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Immigration to Finland continues to be high – interest in studying in Finland is growing

Publication date 21.6.2023 11.19
Press release

The increase in immigration is primarily due to individuals moving to Finland for work or education with their family members, and the increase in applications for international protection seen elsewhere in Europe has not been seen in Finland. These facts can be found in the Finnish Immigration Services’ new report on immigration to Finland, entitled Maahanmuutto Suomeen.

In early 2023, a total of 7,343 applications for work-based first residence permits were submitted, which is slightly less than in the previous year.  

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had a significant effect on the number of applications submitted in 2022. The war especially caused the number of seasonal work permit applications to plummet,” says Johannes Hirvelä, Director of Development at the Finnish Immigration Service.

In 2023, the number of applications from Russian citizens has levelled out after the record numbers seen in the previous year. 

Most of the work-based residence permit applications are for a residence permit for an employed person. In particular, the number of favourable decisions for individuals seeking to work in the social and health care sector has grown significantly in recent years. The growth is affected by the shortage of nurses and companies’ increased international recruitment.

Significant increase in the number of first residence permits for students  

Interest in Finland’s education system is growing. In 2022, the amendments to legislation on student residence permits increased the number of international students applying to study in Finland. Based on the number of applications submitted this year, the growth has only accelerated. 

Granting a residence permit for the entire duration of the degree programme and the extended right to work have also contributed to the increased number of students with families.  

Of those who applied for a student residence permit between January and May 2023, the majority were aiming for a degree. Their share of all applicants was 90%. In early 2023, most applications were submitted by citizens of China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Increase in applications for international protection seen in Europe not seen in Finland

The number of applications for international protection has been growing in the European Union. In 2022, the total number of the applications exceeded 950,000 for the first time since 2016. In March 2023, a total of 84,000 first asylum applications were submitted in the European Union. 
However, the significant increase in the number of asylum applications seen elsewhere in Europe has not been seen in Finland. By the end of May 2023, a total of 1,310 first asylum applications were submitted in Finland. Most asylum seekers were citizens of Somalia, Russia, Afghanistan, Türkiye and Iran.  
“Although the record numbers of asylum seekers seen in Europe are not seen Finland, the circumstances in many of the countries of origin significant to Finland, such as Somalia and Afghanistan, continue to be precarious. In addition, if the European asylum system becomes overloaded, it may have a delayed effect in Finland. We are prepared for this,” says Hirvelä.
The number of applications for temporary protection submitted by Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war is trending downwards. By the end of May, a total of 8,722 applications for temporary protection had been submitted. Although the number of applications for temporary protection has remained moderate, migration due to the war is expected to continue in 2023 and 2024.

New statistical report provides information about current phenomena 

The Finnish Immigration Service has published the year’s first report on immigration to Finland on its website. The aim of the report is to increase awareness of immigration to Finland and the issues affecting it.  

“With the new information product, the Finnish Immigration Service wants to serve data users interested in immigration. We publish statistics and annual reviews on the preceding year extensively, but in future, we want to provide more current information more frequently about immigration to Finland in plain language,” says Hirvelä. 

The purpose of the Maahanmuutto Suomeen report on immigration to Finland is to describe the processes of the Finnish Immigration Service and the changes to them in an interesting and visual way.  

“The Maahanmuutto Suomeen report is the first of its kind, and it was created by specialists at the Finnish Immigration Service. In connection with this pilot publication, we will process feedback and requests from users, both in terms of the format and content of this situational picture. Our aim is to meet the needs of the data users and to publish the report periodically,” says Hirvelä.  

More statistics are available in the Maahanmuutto Suomeen report (in Finnish). 

Further information for the media