Thousands of people who fled Ukraine may secure a municipality of residence from March
More than 45,000 people who fled Ukraine last year may be eligible for a municipality of residence in 2023 after residing in Finland for one year, with about 13,000 already satisfying the qualifying period of residence in March–April. On registering a municipality of residence, they will leave the reception services system and become clients of municipalities and wellbeing services counties. This will make them a more integrated part of society in Finland.
Ukrainians with a municipality of residence will have the same rights, services and duties as permanent residents in Finland. Municipalities and wellbeing services counties are responsible for arranging services.
“The longer Russia’s brutal invasion continues, the more Ukrainians will probably remain in the country that they fled to. Prolonged residence in Finland further highlights the importance of smooth daily life. Ukrainian war refugees must be swiftly incorporated into Finnish society. Municipalities and wellbeing services counties will have a key role and responsibility in this respect,” explains Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.
People who have fled Ukraine may request a municipality of residence online at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV) as of 1 March 2023, after residing in Finland for one year with a Finnish personal identification number and a residence permit for temporary protection issued at least one year ago that has been extended until 4 March 2024.
The Finnish Immigration Service will automatically extend temporary protection residence permits until this date, with no need for people who have fled Ukraine to request this extension separately in person.
Ukrainians will request a municipality of residence using an online form to be made available on the DVV website as of 1 March 2023. There will be no requirement to visit a DVV service point. DVV will also arrange a specialised advisory service for Ukrainians seeking a municipality of residence, which will also be available in the Ukrainian language. Reception centres will also assist in requesting a personal identification number and a municipality of residence where necessary.
Requesting a municipality of residence is a voluntary process
It remains hard to estimate how many people who have fled Ukraine will eventually seek a municipality of residence in Finland. Requesting a municipality of residence is a voluntary process, and people will also be free to continue living in Finland as clients of a reception centre and the reception services system. A municipality of residence will nevertheless be useful to those who intend to remain in Finland for the foreseeable future. A municipality of residence in Finland will not affect citizenship or rights in Ukraine. It is also not an obstacle to anyone seeking to return to Ukraine at a later time.
The decision to request a municipality of residence may be made according to personal circumstances. The Finnish authorities would nevertheless prefer all of the members of a family with underage children to be covered by the same service system.
How a municipality of residence will affect the lives of Ukrainians
The Finnish Immigration Service directs and supervises reception centres and reception services. Reception centres are responsible for arranging reception services. After a person living in Finland for the purpose of temporary protection secures a municipality of residence, all public services provided to that person will be arranged by the municipality and by the wellbeing services county. The Finnish Immigration Service will remain responsible for residence permits.
Securing a municipality of residence may not affect housing at all if a Ukrainian has already acquired a dwelling in Finland or is staying, for example, with a friend or relative. On the other hand, Ukrainians who have previously lived in a reception centre or in accommodation arranged by a reception centre will be required to arrange and pay for their own accommodation. People on low incomes may be eligible for a housing allowance from the Social Insurance Institution (Kela).
The right to a reception allowance will end, but Ukrainians with a municipality of residence may be eligible for Kela benefits, such as child allowance and housing allowance. They may also be eligible for basic social assistance from Kela.
The right to work continues as before. A person living in Finland for the purpose of temporary protection may register as an unemployed jobseeker at an Employment and Economic Development Centre (TE office). On registering a municipality of residence, such a jobseeker will become a client of any municipal employment trial in which the municipality of residence is involved. An amendment to the Municipal Employment Trials Act (1269/2020) now allows people to become clients of a municipal employment trial even before registering a municipality of residence as of 1 March 2023.
Registering a municipality of residence facilitates childcare arrangements, as a child is then entitled to early childhood education, even if one or both parents are at home. Children of pre-school age are required to participate in pre-school education, and children and young people of compulsory school age are required to attend compulsory education.
A person with a municipality of residence is no longer eligible for health and social services through a reception centre. Arranging these services then becomes a responsibility of the wellbeing services county. The right to various social services expands, whereas the scope of healthcare services remains as before.
There is no requirement to choose a large town or city as a municipality of residence
The municipality of residence depends on the place of residence. An individual is free to move anywhere in Finland. It has nevertheless been forecast that as Ukrainian refugees include many families with children, they will not necessarily head for the growth centres in which other immigrants in Finland have concentrated.
It is likely that schooling and early childhood education will tie these families to their current places of residence all over Finland. Seasonal work will also tie Ukrainians to rural areas.
Several public authorities involved in changes
The Ministry of the Interior set up a coordination group on 1 March 2022 to consider the migration situation arising from the Russian invasion, and this group has continued to meet regularly over the year. Some special issues related to the transfer of Ukrainians to municipalities have been settled at these meetings in recent months. Besides public authorities, this work includes participants from municipalities, civil society and the business sector.
The transition to municipalities of residence must also be widely communicated to ensure that Ukrainians know how to request a municipality of residence and what changes this will bring in their rights and duties. It is also important to inform municipalities, wellbeing services counties, organisations and other stakeholders about the change. Several ministries, agencies and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities have assisted in planning communications.
For further details, please contact:
- Sanna Sutter, Director of Immigration, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 29 548 8200, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tiina Järvinen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 29 548 8625, email@example.com
- Kaisa Rontu, Senior Adviser, Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 29 543 3037, firstname.lastname@example.org (residence permits, reception services)
- Maisa Gynther, Chief Specialist, Digital and Population Data Services Agency (requesting a municipality of residence), tel. +358 29 553 6355, email@example.com
- Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser, (requests to interview Minister Kaisa Mikkonen), tel. +358 50 304 8522, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instructions for municipalities concerning the Ukraine crisis | Ministry of the Interior (in Finnish)
- Temporary protection and municipality of residence | Finnish Immigration Service
- Comparison between reception services and services of a municipality of residence | Finnish Immigration Service
- Instructions on arriving in Finland from Ukraine | Digital and Population Data Services Agency