Finnish Immigration Service prepared to receive additional evacuees from Afghanistan in accordance with Government decision
The press release was issued in Finnish on 25 August at 18:01. On 24 August 2021, the Finnish Government supplemented its previous decisions regarding Afghanistan. In addition to the 170 persons concerned by the Government’s earlier decisions, Finland is set to receive 128 evacuees comprising former employees of the Finnish Embassy in Kabul and security sector employees together with their families.
The arrangements related to the reception of the evacuated persons in Finland are the responsibility of the Finnish Immigration Service. The evacuees will be accommodated at reception centres around the country until they are issued with residence permits.
‘As the evacuees arrive at the reception centres, they will be met by staff, who will help them with settling in. They will be provided with suitable living spaces so that families can live together, for example. In addition to accommodation, the reception centres will provide other necessary services, including those related to health and social care’, said Finnish Immigration Service Director General Jari Kähkönen.
The Finnish Immigration Service has the necessary capacity to accommodate the persons evacuated from Afghanistan, and there is currently no need to increase the number of beds available at reception centres because of the situation in the country.
‘We are monitoring the situation closely and will be prepared to react to possible developments that could result in the need for increased reception centre capacity’, said Kähkönen.
The locations of the reception centres housing the evacuees will not be made public in order to ensure that, having experienced difficult conditions, their privacy is protected as they settle in Finland.
Four-year residence permits to be granted on humanitarian grounds
By decision of the Government, the Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for processing the residence permits of the persons arriving in Finland from Afghanistan.
They will be granted residence permits on special humanitarian grounds, and are therefore not considered asylum seekers. Initially, the permits will be valid for four years. The Finnish Immigration Service is prepared to process the residence permits as a matter of urgency.
Once the Finnish Immigration Service has issued the residence permits, the evacuees will move from the reception centres to municipalities. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will agree with the municipalities on the placement of the evacuees.
The residence permits will also include the right to work and study in Finland.
When the holder of a residence permit issued on special humanitarian grounds has resided in Finland continuously for four years, he or she may apply for a permanent residence permit.
Some 50 asylum applications submitted by evacuees from Afghanistan
In August, Afghans have submitted a total of 69 asylum applications, of which approximately 50 were lodged by persons arriving in Finland on evacuation flights from Afghanistan. Most of these have come from family members of persons who have received consular assistance.
The total number of asylum seekers currently arriving in Finland remains low.
Between January and August 2021, a total of 617 first asylum applications have been lodged, with 132 of these submitted by Afghans. The total number of subsequent applications submitted this year currently stands at 864. The situation in Afghanistan has not had an impact on the number of subsequent applications lodged.
Issuing of negative decisions on Afghans’ applications currently suspended
At the moment, the Finnish Immigration Service is not issuing negative decisions on applications lodged by Afghans in Finland.
On 9 July 2021, the Finnish Immigration Service suspended issuing negative decisions that would entail returning persons to Afghanistan. The suspension is in force until further notice as the Finnish Immigration Service reviews its guidelines on Afghanistan amid the changes in the country’s security situation. Positive decisions may be issued in cases in which the individual situation of an applicant fulfils the relevant conditions.
The Finnish Immigration Service is also working with other EU Member States and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). It is important to monitor how these actors and the UN refugee agency UNHCR are reacting to the situation in Afghanistan.
The Finnish Immigration Service is currently processing over 300 asylum applications lodged by Afghans.
Previous press releases:
- Press release by the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Immigration Service, 23 August 2021: Flight carrying people evacuated from Afghanistan has arrived in Finland
- Jari Kähkönen, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 2954 33037, email: [email protected]