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Statistics for 2017: Clearly less asylum seekers than the year before – over 2,100 asylum seekers submitted their first application

30.1.2018 12.10
Press release

In 2017, a total of 5,059 persons applied for asylum in Finland (2016: 5 657). Of them 2,139 applied for asylum for the first time, 1,858 submitted a subsequent application and the applications of 1,062 asylum seekers were transferred under the EU relocation scheme from Greece or Italy to Finland.

The number of first asylum applications decreased clearly compared to the previous year: 4,005 first applications were submitted in 2016.

When subsequent applications and transfers under the relocation scheme are excluded from the total number of asylum applications, the number of asylum applications in 2017 is clearly less than in the years before the increase of asylum seekers in the autumn of 2015. Before 2015, the number of asylum seekers was relatively stable at 3,000 to 4,000 asylum seekers yearly.

Converting to Christianity – the most common new ground at the appeal stage

In 2017, about 40 per cent of the asylum seekers who received a decision were given a positive asylum decision, that is were granted asylum, subsidiary protection or a residence permit on another ground (2016: 27 per cent). The share of negative decision was about 42 per cent (2016: 51 per cent). The numbers include decisions on both first and subsequent applications.

The relative increase in the number of positive decisions is due to, among other things, the asylum seekers having presented more new grounds for their applications at the appeal stage than before. The most common new ground was converting to Christianity. You can be granted asylum on the basis of converting to Christianity if you are in risk of persecution because of your religion when returning to your home country.

The decisions for asylum seekers arriving through Greece or Italy under the EU relocation scheme affect the distribution of decisions: nationalities of which at least 75 per cent have been granted international protection in the EU Member States were chosen for the EU relocation scheme. In other words, the majority of these asylum seekers have received a positive decision.

In 2016, the agency increased the number of its employees and was by that means able to clear the backlog from the great number of application in 2015. First, the simpler applications were processed. At the same time, many of the applications, which required close investigation and more attention, were transferred to be decided in 2017. Many of these applications which required more attention were given a positive decision which affects the relative increase in the number of positive decisions.

Administrative Courts returned more than 2,420 decisions to the Finnish Immigration Service

According to the statistics of the Finnish Immigration Service, the Administrative Courts have processed over 7,540 appeals against negative asylum decisions in 2017.

For different reasons, 2,423 (32 per cent) of these cases were returned to the Finnish Immigration Service for processing.

The majority of these (17 per cent, 1,313 decisions in total) were decisions to which the asylum seeker had presented new documentation. The most common new ground presented at the appeal stage in these cases was converting to Christianity.

Of the decisions, 4 per cent (310 decisions) were overturned by the Administrative Court due to errors in the interpretation of the law and procedure errors made by the Finnish Immigration Service. This is within the limit set by the Ministry of the Interior, according to which errors may only occur in up to 5 per cent of the decisions.

At the moment, a total of 7,589 asylum decisions made by the Finnish Immigration Service are being or waiting to be processed by the Administrative Courts. A total of 2,186 decisions that have been returned from the Administrative Courts are waiting to be processed by the Finnish Immigration Service.

Marked increase in the number of applications by family members of persons who were granted international protection

In 2017, a total of 10 per cent more residence permit applications on the basis of family ties were submitted than in 2016.

The greatest increase could be seen in the number of applications by family members of persons who were granted international protection in Finland: 58 per cent more applications were submitted than the previous year.

The number of applications by Iraqis increased with a third (2017: 1,105; 2016: 768) and the Iraqis are now clearly the largest group applying for a residence permit on the basis of family ties (more extensive information in our bulletin).

The applications for residence permits on the basis of family ties submitted by Russians decreased by more than a quarter. However, the Russians are still the second largest applicant group.

The number of application on the basis of work increased by a total of 16 per cent. The number of applications by researchers increased the most (29 per cent). An increase in the number of residence permits for specialist (23 per cent) and for an employed person (19 per cent) can also be seen.

The number of applications for residence permits for studies decreased by 21 per cent (2017: 5,647; 2016: 7,161). The main reason for the decreasing number of applications is the introduction of tuition fees to higher education students from outside the EU and ETA area. This change applies to students who began their studies on 1 August 2017 or later. (More extensive information in our bulletin).

Now also extended permits, permanent permits and EU-registrations are included in the total number of residence permit decisions and applications. At the beginning of 2017, matters concerning extended residence permits and residence of an EU citizen were transferred from the police to the Finnish Immigration Service.

About 8,400 EU citizens submitted a registration application (2016: 10,000). More applications for extended permits were submitted than the previous year (2017: almost 30,000; 2016: more than 27,000). The number of applications for permanent residence permits stayed near the level of 2016.

A total of 12,600 persons became Finnish citizens

In 2017, a total of 12,600 persons were granted Finnish citizenship (2016: 9,644).

Russian citizens are still the largest group of applicants, even though a slight decrease in the number applications by Russians can be seen.

In the summer of 2016, a referendum was held in Great Britain and over 50 per cent voted for leaving the EU. This may have had an effect on the number of citizenship applications by Britons: when including citizenship declarations, a total of 201 British citizens applied for Finnish citizenship in 2017 (2016: 100).

More detailed yearly statistics available online

You can find the now confirmed statistics for 2017 in our statistical service at tilastot.migri.fi. You can find the statistic for 2015 and backwards in PDF format at the address http://migri.fi/en/statistics.

Further information:

Statistical service and its use: Press and Communications Services, Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 433 037, e-mail: media@migri.fi

Asylum statistics: Esko Repo, Director of Asylum Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, e-mail: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Immigration statistics: Tiina Suominen, Director of Immigration Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, e-mail: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Citizenship statistics: Ulla Vainikka, Head of Section, tel. +358 295 430 431, e-mail: firstname.lastname@migri.fi