The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) decided to deport almost 2,000 foreign nationals from Finland in 2019, reports YLE. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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THE NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS deported from Finland increased sharply in 2019, reports YLE.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) decided to deport almost 2,000 foreign nationals residing in the country with a residence permit, representing a surge of almost 80 per cent from the previous year.

Although the number of deportations has crept up as a consequence of the number of foreigners in the country increasing, the 80-per cent jump is striking: the number of deportations stood at 905 in 2017, 1,092 in 2018 and 1,963 in 2019.

YLE on Tuesday pointed out that one, perhaps surprising, reason for the surge is a sharp increase in the deportations of Uzbeks. Migri deported a total of 311 Uzbeks in 2019, the majority of whom worked in construction after securing a residence permit in the country with the help of fake qualifications.

The public broadcasting company wrote about the group of workers last summer, revealing that authorities had failed to realise that the qualifications had been granted by a non-existent vocational school in the Soviet Union.

Another reason for the increase in deportations is that foreign nationals have been under closer monitoring in Finland since 2017. This has allowed authorities to identify people who had received a residence permit on ground of marriage but who had divorced, left the country or lived in a marriage of convenience.

“We get some tips form neighbours for instance when it comes to marriages of convenience,” Olli Koskipirtti, head of section at Migri, told YLE.

Lawyer Ville Punto said Finland has clearly adjusted its position on extended residence permits after their processing was transferred from law enforcement authorities to Migri in 2017. The adjustment is noticeable in, for example, how closely the earnings of residence permit holders are monitored.

“It was enough for the police that the person wasn’t reliant on social security,” he told.

Punto revealed that he currently has clients who may face deportation simply because they have received the unemployment allowance for an extended period of time, even though at least one of their family members is employed or self-employed. A number of such cases are currently pending in administrative courts.

“There are families with children who were born or started basic education in Finland. They’re fully integrated and speak Finnish, but it’s deemed based on income that they should leave the country.”

Migri, in turn, reminded that determining the income level is part of the extended residence permit process, adding that the business income of a sole proprietor may not suffice to guarantee the livelihood of an entire family, especially a large one.

YLE also reported that the number of deportations based on criminal convictions rose markedly last year, by roughly a third to 234. The proposal for deporting a foreigner who has committed a crime is typically made by the police and the decision by Migri. The former, however, examines only the offence in question, whereas the latter takes into account the broader situation of the permit holder.

“We also consider factors that speak for the client staying here, such as how long they’ve been here, do they have family ties, are they studying, are they employed, how young did they arrive here and what’s the situation in their home country,” listed Koskipirtti.

Around a half of proposals to deport a person on grounds of a criminal conviction have been granted in the past two years.

“For years we’ve stressed that police have a low threshold for making deportation proposals. That way we can prevent recidivism,” commented Mia Poutanen, a chief superintendent at the National Police Board.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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