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Disclosure of data for scientific research purposes

It is possible to request data from the data systems and registers of the Finnish Immigration Service for the purpose of conducting scientific research. Researchers can submit a document and information request or an application for a research permit to the Finnish Immigration Service.

In general, information and documents related to customers of the Finnish Immigration Service are kept secret under section 24 subsection 1 paragraph 24 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities and section 11 of the Act on the Register of Aliens. On a case-to-case basis, the Finnish Immigration Service may grant permission to gain access to a secret document for purposes of scientific research, statistical compilations or the preparation of official plans or studies, if it is obvious that access will not violate the interests protected by the secrecy provision.

If you wish to gain access to confidential information for the purpose of scientific research, you need to apply for a research permit. The application must contain your basic details and specify, in as much detail as possible, which information you need and for what purpose. Your application must contain a research plan in which you describe what data you need and why.

The Finnish Immigration Service will decide whether a research permit can be granted. When evaluating the research permit application, the Finnish Immigration Service will consider the freedom of science, the legal basis for granting a research permit, the legislation governing the disclosure of data, and the appropriateness of granting a research permit.  Research permits are granted for a fixed term, and they may also be cancelled if there are grounds for doing so.

As a rule, the Finnish Immigration Service does not grant access to secret documents for thesis projects conducted for a university degree. Thesis projects are not regarded as scientific research within the meaning of section 28 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. If you need data for your thesis, you can submit a document request.

Applying for research permit

Research permit application

If you need confidential information from the registers of the Finnish Immigration Service for the purposes of scientific research, you have two options:

•    fill in a form from the website of the Ministry of Justice, or
•    submit a free-form application.

As a rule, the application should contain the following attachments:

  • your research plan;
  • a reference from the professor supervising your thesis work if you are writing a thesis;
  • a copy of your publishing contract if the study will be published;
  • a positive statement from an ethics review committee, or information about the processing stage of the matter at the committee;
  • a record of processing activities for the research register (previously known as description of file);
  • a data protection impact assessment or code of conduct, if the research project involves processing special categories of personal data or processing personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences;
  • a description of the processing and protection of personal data: who will process the data; where the data will be processed; how the data will be stored and for how long; how the data is protected and how the processing of the data is monitored; how any unauthorised use of the data is prevented; how and when the data is disposed of;
  • other research permits granted or applied for, if any;
  • a signed non-disclosure agreement which the Finnish Immigration Service will provide for the researcher during the application process.

Research plan

The research plan will bind the data disclosed from a register to a specific research project. The purpose of the research plan is to specify, in as much detail as possible, the information requested and the reason why this information is necessary for the purpose and goals of the study.

The research plan must contain at least the following information:

  • a detailed account of the topic of the study;
  • the background for the study;
  • the objective of the study;
  • as detailed account of the research questions and methods as possible;
  • the schedule for the study;
  • a description of the publishing and utilisation of the research results;
  • the data needed for the study and a description of why this data is necessary for the study.

If the data to be disclosed for scientific research purposes on a large scale involves processing of personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences or special categories of personal data, such as information about a person’s ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or sexual orientation, a derogation from the rights of data subjects requires, as laid down in section 31 of the Data Protection Act (1050/2018), that a data protection impact assessment referred to in Article 35 of the Data Protection Regulation be carried out or that codes of conduct in accordance with Article 40 of the Data Protection Regulation be complied with. Submit a data protection impact assessment or a code of conduct in writing to the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman and to the Finnish Immigration Service before the application is reviewed.

Submitting a research permit application

Send your research permit application and the necessary attachments to the Registry of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Contact details of the Registry:

Enquiries about research permits should be sent to the agency's Legal Service: [email protected]

Service of the research permit decision and the fees applied

If you wish to receive the decision on your research permit application by email, state so in your application and include the email address to which the decision should be sent. If you do not give your consent for electronic service of notice, specify the postal address to which the decision should be sent.

If you are not satisfied with the research permit decision, you can appeal the decision to an administrative court. Remember to mention your municipality of residence in your research permit application so that we can provide you with the correct appeal instructions.

Decisions on research permits are free of charge. If you request documents or information from us, we may in some cases charge you the costs of responding to your request.

More information about the costs of document and information requests