Finnish Immigration Service in 2018: Decrease in reception costs

25.3.2019 11.29
Press release

The costs of receiving asylum seekers continued to decrease in the year under review. The costs of reception amounted to about EUR 189 million in 2018, compared to EUR 282 million in 2017.

The average cost of one day of accommodation went down roughly to its pre-2015 level, being EUR 48 per person in the year under review as compared to EUR 55 in the previous year. The average cost includes all reception centre expenses, such as the centre's rent and property maintenance, employees’ salaries, services and the reception allowance paid to residents.

Some reception centres have been closed, because the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland has decreased. The number of asylum applications received in the year under review was 4,548, down about 10% on the previous year. About half of these were re-applications. The number of applicants in the reception system decreased from 13,100 to about 10,680 in the course of the year under review.

Nevertheless, the asylum seeker situation that emerged in 2015 continues to have an impact on the agency’s operations. The process has dragged on for some applicants, because some of those whose applications have been rejected have appealed to administrative courts, and many of those who have already received an asylum decision have filed re-applications. Processing these asylum applications proved to be more challenging than before due to the new grounds cited in the re-applications.

Growth seen in nearly all types of application

According to the financial statements of the Finnish Immigration Service, its costs after revenues for the financial year 2018 amounted to just under EUR 215 million. The costs decreased by 22% on the previous year. The reason for this decrease was a clear decrease in the number of asylum seekers, which had a direct impact on the costs of reception.

The Finnish Immigration Service received slightly more revenue from application processing fees than in the previous year, about EUR 19.8 million (2017: EUR 19.0 million). However, the processing fees do not fully cover the costs of the decision-making process, for instance, because minors and students are charged a discounted processing fee.

The year 2018 was again one of growth for the Finnish Immigration Service. The number of immigration permit applications filed continued to grow: the increase in residence permit applications and registrations of EU citizens’ right of residence was nearly 13%. (2018: (96,473, 2017: 85,538).

"Processing this growing number of applications requires that sufficient resources will be secured for the agency for the coming years, so that customers will not have to wait unduly long for decisions," says Kari Kananen, Director of Finance.

More and more immigrants applied for a residence permit last year based on work or studies. By contrast, there was a slight decrease in the number of first residence permit applications on the basis of family ties. There was a slight increase in the number of applications filed by Finnish citizens and by family members resident in Finland for other reasons such as employment, but the number of applications by family members who had received international protection decreased by more than a third.

The number of citizenship applications increased by about 1,200 on the previous year, or about 9%. (2018: (14,196, 2017: 13,016).

New channels for customers – fewer phone calls

In the year under review, the Finnish Immigration Service invested heavily in improving customer service and continued to reform and digitise its processes.

In the course of the year, the waiting times for appointments at service points were dramatically reduced, and it is now possible to book an appointment within one month. There are nine service points around the country. Applications for residence permits, travel documents, EU citizen’s registration and citizenship must be submitted at a service point.

Two new customer service channels were introduced during the year under review: the AI-based chatbot Kamu and a live chat channel. The response rate of the phone service improved considerably. Thanks to the redesigned website, processing time counter, and chatbot and phone service reform, the number of calls received during the year decreased by more than 100,000 on the previous year. Customers were increasingly referred to conduct their business online so that their applications would be more efficiently processed.

The Finnish Immigration Service’s report on operations and financial statements have been published on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Further information for the media

Kari Kananen, Director of Finance, tel. +358 29 5430 431, email: [email protected]