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Asylum seeker’s right to work

As an asylum seeker, you can start working (employment with a salary) three or six months after you have told the police or the border control authorities that you are applying for asylum in Finland.

  • The time limit is three months if you presented a valid and authenticated passport or other travel document to the authorities when you applied for asylum.
  • The limit is six months if you did not present a travel document.

The Finnish law states that you have the right to work. You do not need to apply for it separately. If your employment is continuous, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of work.

You must make sure that you do not work if you do not have the right to work. You need to inform the employer if your right to work has expired. Both you and the employer can be punished if you work without having the right to work.

The employer is responsible for verifying the right to work

The employer has the responsibility to verify:

  • that a foreign employee has a residence permit for an employed person, as required; or
  • that he or she does not need a residence permit.

From time to time, the employer must also check if an asylum seeker’s right to work is still valid.

When an employer wishes to hire an asylum seeker, the employer should begin by asking the asylum seeker if he or she has the right to work. The asylum seeker’s right to work has definitely begun when at least six months have passed since he or she applied for asylum, unless he or she has already received a lawful decision on the application.

If an asylum seeker has only been in the country for a short time, the employer should verify his or her right to work by contacting the Finnish Immigration Service. If an employer wants to hire an asylum seeker residing in Finland, the employer can call us to check if the asylum seeker has the right to work in gainful employment. You can find the service number for employers on the page Telephone service.

The Finnish Immigration Service does not give written certificates on an individual asylum seeker’s right to work.

When an employer asks us about an employee’s right to work, this is registered in the Register of Aliens. In other words, it is possible to see that the employer in question has checked if an asylum seeker has the right to work, for example if the employer is suspected of not fulfilling this duty.

How long the right to work is valid

As an asylum seeker, your right to work is valid until the Finnish Immigration Service, the Administrative Court or the Supreme Administrative Court has given its decision or until the Supreme Administrative Court has decided not to grant you leave to appeal.

In other words, an asylum seeker’s right to work is valid until the decision on his or her asylum application is final. Naturally, the right to work ends also when the person is removed from the country.

For example:

  • If the Finnish Immigration Service makes a negative decision on your asylum application, you have the right to work during the processing of your potential appeal.
  • If the Finnish Immigration Service makes a positive decision on your asylum application, you are granted a residence permit, which almost always includes the right to work.

If you do not appeal the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service or the Administrative Court, the decision will become final when the appeal period expires. The appeal period is 21 days from the date you have been informed of the decision. The appeal process may last from six months to two years.

Subsequent application and the right to work

If you submit a subsequent application, your right to work begins again from the date you submit the application, as long as you have not left Finland after the decision on your previous asylum application became final.

When you submit a subsequent application, the waiting periods of three or six months laid down in section 79(2) of the Aliens Act are not applied.

Right to work after receiving a negative asylum decision and a decision on refusal of entry

Your right to work is valid as long as you reside in Finland without interruption. If you find a job in Finland, you should apply for a separate residence permit on the basis of work.

You can apply for a separate residence permit in the e-service Enter Finland or at a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service.

You can either submit your application in Finland or submit it abroad after the decision on refusal of entry has been enforced.

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