Most of Finland's illegal immigrants were previously denied asylum by Migri/Lehtikuva

News in brief

The Ministry of the Interior has proposed a new action plan for 2021–2024, which aims to tackle the issue of illegal entry and undocumented immigrants in Finland. The measures outlined in the plan, which was presented today, include easing restrictions on acquiring a residence permit for undocumented asylum seekers.

Illegal entry is relatively uncommon in Finland, and determining the exact number of people living in the country without required legal documents has proved problematic. According to estimates, there were slightly over 1,200 people (from non-EU countries) living in Finland illegally in 2019.

As per the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, there are approximately 700–1,100 undocumented immigrants in the country as of last Summer. 

The majority of Finland’s illegal residents belong to vulnerable populations and are asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). These groups are reportedly at high risk for economic or sexual exploitation, with many turning to crime or becoming victims of human trafficking. 

According to the Ministry, several foreigners attempted to bypass coronavirus restrictions by entering the country using falsified work permits and documents last year. 

If the new programme is approved, undocumented asylum seekers who have stayed in Finland after receiving a negative decision from Migri will be allowed to remain in the country if they are already employed. 

In this case, they would acquire a special travel document that would enable them to visit their own country and return to Finland until they receive the official residence permit. 

It is unclear when these changes will take effect, as the matter is still under review and would necessitate changes in legislation. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is also currently seeking solutions to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour.


Tahira Sequeira

Helsinki Times