Queue for services at the Finnish Immigration Service Migri's Malmi office in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA

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In a year marked by geopolitical strife and economic uncertainties, Finland's immigration landscape in 2023 bore the imprint of international conflicts and economic dynamics. The nation continued to be a refuge for those fleeing Russia's war against Ukraine, alongside experiencing a surge in applications for residence permits from students and their family members. Despite a global economic downturn, Finland's labor market remained a strong pull factor, with immigration levels hitting record highs.

Ilkka Haahtela, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service, highlighted the resilience of labor migration to Finland, noting, "Even though the economic downturn has affected labour migration to Finland, the numbers are still on a record-high level." This trend underscores Finland's attractive labor market and the critical role of immigration in addressing the country's workforce needs.

The war in Ukraine has led to a significant, although reduced, influx of Ukrainians seeking temporary protection in Finland. The Finnish Immigration Service granted temporary protection to nearly 19,000 individuals in 2023, down from over 45,000 the previous year. This shift reflects a gradual decrease in applications as the conflict persists, yet the Finnish government has extended the validity of temporary protection residence permits until March 2025, signaling ongoing support for Ukrainians affected by the conflict.

Labour migration remains robust, with Filipinos, Russians, Indians, and Chinese leading the applications for work-based residence permits. The healthcare and social work sectors, in particular, saw a record number of positive decisions, highlighting the critical demand for international talent in these fields.

The academic sector also witnessed a surge in interest, with a notable increase in residence permit applications for studies, particularly from Asian countries. The Finnish Immigration Service anticipates this trend to continue, reflecting Finland's growing appeal as a destination for international education.

Family-based immigration applications reached a new high, largely driven by the dynamics of work and study-based migration. This pattern underscores the interconnected nature of different migration pathways and their collective impact on Finland's demographic landscape.

EU citizens and their registration applications remained significant, with the majority citing employment as the primary reason for moving to Finland. This trend emphasizes the cross-border mobility within the EU and the role of the Finnish labor market in attracting European talent.

The year also saw a remarkable uptick in applications for Finnish citizenship, with over 13,000 individuals becoming new Finnish citizens. The increase in citizenship applications, particularly from Russia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, reflects the diverse backgrounds of those seeking a permanent home in Finland.

In summary, Finland's immigration figures for 2023 illustrate the country's role as a stable and welcoming destination amidst global challenges. The Finnish Immigration Service's adaptability in extending support to those affected by the war in Ukraine, coupled with the sustained interest in Finland's labor and education sectors, highlights the nation's ongoing commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the face of evolving international dynamics.

HT

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