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Minister Pledges Rapid Changes to Immigration Laws

The government is worried about a labour shortage -- and Finland's first Migration Minister wants quick legislative changes to make the country more welcoming to foreigners. She says that the Aliens' Act will be updated in bits and pieces, as a complete overhaul would take too long.

Finland badly needs more workers like Yusuf Kart, a Kurdish immigrant who runs a restaurant at Helsinki's Caisa international cultural centre. He has lived in Finland for 10 years, but says he still does not really feel at home. Kart applied for Finnish citizenship two years ago, but has not gotten any response from the authorities.

"You don't feel welcome, that's the problem. And why not? I'm working, I have my business here and my family here," he says.

The government now plans to revise many parts of the Aliens' Act in an effort to make Finland more attractive to immigrants and simplify bureaucracy.

No Time to Waste Minister of Migration Astrid Thors says parts of the law must be changed to speed up immigration. However it will be done piecemeal, as a rewrite of the whole act would take years -- time that Finland simply cannot afford to waste. First of all, immigration-related issues are now being centralised under one new ministry, to be led by Thors. Kart is too busy to spend much time thinking about administrative overhauls. He just wants to be treated equally by the authorities. "If they treat me differently than you, it gives me a bad feeling, as if I'm a second-class or third-class citizen. It doesn't feel nice," he says. YLE