Iraq will send a delegation of officials to Finland to grant passports to Iraqi asylum seekers in order to enable them to seek legal employment and apply for an employment-based residence permit in Finland, YLE and Helsingin Sanomat reported on Thursday.
“We’re talking about hundreds of Iraqis, up to 500 people,” Kai Mykkänen (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, told YLE.
Mykkänen explained that the eyebrow-raising undertaking is a means to alleviate the labour shortage in Finland.
He revealed that he has supported the project to provide some of the asylum seekers in legal employment with the opportunity to apply for an employment-based residence permit without having to return temporarily to Iraq. With a passport and residence permit, such people would be able to legalise their residence in Finland.
“I think it’s a positive thing that people who are active and have found a job in Finland are able to do so,” he commented to Helsingin Sanomat.
The Embassy of Iraq in Helsinki does not grant passports.
The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) yesterday rebutted reports that it is co-ordinating the project or participating in the passport application process.
“Contrary to what reports suggest, this is not being co-ordinated by Migri. Finnish authorities are not involved in the process and the passport application is purely an issue between the applicant and Iraqi officials. We have forwarded information about the possibility to reception centres and, thereby, to our customers,” a Migri spokesperson stated on Twitter.
The undertaking has raised eyebrows and concerns about the asylum procedure in Finland.
Muhis Azizi (NCP), a councillor for the City of Turku, questioned the merits of allowing the delegation into the country by arguing that the arrival could drive more unsuccessful asylum seekers underground.
“Iraqis have fled their home country to flee unrest and live here in secrecy, underground, after a number of negative [asylum] decisions. They think it is better to live here than in their home country. But suddenly the people who have caused the unrest […] come to them in Finland, offering them passports of their home country,” he wrote in his blog on Puheenvuoro.
Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, voiced his puzzlement about the apparent friction between the passport delegation and the obstacles to enforcing forced removals.
“We have been unable to return unsuccessful asylum seekers to Iraq due to, for example, them not having a passport. Now Iraq will start distributing passports to Iraqis in Finland, but not to enable them to return to their home country but to enable them to apply for ‘employment-based residence permits’ in Finland,” he said.
“All logic indicates that these are asylum seekers who have received a negative decision. Successful asylum seekers, after all, have the right to work. Is this what the government considers employment-based immigration?” asked Halla-aho.
Mykkänen assured later that the delegation will not offer a new channel to “the wrong people” to receive a residence permit during its few-week stay in Finland.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi