moment that they may be legally deported. If a migrant has received a negative asylum decision (or has submitted a pending reapplication based on an enforceable negative decision) he/she does not have the right to work.

However, if an asylum seeker is granted asylum they may continue to work in Finland, in most cases. An asylum seeker may also work without a permit if he/she has been in Finland three or six months after filing an asylum application.

The third further change means that starting 1 June officials are authorised to confiscate an asylum seeker's passport or other travel documents and hold them until he/she is granted a residence permit or leaves the country.

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