Quota refugees are refugees who are admitted to Finland under the so-called refugee quota. Before being admitted to Finland, they have fled their home country or their country of permanent residence into another country, but cannot stay permanently in that country.
A person considered a refugee by the UN refugee agency UNHCR can be admitted to Finland under the refugee quota.
Asylum seekers have travelled to Finland independently, and their need for international protection is assessed after their arrival in Finland, not beforehand. A person must be within Finnish territory before he or she can apply for asylum in Finland.
An asylum seeker is granted refugee status in Finland if he or she is granted asylum, whereas a quota refugee has already been granted refugee status and a four-year residence permit in Finland before his or her arrival in Finland.
Each year, the Finnish Parliament decides how many quota refugees Finland agrees to receive.
During the years 2001–2019, the number of refugees within the refugee quota was 750 per year. In 2020, the number was 850, and in 2021 it will be 1,050.
The Parliament may decide on an additional quota. For instance in 2014 and 2015, the quota was increased due to the difficult situation in Syria, and 1,050 quota refugees were admitted each year (additional quota: 300).
Once the Finnish Parliament has decided on how many quota refugees will be admitted to Finland, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will together prepare a proposal to the Government on the territorial allocation of the refugee quota. The proposal is based on negotiations with the UNHCR and the UNHCR's proposal to Finland. Once the Budget has been approved, the Minister of the Interior will confirm the decision of the Government by signing it.
Selection of quota refugees
In recent years, the majority of the quota refugees admitted to Finland have been Syrian refugees from Turkey. In addition to this, Finland has admitted Congolese refugees from Zambia and refugees in a particularly vulnerable position evacuated out of Libya to Niger by the UNHCR (mainly Eritreans).
A person can be granted a residence permit in Finland as part of the country’s refugee quota, if the following conditions are met:
The person is in need of international protection with regard to his or her home country.
The person cannot stay permanently in the country to which he or she has fled.
The requirements for admittance and integration into Finland have been assessed.
Public order and security or Finland’s international relations do not prevent the granting of a residence permit.
Quota refugees are usually selected on the basis of documents provided by the UNHCR and interviews conducted with the refugees themselves. Emergency cases are selected on the basis of documents.
The Finnish Immigration Service grants residence permits to those who are admitted to Finland as quota refugees.
The first residence permit is valid for four years. After that, it is possible to apply for an extension.
In recent years, a part of the refugee quota has been reserved for refugees who the UNHCR has estimated to be in need of urgent resettlement. Finland selects these persons on the basis of UNHCR documents.
Emergency: There is an immediate security threat, an urgent medical condition or some other life-threatening factor.
Urgent: There is a serious medical risk or other vulnerability requiring expedited resettlement.
Quota refugees are not housed in reception centres. Instead, they move directly to a municipality that has agreed to receive quota refugees. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) are responsible for the regional coordination and supervision of municipal places.
Each ELY Centre negotiates with the municipalities in its area and agrees on the number of refugees to be resettled into each municipality. The municipalities’ expenses are reimbursed by the KEHA Centre (the development and administration centre for ELY Centres and TE Offices).