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Just over 20,000 residence permits granted and over 8,000 new Finnish citizens in 2015

Publication date 22.1.2016 13.00
News item

The Finnish Immigration Service issued first residence permits to 20,709 individuals in 2015.*

Similarly to previous years, the majority of the permits were granted on the basis of family ties, studies or work. A total of 6,036 individuals were granted permits on the basis of family ties (6,774 in 2014), and 5,869 applicants were granted permits for studies (5,611 in 2014). A total of 5,436 individuals were granted residence permits on the basis of work (5,062 in 2014). Most residence permits were granted to Russian (2,772; 3,461 in 2014), Chinese (1,698; 1,606 in 2014) and Indian (1,634; 1,954 in 2014) citizens.

The next highest number of residence permits was granted to individuals who sought asylum in Finland. A total of 1,628 individuals were issued with a residence permit on the basis of international protection (993 in 2014), of whom 1,112 applicants were granted asylum, i.e. refugee status (501 in 2014). A further 251 asylum seekers were granted residence permits on other grounds, such as on compassionate grounds or on the basis of family ties (353 in 2014). Most residence permits were granted to asylum seekers who had arrived from Iraq (652), Somalia (486) and Afghanistan (121).

Finland also admitted 1,034 quota refugees from Lebanon, Egypt, Malawi, Zambia and Iran.

A total of 1,307 asylum seekers, whose applications were decided in Finland, received a negative decision (41% of applicants who received a decision). The majority of the decisions made last year were issued to asylum seekers who had arrived in Finland before autumn. A considerably higher number of asylum applications expired in 2015 than before (3,186; 310 in 2014), with the applicant cancelling the application being the most common reason. A total of 1,094 applications were dismissed and left unprocessed in Finland for example due to the Dublin Regulation. The total number of asylum decisions was 7,466.

Negative decisions were issued to 3,450 other residence permit applicants (16% of those who received a decision).

Record number of asylum seekers

More asylum seekers arrived in Finland in 2015 than ever before. By the end of the year, a total of 32,476 individuals had sought asylum in Finland (3,651 in 2014), the majority of whom were Iraqis (20,485). The next highest numbers of asylum seekers arrived from Afghanistan (5,214), Somalia (1,981) and Syria (877).

New reception centres were opened at a fast rate and, by the end of the year, their number had increased from the 18 adult units that were open at the beginning of the year to 142 units. The number of units for minors increased from eight to 68 units. In addition to these, there were two detention units. Reception services were being provided to a total of 29,800 individuals at the end of the year (3,041 in 2014).

A total of 22,876 individuals applied for a residence permit on other grounds (22,076 in 2014). The most common grounds for permit applications were family ties (9,471), work (6,418) and studies (6,297). Russian (3,320; 3,737 in 2014), Chinese (1,791; 1,774 in 2014) and Indian (1,670; 1,954 in 2014) applicants submitted the largest numbers of residence permit applications.

A total of 8,281 new Finnish citizens

A total of 8,281 individuals acquired Finnish citizenship in 2015 (8,499 in 2014). Approximately 70% of decisions on citizenship applications were positive. Similarly to 2014, Russian (1,738; 2,343 in 2014), Somali (951; 856 in 2014) and Iraqi (554; 422 in 2014) applicants received the highest numbers of positive citizenship decisions.

A total of 11,880 individuals applied for Finnish citizenship by submitting an application or a declaration. The majority of them submitted a citizenship application.

As in previous years, most applications were received from Russians (2,312; 2,322 in 2014). The next biggest groups of applicants were Somalis (1,316; 1,898 in 2014), Iraqis (988; 1,136 in 2014), Afghans (508; 523 in 2014) and Estonians (448; 426 in 2014).

More detailed annual statistics available online

Statistics for the year 2015 and previous years can be found on our website at > For the media > Statistics.

More information after the press conference finishing at 14.00:

Residence permits: Tiina Suominen, Director, Immigration Unit

Asylum statistics: Juha Similä, Head of Section, Asylum Unit

Citizenship statistics: Heikki Taskinen, Director, Nationality Unit

Reception statistics: Jorma Kuuluvainen, Director, Reception Unit

Tel: +358 295 430 431

Callback requests and more information: Press and Communications Services, tel. +358 295 433 037,

* The police issue the first residence permit if the applicant is a family member of a Finnish citizen and he or she is applying for the permit in Finland. These figures are not included in the Finnish Immigration Service’s statistics. The figures also do not include EU citizens and their family members. The right of EU citizens to reside in Finland is registered by the police, who also issue residence cards to EU citizens’ family members.

ATTACHMENT: Statistical graphs 2015ReadSpeakerpdf, 189,8 kB

Press release