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Immigration statistics 2018: Last year, more and more people applied for a residence permit based on work

Publication date 16.1.2019 9.34
Press release

More and more immigrants applied for a residence permit last year based on work or stud-ies. According to the annual statistics of the Finnish Immigration Service, the number of work-based residence permit applications increased clearly compared to last year. In total, 10,805* first residence permit applications were submitted based on work (2017: 8,650).

There are several kinds of work-based residence permits; for example, specialists and entrepreneurs have their own permits. The number of applications increased in almost all of these permit types. The growth is partially explained by the fact that new permit types, such as a seasonal work permit, were introduced in 2018. In addition, startup entrepreneurship became grounds for applying for a work permit last year. In addition to residence permits, 6,783 seasonal work certificates intended for seasonal work lasting less than three months were granted.

The number of residence permit applications by international students increased last year. The largest number of applicants came from China and Russia. 6,281 persons applied for their first student residence permit (2017: 5,646). The lower number of applications last year was most likely affected by the introduction of tuition fees for university students from outside the EU in the autumn of 2017.

In all, the number of residence permit applications in 2018 remained on the same level as in 2017. A total of 66,381* persons applied for a residence permit (2017: 65,167). It is also possible to apply for a residence permit on the basis of family ties, for example.

Registration of EU citizens

The number of registrations of EU citizens increased clearly last year. There were 8,749 people registered last year, while in 2017 there were 7,800 people.

A citizen of the EU, Liechtenstein or Switzerland does not require a residence permit for Finland. However, the right of residence must be registered for a stay of more than three months in Finland.

Estonians were clearly the largest group to be registered.

Half of the asylum applications are re-applications

The number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland was lower than before the record year 2015, when more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. Before 2015, the number of applicants remained relatively stable at 3,000–4 000 applicants per year.

In 2018, a total of 4,548 asylum applications were submitted (2017: 5 046), but nearly one half of them were re-applications. There were 2,409 first asylum applications (2017: 2,137) and 2,139 re-applications. The largest group of re-applications came from Iraqis (1,347 pcs).

A re-application refers to an application concerning international protection submitted by a person after receiving a legally valid decision concerning a previous application. A common reason for re-application is that the applicant states new grounds that had not emerged before. The most typical new grounds provided by the applicant are the applicant having converted to Christianity in Finland or that they are a member of a sexual or gender minority.

After Iraqis, the largest citizenship groups among asylum seekers were the Russians and Somalis. Russians became the second-largest group of applicants during last year. A large number of the Russian asylum seekers were Jehovah’s Witnesses and North Caucasians.

43% of the decisions made in 2018 were positive (2017: 40%). The share of negative decisions was 31% (2017: 42%). The numbers also include decisions concerning re-applications. The rest of the applications were dismissed after a preliminary investigation (20%) or expired (6%).

Almost a hundred deportation decisions because of criminal offences

Last year, the Finnish Immigration Service issued deportation decisions to 173 persons who were found guilty of criminal offences. Out of these persons, 95 were deported, which was over half of the persons who received a deportation decision on these grounds. Deportation means that a foreign national, who either holds or has held a residence permit, is removed from the country. Among those who received a deportation decision, Iraqis were the largest group.

A foreign national may be deported, if he or she is found guilty of an offence carrying a maximum sentence of imprisonment for a year or more, or if he or she is found guilty of repeated offences. These decisions are always based on an overall assessment and take into account factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the person’s ties to Finland and his or her health.

In recent years, the number of deportation decisions issued because of criminal offences has remained approximately the same. For instance in 2017, the agency issued a deportation decision to 100 persons.

Last year, the total number of persons who received a deportation decision was 1,092. Out of these decisions, 997 decisions were related to unauthorised residence in the country.

When a deportation decision has been issued, the police are responsible for removing the person from the country.

Finland received 9,600 new citizens

More people than in previous years applied for Finnish citizenship. A total of 11,676 citizenship applications were submitted during last year (2017: 10,704). Russian citizens are still the largest group of applicants. Somalis and Iraqis are among the other largest groups of applicants.

There were 1,020 citizenship declarations made. Certain groups of people, such as former Finnish citizens, can obtain Finnish citizenship by declaration.

Last year, Finnish citizenship was granted to a total of 9,610 individuals. The number decreased compared to 2017, when citizenship was granted to 12,600 individuals. The larger number of decisions in 2017 was due to a backlog from earlier years being cleared.

The statistic also showed a slight increase in applications by citizens of the United Kingdom. When citizenship declarations are also included, 230 citizens of the United Kingdom applied for Finnish citizenship. (2017: 201, 2016: 99).

More annual statistics on the website

Confirmed statistics for 2018 can be found in our statistics service Statistics from 2015 and earlier can be found in .pdf format at the address

Further information for the media

Asylum statistics: Esko Repo, Director of the Asylum Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, e-mail:

Immigration statistics: Tiina Suominen, Director of the Immigration Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, email:

Citizenship statistics: Heikki Taskinen, Director of the Nationality Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, email:

Other questions related to statistics: Finnish Immigration Service, Press and Communications Services, tel. +358 295 433 037, email:

*Correction made 2.4.2019: A total of 10,805 first residence permit applications were submitted based on work in 2018, not 10,762. A total of 66,381 residence permit applications were submitted in 2018, not 65,508.