Asylum seekers will soon receive information about the asylum processes also on video
The Finnish Immigration Service is currently developing the general legal counselling provided at reception centres. The counselling refers to providing information about legal aid related to the asylum process and assistance in finding legal aid, which are part of the duties of the centre. Reception centres also provide information on a general level about the processing of asylum applications as well as the rights and obligations of the applicant. One factor affecting the increased need for counselling involves the changes made to the legal aid of asylum seekers in 2016.
"It is important that asylum seekers receive clear and comprehensive information about the asylum procedure already in the initial phase. This ensures that they receive information about the course of the process as well as their own rights and obligations related to it. It also affects how smoothly the whole process goes," says Project Manager Elina Eronen, Finnish Immigration Service.
In order to develop the counselling, its current status and development needs have been investigated. Various different parties have been heard during the investigation, such as asylum seekers, reception centre staff and legal counsels, as well as representatives of organisations and minor asylum seekers without a guardian.
General legal counselling was provided by all reception centres, but there are some differences between their practices. The goal of the Finnish Immigration Service is that all applicants living in reception centres will receive the same information.
The asylum process on step-by-step videos
The asylum seekers want to have as concrete information as possible about the course of the asylum process. Currently information sessions, for instance, are held at almost all reception centres. The counselling is best supported by clear visual material in the person’s own language. For example, mobile applications and videos are considered good methods for disseminating information.
‘Most of the asylum seekers had participated in the information sessions, but they hadn’t always internalised the information provided there. The challenging life situation of asylum seekers and living in uncertainty may make it more difficult for them to receive information,’ Ms Eronen says.
At the end of the year, a new series of videos telling about the processing of asylum applications will be published for the applicants. In the videos, the asylum process is presented step by step in the languages most commonly spoken by asylum seekers. A separate video on the asylum interview will also be published. It tells about how one should prepare for the interview and what happens while it is taking place. The videos also discuss issues such as the duties of the authorities, legal aid, and what happens after the Finnish Immigration Service makes a decision.
People who cannot read or write as well as other groups with special needs have been taken into account in producing the materials.
New instructions on how to prepare for an asylum interview
Other instructions for asylum seekers have also been updated. New written instructions have been drawn up for asylum seekers; applicants receive the instructions when they are summoned to the asylum interview. Among other things, the instructions explain what an asylum interview is, how you should prepare for it, and how to behave during the interview.
"In the instructions, special attention has been paid to ensuring that the language is simple and that everyone can understand it. Separate instructions have been drawn up specifically for minor asylum seekers," Ms Eronen says.
The instructions have been drawn up in 13 languages in total, meaning all of the languages most commonly spoken by asylum seekers.
The ONE project has been funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the EU.
FACTS: Asylum seekers receive general information about the asylum process at reception centres
- General legal counselling at the reception centres refers to providing general information about the asylum process, its various stages, and the applicant’s rights and obligations as related to the same.
- Social workers, social instructors and counsellors in particular provide general counselling to asylum seekers at the reception centres.
- The reception centre does not provide legal aid. The reception centre provides information on how asylum seekers can contact the parties providing legal aid and, if necessary, assists the applicants in getting help. Legal aid is offered by public legal aid offices and lawyers’ offices. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for arranging it.
Further information for the media
- Project Manager Elina Eronen, email: [email protected]fi, tel. +358 295 433 037