A customer entering a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) in Helsinki in October 2019. Migri last year recorded increases in the number of residence permits granted based on work, study and family ties. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


A RECORD-BREAKING 49,998 people immigrated to Finland in 2022, according to Statistics Finland.

The total represents an increase of 14,000–21,000 from previous years, an increase that may be partly attributable to the scrapping of entry restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, Johannes Hirvelä, the director of development at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), stated to STT on Wednesday.

Scrapping the restrictions, he explained, allowed for the release of pent-up demand.

“There were increases across permit types. There was an increase in work-based permits, there were more students and also family members arrived in higher numbers. The only type without growth was asylum seekers,” he revealed to the news agency.

While the number of immigrants is not expected to be as high this year, the long-term trend is clearly pointing upward.

Immigration to Finland has been growing throughout the 2000s, reminded Hirvelä. Although the outcome of the ongoing coalition formation negotiations will be reflected in the number of residence permits granted, the demand and application numbers will surely continue growing.

Russia was the largest source country of immigration, with the number of immigrants jumping to the 30-year high of roughly 6,000. Such immigration levels have not been witnessed since some 5,500 people moved from the Soviet Union to Finland in 1991, the last year of existence for the Soviet Union.

The next largest source countries of immigration were Sweden (2,600), India (2,400), Estonia (2,400) and the Philippines (2,250).

Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion are not incorporated in the statistics, as they are granted residence on grounds of temporary protection. According to Migri, over 47,000 Ukrainians applied for temporary protection in Finland in 2022.

STT on Wednesday reported that Finland attracts immigrants particularly due to study and work opportunities. From the Philippines, for example, many immigrated to work as domestic helpers or practical nurses.

“The labour shortage has resulted in the development of international recruitment networks in Finland,” said Hirvelä.

Studying in Finland is appealing to foreigners due to the relatively low tuition fees. Hirvelä, though, pointed out that there may not be more potential for growth due to the limited student capacity of programmes taught in English.

Internal migration contributed to the population growth of six regions in Finland in 2022, according to Statistics Finland.

Pirkanmaa, the region surrounding Tampere, made the largest gains from internal migration in more than 70 years, increasing its population by 3,800. The next biggest beneficiaries of internal migration flows were Uusimaa and Southwest Finland, which each registered gains of around 1,000.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT