Only a few asylum applications have been submitted during the coronavirus pandemic
The number of new asylum seekers has clearly decreased during the coronavirus pandemic. No asylum applications have been submitted at Finnish borders after the restrictions on border traffic came into force on 19 March 2020.
From 19 March to 30 April 2020, a total of 78 first asylum applications were submitted. Most of the applicants have already resided in Finland before the restrictions on entry into Finland came into force due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date of arrival and the travel route of eight applicants are still under examination through asylum investigation.
‘In general, the number of new asylum seekers has been low in recent years, but right now the number of new applicants is exceptionally low due to the coronavirus,’ says Antti Lehtinen, Director of Asylum Unit.
In total, 502 first asylum applications have been submitted in 2020. The statistics for April were published today in the statistics service tilastot.migri.fi.
Asylum decisions being made as usual
The Finnish Immigration Service is making decisions on the pending asylum applications as usual. Asylum interviews were temporarily interrupted from 16 March to 14 April 2020. Now the interviews are being held in premises where staff members and clients can be sufficiently protected from potential coronavirus infections. The equipment of interview rooms used include plexiglass screens, providing protection against the transmission of droplets.
‘During the pandemic, it has been possible to shorten the application queue considerably. We have been able to make decisions in the usual way on the applicants that have already been interviewed, while there have only been a few new applications. For the clearly largest part of the remaining applications, interviewing the applicant is required for the application to proceed. In the future, the number of interviews will affect the number of decisions directly. We are currently making arrangements that will allow us to increase the number of interviews safely,’ Mr Lehtinen says.
Applications for international protection can also be submitted during the exceptional circumstances. As is usual, the asylum application can only be submitted in Finland. The police or Border Guard will receive the application when the asylum seeker arrives in Finland, and guide the applicant to a reception centre. If the asylum seeker arrives in Finland from abroad, the reception centre will guide the applicant to circumstances corresponding to 14-day quarantine.
Further information for the media
- Director of Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen, [email protected], tel. +358 295 433 037