- Relatively small and recent country of net immigration since mid-1980s
- Slightly more humanitarian migrants in recent years, though no dramatic changes in the overall number of newcomers
- 2011-2014 left-right coalition replaces centre-right coalition after 2011 election
- Some of most positive attitudes towards immigrants in EU: 80% think that non-EU immigrants should have the same rights as FI citizens
- Rank: 4 out of 38
- MIPEX Score: 69
- LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 80
- FAMILY REUNION 68
- EDUCATION 60
- HEALTH 53
- POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 79
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE 70
- ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 63
- ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 77
Changes in context
Key Common Statistics
|Country of net migration since:||% Non-EU citizens||% Foreign-born||% Non-EU of foreign-born||% Non-EU university-educated||% from low or medium-developed (HDI) country|
|UN 2010 data in 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013|
Changes in policy
Immigrants will benefit from greater support to promote their integration in several areas of life, as FI followed international reform trends on labour market mobility (+7), access to nationality (+6) and anti-discrimination (+4). Based on well-evaluated practices in FI and new initiatives in SE, newcomers use individualised integration plans to obtain effective training and subsidised work experience in order to find their way on the labour market. They enjoy a quick, clear and well-supported path to citizenship after 5 years, as is common in MIPEX countries. Potential victims of discrimination should be able to access justice and support equally on all grounds and in all areas of life. All these reforms should have some direct or indirect benefits for integration in the labour market and other areas too. Overall these new achievements in FI's integration policies have risen a notable +2 points on the MIPEX scale. Following these improvements, immigration and integration have not been a major priority in recent elections.
Conclusions and recommendations
Finland remains a country with slightly favourable policies on equal opportunities for immigrants, ranking 4th overall and similar to CA, NO, NZ, PT and SE. So far, FI has maintained its investment in integration and its traditionally inclusive democracy as in other Nordic countries (e.g. NO, SE and recent improvements in DK). FI and immigrant volunteers are also actively promoting integration in many areas of life through NGO actions, often government-funded. These policies seem to reach many of the concerned immigrant adults and children who are able to benefit, for example, from family reunion, training and citizenship. A culture of piloting and evaluations has developed effective integration support in several areas, including employment. Further data, evaluations and pilots can make these integration policies even more effective in practice.
Policy Recommendations from the Institute of Migration
- Increase number of non-EU-born adults and youth obtaining FI professional and higher education degrees
- Increase non-EU-born’s uptake of work-based training and apprenticeships in the public and private sector across FI regions
- Speed up Finnish/Swedish learning through language courses that are better adapted to different skill levels and available both in urban and rural settings
- Remedy inequalities in health, education and job over-qualification for immigrants from diverse linguistic backgrounds
- Recognise immigrants’ contributions to the economy, entrepreneurship, cultural and other inputs to FI
- Develop integration strategies for different vulnerable groups, e.g. foster home system for unaccompanied refugee children
POLICIES - SUMMARY
LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY
- 6 of 38
- 9 of 38
- 8 of 38
- 12 of 38
- 3 of 38
- 6 of 38
ACCESS TO NATIONALITY
- 10 of 38
- 11 of 38
POLICIES - DETAILS
Labour Market Mobility
FI is effectively working to speed up labour market integration over time; only a few gaps in meeting the often greater needs of high-educated immigrants
How many immigrants could be employed?
According to 2011/2 estimates, around 30% of working-age non-EU citizens in FI are not in employment, education or training. The level is similar for high and low-educated men and high-educated women. This level is average in Europe and just slightly higher than the other Nordic countries (1/4 in DK, NO and SE). The level for low-educated women is slightly higher (44%) in FI as in most European countries. These levels also vary by nationality and reason for migration.
Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?
In order to become self-sufficient, non-EU residents now benefit from generally favourable support to address their specific challenges finding the right job and training in FI. Authorities in FI, as in leading Nordics and Western European countries, have been working to address this common area of weakness. Since the big start of FI's individual integration plans in 2011, newcomers are individually assessed, advised and supported to pursue any necessary language and vocational training for the FI labour market through individual integration plans. Specific paths are designed for groups such as youth and women in need of special support to overcome job and training obstacles. These plans built on well-evaluated projects in FI and new ideas from other Nordic and immigration countries. These policies now rank 6th, alongside countries such as CA & DK. Further evaluations and pilots can test these and other options for training, grants, employment services/experience and the recognition of qualifications. These options exist in other countries with higher-scoring policies, such as DE, NO, PT and SE.
Dimension 1: Access to labour market
- Non-EU residents generally have the same rights to find and change jobs and sectors as FI citizens can
- FI does not delay labour market access, making integration a priority from day one (similar approach in other Nordic countries, CA/US and Southern Europe)
- Not all temporary migrants with the right to work can change jobs and sectors as Finns can. All residents can work in all economic sectors, but public sector language requirements may disproportionately exclude the foreign-born (see 2005 Irish Garda policy on Irish language)
Dimension 2: Access to general support
- Most non-EU immigrants can benefit from general support to recognise and improve their professional qualifications and skills
- Unemployed immigrants and at-risk groups have the right to a qualification demonstrating their competences to employers (CBQs, strengthened in 2007)
- Equal access to training and study grants for family migrants and permanent residents
- Newcomer labour migrants must wait to access vocational training and study grants in the same way as FI citizens
- Potential gaps and difficulties to recognise the academic and professional non-EU qualifications
- More expansive policies in other Northern and Southern European countries, CA, EE
Dimension 3: Targeted support
- Since 2011, individual integration plans provide non-EU newcomers with individual assessments, information, job-specific language skills and FI work experience (as in other Nordic countries, DE, see also bridging programmes in AU/CA/NZ)
- More could be done to facilitate the recognition of non-EU qualifications for the foreign-educated (see AU/NZ, DE, NL, UK)
Dimension 4: Workers' rights
- FI citizens and non-EU workers have generally equal rights as workers, with limits for labour migrants' access to social security and housing
Following the 1386/2010 Act, immigrants are initially assessed about their employment, education and language skills. This assessment is used to draw up an individual integration plan by the municipality or employment/economic development office. The plan provides for the appropriate training, including vocational adult education. Immigrants are also provided appropriate advice and orientation to the measures and services relevant for their integration and working life.
Are immigrants acquiring new skills?
Participation in adult education and training is significant and equitable for non-EU men and women in FI and the other Nordic countries (around 1/3 in 2011/2). Furthermorer according to rough estimates, most unemployed eligible non-EU citizens can count on the support of unemployment benefits to find a new job.
What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?
- Comparatively high employment rates (≥70%)
- Flexible employment protection legislation
- Important share of recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits
- Very limited exposure to Finnish is possible before migration
- Few non-EU immigrants obtain a degree in FI
Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?
Labour market integration seems to be progressing over time, especially for low-educated non-EU immigrants. Among working-age long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay), the majority have a job, though employment levels are slightly lower for low-educated women, both among non-immigrants (around 48% in 2011/2) and the non-EU-born (42%). The gap emerges for high-educated non-EU men and women who, even after 10+ years in FI, are an estimated 15% less likely to be employed than the high-educated FI-born. Even when they find jobs, 33% of these men and women end up in jobs below their university qualifications. This 'brain waste' is 50% more likely for non-EU high-educated working women and 2x as likely for men, in comparison to FI-born high-educated workers. International research and FI evaluations suggest that FI's recent introduction plan and further support for the high-educated could increase employment rates and quality by facilitating the recognition of foreign degrees and the acquisition of domestic FI degrees, professional experience and networks in addition to its current policies on permanent residence and citizenship.
What do we learn from robust studies?
A robust 2012 impact evaluation found that FI's integration programme provides a high return on investment by boosting immigrants' employment rates and reducing their need for social support (Sarvimäki and Hämäläinen 2012). The programme is successful and adaptable to different contexts by providing an individualised package of free language training, specific vocational training and subsidised work placements, which are selected based on each immigrant's professional skills and experience.
Non-EU families often able to reunite in FI under equitable though demanding conditions; a few obstacles emerge in terms of definitions, fees, procedures and the path to autonomous residence
How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?
The number of non-EU residents separated from their spouse and their family is unknown in FI and other Nordic countries. Estimates from 17 other European countries suggest that the number is limited, with 5-7% of married/partnered non-EU adults not living with their spouse or partner.
How easily can immigrants reunite with family?
Non-EU families have legal right to family reunion that is just slightly favourable for their and their families' integration, as in most Western European countries. The path to family reunion is similar to AU/NZ and several new destinations (HR, EE, RO), slightly easier than in NO but far below the facilitations in SE. Most temporary residents can reunite quickly with their spouse/partner and minor children if they can pay the high fee and the generally high minimum cost of living in FI. Refugees may face slightly greater obstacles in the law and procedure following the 549/2010 Amendments to the Aliens Act.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Definitions only halfway favourable for families (FI ranks 21st out of 38, alongside NO)
- Most non-EU residents with temporary permits of ≥1 year can apply for spouse or registered/long-term partner and minor children, as in nearly all countries
- Adult children and parents/grandparents can only reunite for humanitarian reasons (see broader entitlements in 25 of the 38 MIPEX countries)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Equal treatment is generally the standard for the conditions for family reunion in FI, SE, JP/KR, Southern Europe and traditional countries of immigration
- Only basic legal income required by FI and EU law
- Non-EU sponsors (also refugees in cases of family formation) must have a basic legal source of income that meets their and their family's needs based on general social standards in FI
- These basic levels may seem comparatively high for a newcomer in FI or compared to most European countries
- FI's fees are higher than in NO and SE and can be disproportionately burdensome for vulnerable groups
Dimension 3: Security of status
- A decision should not take too long or ignore the family's individual circumstances and needs, as required by EU law
- Still, the procedure itself may also contain a few obstacles for families to reunite in FI as in most countries
Dimension 4: Rights associated
- Families have equal rights to work, study and take needs-based introduction programmes, as in most countries
- The long path to autonomous residence is the major weakness in FI as in most countries as well
- Access facilitated for only families with 'solid ties' to FI and particularly difficult circumstances (see greater legal facilitation in 11 countries, including NO, SE)
Are families reuniting?
Finland is not a major country of family reunion compared to other European countries. 5,422 family members joined non-EU sponsors in FI in 2013, which is constant with numbers since 2008. These numbers are similar to AT or GR and far below the numbers in NO, SE and even DK. Looking at the annual statistics, over half of those affected by the FI legislation are children. Besides spouses and children, very few other family members reunite with a non-EU sponsor in FI (making up around 5-6% of reunions from 2008-2010 but only 60 or 1% in 2013). These newcomer families are very diverse, coming from all over the globe. For example, RU families make up only 1/4 of reuniting families. The other major nationalities, IN, SO, CN, IQ, only number between 200-700 family members per year, while other nationalities number less than 200 per year.
What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?
- Many newcomers recently settling down with family in FI as in other Nordic countries
- Humanitarian migrants likely to stay and need family reunion
- Short-term residents like international students may be less likely to reunite
- Around half from developed/neighbouring countries and thus less likely to reunite
How often do immigrants reunite with family?
Non-EU families are generally able to reunite together in FI. The rate has been stable (around 4.5 newcomer family migrants for every 100 non-EU residents in the FI population since 2009). Non-EU family reunion is less likely in FI than in NO (5.5-7 from 2011-3) and SE (10-11 from 2011-3), but more likely than in previously restrictive DK (rising to 2.7 in 2013) or the average Western European country (3.1).
Family reunion is also more equitable for most nationalities in countries such as FI and NO than in more restrictive countries, such as DK. Citizens of CN, IQ, RU, UA, US are just as likely to reunite in FI, with higher rates for certain nationalities, such as IN and SO.
International comparisons suggest that family reunion is more common and more equitable in countries with more inclusive policies. Making policies more restrictive, selective or discretionary can significantly delay or deter both family's reunion and their integration in the country, especially for vulnerable groups.
FI's slightly favourable targeted policies are reaching and helping immigrant pupils; piloting new ideas could make FI a world-leader on social integration and mobility not only for FI pupils, but also for immigrant pupils
How many pupils have immigrant parents?
As a relatively new country of immigration, FI has a relatively low number of immigrant pupils in its schools. According to 2012 PISA data, only an estimated 1.9% of 15-year-old-pupils are 1st generation (EU- or non-EU-born) and 1.95% are 2nd generation. Given FI's situation, the need for targeted support is greater in FI than in most other developed countries, as hardly any speak the school's language at home with their parents (an estimated 1/5 in 2012, similar to the situation in AT, IS, LU).
Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?
- The FI education system has just slightly favourable policies to target immigrant pupils' needs and opportunities to achieve at school
- Education policies are slow to adapt and generally weak across the developed world, even in high-ranking Nordic and Northern European countries like FI (slightly more favourable approaches in AU, CA, NZ, NO)
- The 1386/2010 Integration Act reinforced the support for immigrants pupils over the age of compulsory education, in terms of FI/SE courses, basic literacy skills, vocational training as well as soft labour market, social and life skills
Dimension 1: Access
- More effort in FI to help immigrant pupils' access entire education system, though gaps emerge in FI and most countries
- All pupils in the country, whatever their status, have an implicit right to their education, though weaker for undocumented pupils (see full inclusion in e.g. EE, FR, NL and stronger in SE and CH)
- From pre-school to university, pupils from migrant backgrounds have the right to language and additional support to access all levels of education
- Teachers are not specifically trained to assess what pupils learned abroad (see use of external experts in FR, LU); they can use some standards and tools to place the child in the right year and level.
- Measures to facilitate their participation include preparatory training for secondary school and additional language instruction for apprenticeships
- Similar facilities are available for university, where they also receive funding and have particular circumstances taken into account (see also other Nordics, AT, EE, CH)
Dimension 2: Targeting needs
- Immigrant pupils can benefit from the right mix of strong policies to target their specific needs in FI as in all other Nordic countries and traditional countries of immigration, though schools may still have issues of resources, implementation and effectiveness
- Schools receive extra financial and professional support to target these needs, orient new pupils/parents and provide high-quality language courses (as in 12 other MIPEX countries, e.g. AU, BE, CA, NO, NZ, SE, US)
- Greater pre- or in-service training could be required to increase all teachers' capacities (e.g. LU, NL, NO, few US states)
Dimension 3: New opportunities
- As in most countries, FI schools only go halfway to create a welcoming diverse environment for all pupils and parents
- A wide range of immigrant languages are taught as mother tongue options for immigrant pupils, but not as foreign language options for non-immigrant pupils (see approaches in other Nordics, AT, AU, CA, CH)
- Pupils may learn about cultural identity and internationalism, but not specifically the immigrant cultures in their local communities (see e.g. BE, NO, SE)
- Programmes like SPECIMA can be enlarged so that teachers better reflect the diversity in the classroom
- Challenges still to fight school segregation among native-born parents and reach out to immigrant parents, though some work done through home-school cooperation/interpreters
Dimension 4: Intercultural education
- As in most countries, schools in FI also receive slightly weak support to make intercultural education a reality in the classroom
- Intercultural education stands out better in school life in CA, NZ, NO, SE, UK
- “Cultural Identity and Internationalism" is a priority for all pupils across the curriculum, with some flexibility, training and funding available at schools' discretion
- Other countries make this a stronger priority through a stand-alone Citizenship or Human Rights course (e.g. UK) and common guidance, training and evaluations (AU, CA, LU, NZ, NO, UK)
Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?
Low-literacy immigrant pupils are more likely to benefit from extra out-of-school literacy courses in countries like FI, where these courses are generally available for all pupils and where targeted education policies are strong for immigrant pupils. According to 2012 PISA data, a slight majority of FI low-literacy pupils were enrolled in these literacy courses, as were 3/4 of 1st and 2nd generation pupils with low-literacy levels. These high levels of enrollment are similar in DK, SE and US and encouraging for immigrant pupils' long-term progress in the FI education system.
What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?
- Only 1/5 speak the school language at home with parents
- High % of GDP spent on education and relatively average student-teacher ratios and duration of compulsory education
How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?
Very few FI 15-year-olds are low-achievers on PISA math tests, even among pupils with low-educated mothers (17% in 2012, one of lowest among MIPEX countries). In comparison, FI has the widest gap between FI and 1st or 2nd generation pupils with low-educated mothers. The share of math low-achievers rises to 2/3 of 1st generation pupils with low-educated mothers (similar levels in DK/SE). Although this gap decreases by 1/3 from the 1st generation to the 2nd (41% are math low-achievers), this gap is still one of the largest internationally, alongside DK/NO and AT/DE/NL/CH (gap almost disappears between 1st/2nd generation in SE).
The links between these outcomes and general/targeted education policies are not yet clear. Immigrant pupils in FI certainly have a great need for support (both language and catch-up at school) and potentially encouraging levels of participation in these extra support measures. FI's targeted education policies may be too new, insufficient or poorly adapted to immigrant pupils' diversity of needs and abackgrounds.
FI health system now working to become equally accessible and responsive for migrants as for other patients
Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?
FI, like the average Western European country, only goes halfway to guarantee that the health system is as accessible and responsive for migrant patients as for other patients. Compared to other Western European countries, migrants' entitlements to healthcare in FI have similar strengths and weaknesses from a health perspective. Providers and patients are generally provided with the support they need so that services are accessible. FI's healthcare services and policies have also started to respond to migrant patients' specific health needs through interpreters, training and quality standards. As part of FI's aims to reduce inequalities and guarantee non-discriminatory care, future migrant health policies can learn and expand from the good practices and practitioners in migrant-rich areas, such as the Helsinki Global Clinic and Turku's Migrant Friendly Hospital and equity standards at the University Hospital.
Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE.
Dimension 1: Entitlements
- Entitlements offer only halfway coverage for all types of migrant patients (greater coverage in AT, FR, NO, SE, CH)
- Permanent or continuous legal migrants have equal coverage as FI nationals; for others, entitlements depend on their permit and country of origin (see instead BE, FR, DE, NL, SE and CH)
- Entitlements for adult asylum-seekers are limited to 'necessary care' from primary care services in reception centres, though with important exemptions for at-risk groups (see instead AT, FR and several others)
- Undocumented migrants have full access only in 'emergency situations' (in Helsinki, see the Global Clinic and recent decision on primary care services for pregnant women and minors; elsewhere see NL, SE, CH)
- For asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants, access to their entitlements will depend on discretionary decisions of what are 'necessary care' and 'emergency situations'
Dimension 2: Access policies
- Migrant patients enjoy slightly favourable information and support to access their entitlements in FI, ranking 6th out of the 38 (leader in Nordics, alongside IS, FR, IT, JP, CH, US)
- Legal migrants and asylum-seekers can get written and online information in many languages about their entitlements and key health issues like mental health, HIV, and FGM (e.g. www.infopankki.fi/en/living-in-finland/health)
- Service-providers and their employees are regularly informed about migrant patients' entitlements and not required to report undocumented migrants (no such reporting requirements in the majority of countries)
- Cultural mediators are only rarely available (see greater use in 18 countries)
Dimension 3: Responsive services
- Services have only started to respond to migrant patients' specific health needs in FI, as in most Nordic and Western European countries
- Some pre- and in-service training for doctors and nurses on treating migrant patients
- Standards set for care to be appropriate, non-discriminatory and high-quality for all patients regardless of background
- Free interpreters for those in need in major cities/areas
- Little effort to encourage immigrant residents to get involved or study/work in health services (see English-speaking countries)
Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change
- Weaker than on average in Western Europe with policies only catching up (as in AT and BE) stronger in NO/SE/DK
- Some data and increasing research studies can be used to develop missing migrant health policies
- 'Kaste' programme addresses inequalities in health and wellbeing, but so far little focus on migrant health
Voting rights, consultation and support for non-EU residents is critical to preserve the tradition of inclusive democracy in FI and other Nordic countries
Who are disenfranchised from voting?
FI's democracy formally includes most foreign adult residents. According to 2011/2 estimates, <5% of non-EU adult citizens are disenfranchised in local/regional elections. These estimates suggest that <0.1% of FI adult residents are disenfranchised, at least at local/regional level. This reflects the traditional Nordic approach to democracy, with similar levels of inclusion in DK and SE as well as in other countries with inclusive local voting rights, such as EE and NL.
Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?
Ranking 3rd after LU and NO, Finland’s approach to democracy favourably encourages immigrant residents to participate in the decisions that concern their daily lives. Newcomers enjoy basic political liberties and democratic inclusion in the town and region where they settle. Authorities further attempt to improve their integration policy and boost immigrants' civic and political participation by fostering immigrant civil society and consulting it through bodies that create rather positive environments for dialogue.
Dimension 1: Electoral rights
- Newcomers can vote and stand in local and regional elections (see similar voting rights in DK, IE, IS, NL, NO, SE, including even national voting rights in NZ)
Dimension 2: Political liberties
- As in all Western European countries, non-EU residents enjoy the same political liberties as FI citizens: joining a political party, forming community associations and creating new media
Dimension 3: Consultative bodies
- Migrants are consulted at national and regional levels as elected NGO participants in an Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO, see box)
- These bodies are generally weak across countries and slightly favourable for policy dialogue in FI: important for immigrants in local/regional bodies to elect themselves, lead as (co)chairs and represent the diversity of immigrant communities (e.g. gender, nationality, generation)
Dimension 4: Implementation policies
- FI, like most Western European countries, provide the necessary information and support for immigrant to participate in diverse ways, including to represent their own interests
- Newcomers are regularly informed by government and stakeholders of their political rights in FI, not only during elections (see similar policies in NL, Nordics, and NZ)
- Authorities at most levels support immigrant-run organisations
Finland scores 68 on consultative bodies, with ETNOs covering all regions for government consultation, immigrant NGO activities and public information. They also appoint ‘Goodwill Ambassadors’: influential persons working to make Finnish society more diverse and equal. The national ETNO provides a favourable model for local/regional authorities in FI and authorities in other countries. One of the vice chairs and minimum members in the national ETNO must represent migrant communities or ethnic minorities. Representatives are asked to nominate both genders and prioritise those with migrant/ethnic background. For further good practice, see BE (Flanders), DE (regional/local), DK and NO (local).
How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?
Local/regional voting rights are important for maintaining FI as an inclusive democracy. Since only around 40% of the non-EU-born have naturalised as FI citizens, local/regional voting rights give the possibility to vote to an estimated 95% of non-EU resident adults in FI, according to 2011/2 estimates. An important number of non-EU newcomers choose to use these rights. For example, 75337 non-EU citizens registered for 2012 local elections, with an 11% voter turnout rate. This rate was higher for non-EU citizens than it was for EU citizens (8.4%) or IS/NO citizens (0.2%). Over 680 foreign-language speakers were nominated as candidates, including large numbers from non-EU language groups: e.g. RU (172), AR (42), TU (38), KU (34), SO (29). More inclusive voting rights in FI and elsewhere lead to higher shares of enfranchised non-EU citizens. This early exposure to local democracy at work may boost non-EU citizens' civic and political engagement in FI over the long-term.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?
- 50% from highly developed countries
- Generally high levels of civic engagement in FI and Nordic countries Benelux, and English-speaking countries
- 2/3 long-settled in FI
- Sizeable number of humanitarian migrants in FI and Nordics likely to become civically active in long-term
Most non-EU residents enjoy a slightly clear and stable path to become permanent residents with more equal socio-economic opportunities to participate in FI society
Who can become long-term residents?
An estimated 2/3 of non-EU men and women have lived in FI long enough to become permanent residents, according to 2011/2 estimates. This level is typical of countries like FI with mostly newcomers (e.g. IE, NO, SE).
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
Most non-EU residents have a slightly clear and stable path to enjoy the security of permanent residence and better socio-economic opportunities to invest in their integration and participate in FI society. The path to become permanent residents in FI has been similar and stable over the years to the paths in several Western Europeaen countries, including all Nordic countries (DK, IS, NO, SE).
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Most—but not all—temporary residents have the right to become national permanent residents in FI after 4 years (aka. continuing permits, similar in other Nordic countries)
- Afterwards, they can become EU long-term residents after 5 years' total
- Limited access for international students (see instead DK/SE, JP/KR, CH, UK)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Eligible non-EU residents have a slightly clear and well-supported path to become permanent residents in FI, as in 12 other countries (DK, NO, SE and most Western European countries)
- Non-EU residents must prove their basic legal income and pay a basic fee: no more required in majority of countries
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Permanent and long-term residents are slightly secure in their status in FI as in the average Western European country
- Permanent secure status in FI as in 26 other countries
- 2 years' outside the EU allowed
- As in most countries, FI authorities retain discretion to refuse or withdraw a permit even after decades, although personal circumstances must usually be taken into account and there are grounds for an appeal
Dimension 4: Rights Associated
- Permanent and long-term residents can work, study and live with the same social and economic rights as citizens of FI, as in 29 other countries
What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?
- Around 1/8 with <1-year-permits potentially ineligible (international students and certain migrant workers)
- Around 2/3 with 5+ years' residence
- Slight majority are humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle in FI
- Slightly above-average naturalisation rates in FI, NO, SE
Access to Nationality
Clearer path to citizenship boosts naturalisation rate, with positive integration effects likely to follow
Who can become a citizen?
Around 60% of non-EU citizens in Finland have lived there long enough to qualify for naturalisation.
How easily can immigrants become citizens?
Thanks to the 579/2011 Nationality Act, naturalising immigrants now have a relatively clear, quick and encouraging path to citizenship, as in the majority of Western European countries. Following a 2007 Supreme Court decision recognising applicants' 'strong ties' to Finland, the 2011 Act made the procedure shorter and more flexible for applicants who can meet the legal requirements (see box).
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- The more flexible eligibility rules are now favourable and similar to most established countries of immigration in MIPEX
- Applicants can apply after 5 years, the most common waiting period, and count most of their years legally in the country.
- Children raised in Finland also benefit from an entitlement to citizenship since 2003, as in a growing number of countries (e.g. DK in 2013).
Dimension 2: Conditions
- On average, the conditions for naturalisation in Finland are as demanding as in most countries
- Applicants must be able to pay a relatively high fee (440€) and pass a high-level language test (B1), for which free language courses and exemptions are available
- No additional citizenship test or income requirement is imposed in Finland—or in around half the MIPEX countries
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Applicants enjoy slightly favourable procedures and protections
- Although immigrant adults do not enjoy a legal entitlement to citizenship or time limit for the procedure, they benefit from relatively strong judicial review and protections against citizenship withdrawal
Dimension 4: Dual nationality
- Following Sweden in 2001, Finland in 2003 opened to dual nationality and helped set the example for an increasing number of EU countries (most recently DK)
The 579/2011 Nationality Act aims to make naturalisation more flexible as a means to promote social cohesion and integration. Applicants can apply after 5 instead of 6 years, or after 4 years for fluent Finnish or Swedish speakers. Applicants can count all period with continuous permits (A-permits) and half the time on temporary permits (B-permits). The language requirement involves more flexible documentation and exemptions. The fee is slightly lower and processing times should be slightly faster.
How many immigrants are becoming citizens?
After passage of the 2011 Act, the total number of naturalisations has risen significantly compared to previous levels from 2003-11. In 2012, 7889 non-EU citizens became Finnish citizens.
What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?
- Mostly humanitarian or family migrants likely to naturalise
- Around half from highly developed countries and less likely to naturalise
How often do immigrants become citizens?
By 2012, 41% of non-EU-born adults have become Finnish citizens, which is relatively high for a new country of immigration. Finland's citizenship policies are the strongest factors determining its naturalisation rate. Non-EU immigrant men and women from developing countries are much more likely to become citizens in countries with inclusive citizenship policies. The naturalisation rate for non-EU citizen men and women was above EU average in Finland (6.9 in 2012) and similar to the rates in IS, NO, BE, PT and UK. Interestingly, these rates were lower-than-average in Finland for nationals of refugee-producing countries (e.g. Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq) than they were in other EU countries.
New comprehensive non-discrimination law, bodies and policies can further improve awareness of discrimination and access to justice for potential victims, including immigrants
Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?
Similar to the European average, around 4% of people in FI recently felt that they had been discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (2.5%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.7%), according to the latest comparable data from 2012.
Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?
Victims of discrimination will benefit from stronger laws and support to access justice, thanks to the December 2014 revision of the Non-Discrimination Act (+3 points on MIPEX). Potential victims on all grounds are equally protected in all areas of life by the new non-discrimination law, ombudsman and tribunal. FI's comprehensive law followed international reform trends. Still, potential victims may not pursue access to justice because FI's mechanisms to enforce the law are weaker than on average in Western Europe or traditional countries of immigration.
Dimension 1: Definitions
- All residents benefit from clearer definitions of discrimination in the 2014 revised Non-discrimination Act
- Wide range of private and public actors cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of their age, origin, nationality, language, belief, opinion, political activity, industrial activity, family ties, state of health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal reasons
- Cases of multiple discrimination or racial profiling are still hard to address under current law (instead see countries such as CA/US, UK)
Dimension 2: Fields of application
- Discrimination is prohibited on many grounds and in all areas of public life, as in 15 other MIPEX countries
Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms
- The mechanisms are halfway favourable to enforce the law in FI, below average for Western Europe
- As victims they can obtain legal aid to seek a range of sanctions via a choice of legal, administrative and alternative actions, and do not always carry the burden of proof
- However, they cannot rely on NGOs for support (unlike 15 countries) and must bring the case themselves, without class actions or actio popularis (unlike in 21 countries)
- The use of statistics and situation is not clearly allowed in court (see instead 13 other countries)
Dimension 4: Equality policies
- More potential victims of discrimination should receive slightly favourable support from the new Non-discrimination Ombudsman following the 2014 revision
- The new comprehensive Ombudsman (successor to Ombudsman for Minorities) can help and advise, victims on all grounds, lead its own investigations and issue statements
- New National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal can also issue binding and appealable decisions on all grounds of discrimination
- Still no powers for Ombudsman to act independently on victims' behalf (see 15 MIPEX countries, e.g. SE, FR, IE, UK)
- FI state is strongly committed to promoting equality in practice
- 2014 Act expands equality duties and plans from ethnicity to all discrimination grounds
- 2012 National action plan on fundamental and human rights strengthens all departments' targets and actions (67 separate projects)
The revision of the Non-Discrimination Act (21/2004) was begun in 2007 and eventually proposed and passed in 2014.
The reform aims to clearly guarantee the same level of protection in all areas of life against discrimination on an open-ended list of grounds. The law provides for the same protections against direct discrimination in all grounds under EU and FI law.
The only exceptions to differential treatment in public life must be necessary and proportionate for human rights.
All public authorities and employers with >30 workers must create a plan to promote equality on all grounds. All grounds are also covered by the new Ombudsman and Discrimination and Equality Tribunal.
How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?
Statistics on discrimination cases by ground and field are not yet published in FI.
What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases
- 70% of public in 2012 knew their rights as discrimination victims (highest level of public awareness in EU) as well as a majority of surveyed immigrants (EU-MIDIS 2008)
- High levels of trust in police and justice system
- Sizeable number of newcomers in this relatively new country of immigration
- The majority of non-EU immigrants are not naturalised and thus potentially less likely to report discrimination
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