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Quota refugee statistics for2020 published – the coronavirus pandemic affected the selection process

Publication date 5.3.2021 9.12

Finland’s refugee quota for last year was 850 refugees. Finland accepted 730 quota refugees in 2020. The most quota refugees arrived in Finland from Syria (399) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (211).

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the selection of refugees evacuated from Libya to Niger was postponed until early part of 2021. During 2020, 661 quota refugees arrived in Finland. 

“Admitting quota refugees is a way of helping those in the most vulnerable situation. Most of the world’s refugees live near conflict areas, and only a small number of them can leave their country of residence,” says Susanne Tengman, Head of the Resettlement Section.

Quota refugees were interviewed remotely for the first time

The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for the admission of quota refugees in Finland. In normal circumstances, quota refugees are selected on selection missions during which the Finnish Immigration Service, the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or representatives from the local authorities interview quota refugees preselected by the UNHCR at their place of residence. The Finnish Immigration Service makes the decisions following the mission.

Last year, the only selection mission took place in March in Ankara, Turkey. Based on the mission in Turkey, Finland accepted 249 quota refugees from Syria.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no other selection missions could be organised. Instead, Finland carried out selections based on remote interviews and documents as recommended by the United National Refugee Agency UNHRC as a result of the pandemic. The first selection based on remote interviews was completed in the early autumn for refugees in Lebanon, and the second at the end of the year for refugees in Niger.  

“The remote interviews were carefully planned in cooperation with experts from different organisations. In principle, the remote interviews were similar to in-person interviews. The entire family attends the interview session, during which we establish the personal details of the refugees, their need for international protection and resettlement, the factors related to general order and security, and the refugee’s capacity for integration. While the conditions in the countries of residence and the national coronavirus restriction varied, the remote interviews could be carried out successfully,” says Tengman.

Quota refugees accepted in Finland in 2020

Destination/selectionsAccepted Accepted Nationality of accepted refugees
March, selection mission
249 Syria 248, stateless 1**
June, document-based selection
211 Democratic Republic of the Congo
September, remote interviews
151 Syria
Emergency cases, document-based selection 119 Various citizenships
Total 730*  

*Children born after the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service are not included in the statistics.
**Other family members are Syrian.

Read more about the statistics at

Fact: Refugees in Finland

  • Refugees arrive in Finland under three different statuses: as asylum seekers, family members of asylum seekers and quota refugees.
  • The asylum application is filed while in Finland, whereas quota refugees are interviewed on location in their country of residence.
  • In Finland, the Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for the selection of quota refugees.
  • A quota refugee is a person whom the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has determined to be a refugee.
  • A quote refugee has had to leave his or her home country or country of permanent residence, and cannot stay in the country to which he or she has fled.

Further information for the media

Piia Pirkola-Mercier, Substitute Head of Section, Senior Adviser, tel. 0295 433 037,