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Forecasts about the number of applications

On this page you will find the following forecasts:

The Finnish Immigration Service’s foresight network consists of experts who meet three times a year to make quantitative and qualitative forecasts about migration to Finland and about asylum seekers arriving in Finland. The Finnish Immigration Service makes the projections in cooperation with different interest groups, and is responsible for coordinating the work of the foresight network. The network’s operations are directed by an inter-administrative steering group consisting of different authorities. 

The Finnish Immigration Service’s foresight network updated its estimates for 2024 and 2025 in December 2023.

The forecasts are updated three times a year and published on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. This page was last updated on 31 January 2024.

Need for temporary protection will continue until 2024

The number of applications for temporary protection continued to fall steadily in 2023. Since September 2023, the weekly number of applications has been well below 300. According to the updated forecast of the foresight network, 8,000-12,000 applicants for temporary protection will arrive in Finland in 2024 (the previous forecast was 10,000-15,000 applicants).

The number of applicants arriving from Ukraine depends on factors such as:

  • the duration and extent of the war
  • the development of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine
  • the strain on the reception capacity especially in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries and in the Baltic countries
  • National changes in social security or temporary protection conditions in the main host countries for Ukrainians 
  • the number of Ukrainians who move between EU countries.

There is considerable uncertainty about the estimated number of applications in 2024, as it is difficult to predict how the war in Ukraine and the resulting refugee situation will develop.

Number of asylum applications is expected to increase moderately

The future projections of the Finnish Immigration Service do not take a position on the change in the number of asylum seekers as a result of hybrid operations or the instrumentalisation of migrants. The projections for this specific aspect are therefore not included in the current estimates of the number of applications. The preparation for instrumentalisation operations is part of the preparedness and contingency activities of the administrative department of the Ministry of the Interior. 

The number of asylum applications in the European Union has remained at a high level since 2022 and continued to increase in 2023. The high number of applications is partly due to protracted conflicts in the main countries of origin and the strain on the internal refugee situation in transit countries. However, the increase in the number of asylum applications in Europe has not had a major impact on the number of applications in Finland.

Number of first asylum applications has returned to pre-pandemic levels

In 2023, a total of 4,559 first asylum applications were made in Finland. The number of applications remained moderate throughout the year. Of the total number of asylum seekers, about 1,300 arrived in Finland via the eastern border between July and December. Without the instrumentalisation of migrants and the resulting increase in applications in November and December, the total number of applications in 2023 would have been the same as in 2017-2018. 

Number of asylum applications submitted by Russian nationals has remained low

There was a marked increase in the number of asylum applications submitted by Russian nationals after Russia declared a military mobilisation in autumn 2022. However, following the imposition of entry and visa restrictions in late September, asylum application volumes declined rapidly and have remained low. The opportunities for Russian citizens to apply for asylum remain limited due to existing entry restrictions at the Finnish-Russian border, limited visa issuance, and the inspection activities of the Russian border authorities.

The average annual number of asylum applications is estimated at 4,000

The foresight network estimates that the number of first asylum applications will reach 3,500-4,500 per year in 2024-2025.

The reasons behind the expected increase include prolonged conflicts in countries of origin most relevant to Finland and the strained refugee situation within transit countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Libya. However, the control of the internal and external borders of Europe and the geographical distance between Finland and the key entry routes constrain the increase. 

However, rapid and unexpected changes in the number of applications for international protection are possible. Moreover, the estimate does not take into account asylum applications submitted in Finland as a result of instrumentalisation operations.

The number of student applications to Finland is expected to increase in the coming years

In 2023, a record number of first-time applications for residence permits on the basis of studies were submitted, totalling 12,867 applications. The forecast network estimates that the number of student applicants will continue to be high. 

The number of applications is expected to reach 14,000 in 2024 and 15,000 in 2025.

The significant increase in applications for student residence permits can be explained by factors such as changes in the legislation on residence permits for students and researchers, as well as an increase in international study programmes and student numbers at higher education institutions. In addition, information about Finland is spread quickly on social media by students already living in the country, making Finland a more attractive place to study. 

The change in the number of first-time applications for residence permits by students is influenced by the following factors:

  • the available intake for international degree programmes
  • education exports and the number of students attending various courses that do not lead to a qualification
  • Finland’s attractiveness as a place to live and study.

Economic downturn is reflected in the number of work-based residence permit applications

The total number of first-time applications for residence permits based on employment in 2023 fell by about 19% from the record high of the previous year. A total of 16,999 applications were submitted. Although the number of applications was significantly lower than in 2022, it was still higher than in 2018-2021.

The number of applications is estimated to reach 19,000 in 2024 and 20,500 in 2025. 

The change in the number of applications for residence permits depends mainly on economic developments. Despite cyclical fluctuations, the ageing population and skills shortages are creating a need for foreign workers. Therefore, the number of employment-based residence permit applications is expected to increase moderately in the coming years.

The number of first work-based residence permit applications depends on factors including 

  • the weaker economic situation and its duration
  • the development of international recruitment networks 
  • national meaures, and 
  • the decline of the working-age population, and labour market mismatches.