Humanitarian protection no longer granted; new guidelines issued for Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia
Requirements for issuing residence permits to asylum seekers will be tightened. The provision of the Aliens Act allowing asylum seekers to be granted a residence permit on the basis of humanitarian protection was repealed yesterday.
Residence permits based on humanitarian protection were a national permit category in Finland before the Act was amended. In future, residence permits on the basis of international protection will include residence permits issued under the asylum procedure or on the basis of subsidiary protection.
The Finnish Immigration Service has also issued new guidelines concerning Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia as a result of updating its assessments of the security situation in these countries. In the past few months, the security situation has gradually improved in all three countries, although it may have got worse at times for certain specific areas locally. Due to the improved security situation, it will be more difficult for applicants from these countries to be granted a residence permit on the basis of subsidiary protection.
Humanitarian protection was granted due to difficult regional conditions
Residence permits used to be issued on the basis of humanitarian protection when the applicant did not meet the requirements for asylum or subsidiary protection but could not return to his or her home country because of a bad security situation or an environmental catastrophe. A bad security situation might have been due to an armed conflict or a poor human rights situation.
In practice, humanitarian protection was granted, for example, to applicants coming from central and southern Somalia if it was considered that they could not return to the area because of the risk of having to face severe conditions. Some areas in Iraq and Afghanistan have also been considered to have particularly bad conditions.
The legislative amendment will not affect the period of validity of the residence permits which have already been granted on the basis of humanitarian protection, but extended permits will no longer be issued on the said ground. When a residence permit based on humanitarian protection expires, the permit holder must either leave the country or apply for a new permit on some other ground. In Finland, residence permits may be issued, for example, for working, studying and pursuing a trade, or on the basis of family ties to the country.
The Finnish Immigration Service has granted a few hundred residence permits on the basis of humanitarian protection annually, most of them to applicants from Iraq and Somalia.
Obtaining subsidiary protection will become more difficult
It will also be more difficult to be granted subsidiary protection in Finland because of the improved security situation in the main countries of origin of asylum seekers arriving in Finland.
The Finnish Immigration Service has updated its assessments of the security situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. These assessments are made to establish whether it is safe to return to a given area, for example, and they are updated twice a year. According to the Finnish Immigration Service, it is currently possible for asylum seekers to return to all areas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia without the ongoing armed conflicts as such presenting a danger to them only because they are staying in the country.
The Finnish Immigration Service follows the security situation in the main countries of origin of asylum seekers on a regular basis. Nevertheless, when considering the issue of residence permits, the individual grounds for granting asylum or subsidiary protection are always assessed for each applicant.
Further information for the media
Jaana Vuorio, Director General, tel. +358 295 430 431, firstname.lastname@example.org