Maahanmuuttovirasto

Labour migration numbers to Finland still high despite the economic downturn

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According to recent statistics on work-based immigration, the number of applications has dropped slightly compared to last year but labour migration figures are still on a high level compared to past years. The number of applications from students and family members continues to rise. This year, citizenship applications will reach record-high numbers. These are some of the key figures presented in the second edition of the Finnish Immigration Service’s report on immigration to Finland (Maahanmuutto Suomeen -katsaus).

Record number of residence permits for employed persons granted to professionals in health care and social services

By the end of October 2023, Finland received a total of 14,710 applications for a first residence permit on the basis of work. The number of applications submitted this year will be lower than last year. Last year, foreign nationals submitted more than 20,000 applications for a first residence permit on the basis of work, which was a record-high number. Even though the number of applications has dropped from last year, it still continues to be higher than in 2018–2021.

The factors behind the drop in the number of applications compared to last year are several. The economic decline is reflected especially in the number of residence permits for employed persons. These permits amount to 55% of all work-based residence permit applications. At the same time, the number of applications from Russian citizens, which was on the rise as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have now dropped to the levels of preceding years.

“The economic slowdown and the rising interest levels are reflected especially in sectors that are susceptible to economic fluctuations, such as construction business. However, the number of residence permits for employed persons granted to professionals in health care and social services is record high. This is a sign of labour shortage in the sector. For the most part, labour migration to Finland is concentrated in the large cities of Southern Finland,” says Johannes Hirvelä, Director of Development, from the Finnish Immigration Service.

Students and family members moving to Finland at a continually increasing rate

The legislative amendments of 2022 to students’ residence permits have enhanced Finland’s attractiveness among international students. In 2023, this trend has continued and the number of applications submitted this year will be historically high. By the end of October, the number of applications for a first permit was 11,401.

“Especially students from Asian countries have applied for residence permits for studies. Nearly 70% of this year’s applications have been submitted by citizens of Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka,” says Hirvelä.

The increase in work-related and study-related immigration of recent years will also be reflected in the number of applications made on the basis of family ties. The number of first applications submitted on the basis of family ties by October was 18,253. Most of the applicants are children or spouses of people who have moved to Finland for work or studies. Last year, the number of first applications submitted on the basis of family ties was 18,981.

New record in citizenship applications

The number of incoming citizenship applications has been increasing since June 2023. The changes proposed in the Government Programme to the requirements for obtaining Finnish citizenship have prompted many to apply for citizenship before any of the proposed changes enter into force.

During the first ten months of the year, a total of 14,853 persons have applied for Finnish citizenship. The number of citizenship applications is the highest ever recorded. It is already at this point higher than in the previous record year, 2021. The total number of citizenship applications submitted in 2021 was 14,366.

Low numbers of applications for international protection before the increase at the eastern border

In Finland, the number of applications for international protection have been low. By October, Finland received a total of 2,872 first asylum applications. Most asylum seekers were citizens of Somalia, Russia, Afghanistan, Türkiye or Iran. The period covered by the report ends in October, which means that the reported figures do not include the people who applied for asylum at Finland’s eastern border in November.

In the European Union, the number of asylum applications is currently the highest since 2015–2016. The number of applications will likely exceed one million this year. In addition to asylum seekers, the reception capacity of the EU Member States is affected by refugees fleeing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because of the war in Ukraine, over 4 million people have applied for temporary protection in the European Union area.
 
“The number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and applying for temporary protection in Finland increased briefly this summer, but has since then been decreasing. By the end of October, a total of 17,807 applications for temporary protection have been submitted this year,” says Hirvelä.

The Finnish Immigration Service published its first ‘Immigration to Finland’ report in June. The purpose of the report series is to increase awareness of immigration to Finland and of the contributing factors behind it, as well as to serve data users who are interested in immigration as a phenomenon.

For more information about the topic, see the most recent ‘Immigration to Finland’ report Maahanmuutto Suomeen 2/23 (in Finnish). 

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Johannes Hirvelä, Director of Development, tel. 0295 434 083, email: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

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Finnish Immigration Service

The Finnish Immigration Service is a decision-making organisation in matters related to immigration, asylum, refugee status and citizenship and maintains the reception system.

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