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Statistics on immigration 2020: Most immigrants come to Finland to work, the coronavirus affected the number of applications

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The number of residence permit applications submitted abroad decreased last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the number of persons moving to Finland decreased less.

In 2020, a total of 21,160 applications for a first residence permit were submitted (2019: 31,510). The decrease applies to residence permit applications submitted on the basis of work (2020: 8,771, 2019: 12,687), family ties (2020: 8,369, 2019: 11,753) as well as studies (2020: 3,299, 2019: 6,493).

In 2020, a total of 20,757 first residence permits in Finland were granted (2019: 25,412). The number of decisions did not decrease as much as the number of applications.

Work, family and studies are the most common reasons for moving to Finland. This was the case also in 2019. Last year, a total of 8,508 first residence permits were granted on the basis of work (2019: 9,461). Including employees coming to Finland to work with a certificate for seasonal work, a total of 20,117 permits were granted on the basis of work (2019: 19,380). A total of 8,592 residence permits were granted on the basis of family ties (2019: 10 251) and 3,225 on the basis of studies (2019: 5,246).

Registrations of EU citizens’ right of residence decreased slightly. In 2020, a total of 8,982 applications for registration of an E*U citizen’s right of residence were submitted (2019: 10,051). EU citizens received 7,629 positive decisions (2019: 8,533). EU citizens move to Finland particularly to work (2020: 3,468 positive decisions, 2019: 3,865).

The number of applications for an extended residence permit submitted in Finland continued to increase despite of the coronavirus. Last year, a total of 30,161 applications for an extended permit were submitted (2019: 27,988), and a total of 27,750 extended permits were granted (2019: 25,831). The most common grounds for applying for an extended permit was family ties (2020: 13,084, 2019: 11,112). Family ties were also the most common grounds for granting an extended permit (2020: 12,346, 2019: 10,217).

The most common reason for moving to Finland is work

For the second year in a row, work continued to be the most common reason for applying for a residence permit in Finland. In 2020, a total of 8,771 applications for a first residence permit on the basis of work were submitted (2019: 12,687).

– We expect work-related immigration to increase in the future, and therefore it is important that the processing of residence permits is seamless, says Jari Kähkönen, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Slightly less than half of first residence permit applications submitted on the basis of work concerned a residence permit for an employed person, which requires an Economic Development Office (TE Office) to perform labour market testing before the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service (2020: 4,460, 2019: 6,270). The number of applications for residence permits for specialists decreased by half from the previous year (2020: 853, 2019: 1,791).

- One of our goals for this year is to achieve a processing time of two weeks for permits for specialists, start-up entrepreneurs and their family members during the year 2021. Last year, the median processing time for first permits for specialists was 14 days, which is a promising start, but there is still work to be done, says Kähkönen.

When the number of certificates for seasonal work is included in the residence permit applications, a total of 21,689 first applications on the basis of work were submitted last year (2019: 22,811).

The number of seasonal workers continued to increase

The number of seasonal workers continued to increase. A total of 1,694 first residence permit applications for seasonal work was submitted (2019: 2,051, 2018: 1,095) and a total of 1,692 first residence permits were granted (2019: 1,577, 2018: 883).

In addition to residence permits, a total of 12,918 applications for a certificate for seasonal work intended for seasonal work lasting less than three months were submitted (2019: 10,124, 2018: 6,899) and a total of 11,609 certificates were granted (2019: 9,919, 2018: 6,855).

Brexit brought a new permit category for British citizens

As of 1 October 2020, British citizens and their family members have been able to apply for a right of residence under the withdrawal agreement. Last year, British citizens and their family members submitted a total of 1,737 applications for a right of residence under the withdrawal agreement.

British citizens and their family members can apply for a right of residence under the withdrawal agreement until 30 September 2021, if they have registered their right of residence as an EU citizen or a family member of an EU citizen. This year, British citizens moving to Finland need a residence permit.

Iraqis submitted the largest number of citizenship applications

Last year, Iraqi citizens submitted the largest number of citizenship applications in Finland. For years, the largest group applying for Finnish citizenship has been Russian citizens.

– Especially asylum seekers who arrived to Finland in the autumn of 2015 and have been granted international protection are now applying for Finnish citizenship. A person who has been granted international protection must live in Finland for four years before he or she can be granted Finnish citizenship, says Pauliina Helminen, Head of Branch at the Permit and Nationality Unit.

In 2020, Iraqis submitted 1,881 citizenship applications (2019: 1,588, 2018: 972).

Last year, a total of 8,744 persons were granted Finnish citizenship (2019: 10,062). A total of 11,491 persons were granted a permanent residence permit (2019: 10,132).

The number of new asylum seekers remained small

In 2020, the number of asylum applications was small. Last year, a total of 3,209 asylum applications were submitted (2019: 4,550, 2018: 4,548, 2017: 5,047, 2016: 5,647, 2015: 32,477, 2014: 3,649).

A total of 1,275 first asylum applications were submitted. The number of new asylum seekers was smaller than before the year 2015 (2019: 2,467, 2018: 2,409, 2017: 3,202, 2016: 4,813, 2015: 31,959, 2014: 3,287).

- Due to relocations from the Mediterranean, the most common country of origin in first asylum applications became Afghanistan (148 asylum seekers), says Antti Lehtinen, Director of the Asylum Unit.

The majority of asylum applications is subsequent applications (2020: 1,934, 2019: 2,083, 2018: 2,139, 2017: 1,845, 2016: 834, 2015: 518, 2014: 362). A subsequent application is an asylum application that a client makes after receiving a final decision from the Finnish Immigration Service or an administrative court on an earlier asylum application. The largest number of subsequent applications were submitted by Iraqis.

More yearly statistics on the website migri.fi

You can find the confirmed statistics for 2020 in our statistical service at statistics.migri.fi. In the statistical service you will now also find statistics on travel documents as well as on different kinds of certificates and declarations. The statistic for 2015 and backwards can be found in PDF format at the address migri.fi/statistics.

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Contacts

Statistics on immigration and nationality: Pauliina Helminen, Head of Branch at the Permit and Nationality Unit, tel. +358 295 433 059, e-mail: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Asylum statistics: Antti Lehtinen, Director of Asylum Unit, tel. +358 295 433 135, email: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Other inquiries concerning statistics: Press and Communications Services, Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 433 037, e-mail: media@migri.fi

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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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