FINNISH IMMIGRATION SERVICE

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1 FINNISH IMMIGRATION SERVICE From immigration to citizenship a leading expert, partner and service specialist

2 Organisation Director General Leading immigration expert Other authorities handling immigration issues Border Guard border checks visas asylum investigation: investigating identity, travel route and means of entry into Finland Management Support Communications Substance units Immigration Asylum Reception Citizenship Support units Customer Relations and Communications Administration and Development Services Legal Service and Country Information e-services (Migri) is a government agency under the Ministry of the Interior, which implements the Finnish immigration policy and provides information services to support political decisionmaking and for national and international cooperation. It started operations under the name Directorate of Immigration on 1 March The name was changed to the Finnish Immigration Service on 1 January The Immigration Service operates in several locations, and it has approximately 300 employees. The values of the Finnish Immigration Service include openness, competence and justice. Duties of the Finnish Immigration Service issuing residence permits for foreigners arriving in Finland processing asylum applications from interviews to decisions dealing with citizenship applications, declarations and clarifications planning and monitoring the operation of the reception centres issuing alien s passports and refugee travel documents refusals of entry and deportations providing information services for decision-makers and authorities, including international requirements managing international cooperation maintaining the Register of Aliens Permit issues are handled electronically The authorities in the immigration administration handle immigration affairs via UMA, the electronic case management system for immigration matters. Customers can also submit most of their applications electronically. Via e-services, customers can supplement their applications, follow the progress of their processing, and receive a notification when the decision has been made. Parliament Ministry for Foreign Affairs Ministry of Justice Local Register Offices Ministry of the Interior Ministry of Employment and the Economy Parliament legislation Finnish Embassies receiving residence permit applications and interviewing the applicants, if necessary visas Administrative Courts and the Supreme Administrative Court appeals against decisions legal protection Local Register Offices registering citizens of Nordic countries Ministry of the Interior Migri Embassies Courts of Law Border Guard Police Employment and Economic Development Offices and ELY Centres immigration administration and migration policy developing immigration legislation refusal of entry at the border proposals for deportation Police receiving residence permit applications continuation of residence permits and granting permanent residence permits asylum investigation: investigating identity, travel route and means of entry into Finland proposals for deportation travel documents decisions on refusal of entry handling the deportations and refusals of entry in practice residence permits for family members of Finnish citizens residing in Finland rights of residence of citizens of EU and EEA countries as well as Switzerland and their family members Employment and Economic Development Offices and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY centres) consideration of workforce needs: is there a need for foreign workforce in the field of application in Finland (employee s residence permit)? prerequisites for self-employment (residence permit for a self-employed person) placement of quota refugees and asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit into municipalities integration

3 Expert in residence permit issues Citizens of countries outside the EU and EEA and citizens of Switzerland need a residence permit to stay in Finland for longer than three months. processes over 20,000 residence permit applications annually. Some of the applicants come to Finland to work or study, some move in with a family member living in Finland, and some are returnees. Decisions are based on the Aliens Act The application for the first residence permit must normally be submitted to a Finnish embassy before arrival in Finland. Most permit applications can be submitted electronically, which allows the application to move electronically from one authority to another faster than an application on paper. Different types of clarification are attached to the application depending on the type of residence permit. For example, students must attach a certificate of a study place to their applications. After the application arrives at the Finnish Immigration Service, it is processed by experts at the Immigration Unit. They investigate whether the permit requirements are fulfilled and, if necessary, request more information from the applicant. A residence permit card is a sign of a permit that has been granted The customer receives a residence permit card as a sign of receiving the permit. A person with a residence permit can live and travel freely in Finland while the permit is valid. They are also allowed to travel outside of Finland and to return. Refusal of entry and deportation also makes decisions on deporting people from Finland. If a residence permit is not granted to an applicant staying in Finland, the applicant receives a decision on refusal of entry with the permit decision. This means that the applicant must leave Finland within a certain period of time. It is also possible to make a decision on the expulsion of a person who has already received a residence permit; this is called deportation. can also impose a prohibition of entry into Finland or the whole Schengen area together with the decision on refusal of entry or deportation. The prohibition is imposed e.g. when a person is considered a danger to public order or security for reasons such as criminal activity. Statistics and interpretations of law The experts at the Immigration Unit specialise in handling issues related to Finnish residence permits, and they provide information, statements and training to decision-makers, other authorities and the media, for example. There is also cooperation on an international level. A residence permit is needed when a person coming from countries outside the EU and EEA or Switzerland stays in Finland for longer than three months. Citizens of certain countries need a visa granted by a Finnish embassy for a stay of less than three months. Most residence permit applications are submitted by people moving in with a family member in Finland. The next largest group of applicants are people intending to work or study in Finland.

4 Applying for asylum 1. The asylum seeker arrives at Finland 2. Asylum application submitted to a border guard or a police officer 3. Moving into a reception centre 4. The police or Border Guard investigates the identity and travel route 5. Asylum interview by the Finnish Immigration Service 6. Decision on the application by the Finnish Immigration Service 7. An appeal against the decision can be made to the Administrative Court of Helsinki, after which it is possible to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court An asylum seeker is a person applying for protection and right of residence in another state. An asylum seeker is granted refugee status if the person is granted asylum. Before that the asylum seeker is not a refugee, because the refugee status has not yet been determined. Safety and protection for those in need Finland offers help for people who need protection when they are subjected to serious violations of human rights in their country of residence. Applications for international protection are handled by the Asylum Unit of the Finnish Immigration Service. Asylum applications can be made by individuals who have had to leave their home country of residence because they cannot resort to the protection of the authorities of their home country and they fear being persecuted there due to their origin religion nationality membership in a certain social group or political opinions. It is only possible to apply for asylum in Finland while within the territory of the state of Finland. From interview to decision The Asylum Unit s experts investigate thousands of asylum applications annually. The applicant s situation is investigated through a personal interview, for example. In addition, the employee of the Immigration Service uses the Tellus database for country of origin information and other reports on the applicant s home country and its human rights conditions. Operative management of reception centres While waiting for a decision, asylum seekers live at reception centres managed by the Finnish Immigration Service. While staying at reception centres, asylum seekers receive necessary everyday equipment and if necessary, social welfare and health care services, interpretation services, financial support and legal aid. is responsible for ensuring that the accommodation capacity at the reception centres is appropriate for the number of asylum seekers. The expert on asylum issues constantly monitors the situation in the countries of origin and the development of asylum issues. Essential elements of the work are legal reports and statements, different types of instructions and policies, monitoring and analysing the legal practice, as well as training and statistics. The Immigration Service also provides general advice in asylum issues. The experts of the Finnish Immigration Service select the persons admitted into Finland under the refugee quota. Quota refugees are people who have left their country of permanent residence for another country, where they may not settle permanently; instead, they live in a refugee camp, for example. They have been classified as refugees by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), and they are selected from areas chosen by the Finnish government each year.

5 Citizenship is a commitment to society In Finland, a person may have two or more citizenships. This is called multiple nationality or colloquially, dual nationality. The Nationality Unit of the Finnish Immigration Service makes the decisions on obtaining, losing or retaining Finnish citizenship. A Finnish citizenship can be acquired by application or declaration on the basis of birth or the citizenship of the parents. Adult foreigners living in Finland and minors under their care must submit an application for citizenship. Only certain groups of people, such as former Finnish citizens and adopted children of a Finnish citizen, can make a Finnish citizenship declaration. If necessary, the Immigration Service can also determine the citizenship of a person. Requirements of the Nationality Act When making the decision on naturalisation, the citizenship experts determine whether the applicant fulfils the requirements of the Nationality Act. Issues to be investigated include, among other things, period of residence in Finland, sufficient language skills, and a secure income in Finland. The experts will also determine whether there are any obstacles for granting a citizenship, such as crimes committed or unpaid taxes, fines or other payments. A part of society As a Finnish citizen, the foreigner becomes a member of society in full standing. Citizenship brings rights and obligations, which make it possible to participate fully in the country s political, social, economic and cultural life. For example, a Finnish citizen cannot be stopped from entering Finland, deported from Finland, or extradited or transferred to another country against that person s will. Education and dissemination of information One important task of the Immigration Service s experts is providing information to support political decision-making and for national and international cooperation. The Nationality Unit is in close cooperation with authorities and other organisations working on citizenship issues and provides them with training, among other things. The basic requirement for obtaining Finnish citizenship is that the applicant s identity has been established beyond doubt. Other requirements for obtaining citizenship will not be examined before the applicant s identity has been sufficiently established.

6 Supporting the customer European Migration Network serves its customers via Internet and telephone and at service points. The Immigration Service s website is one of our most important customer service channels. Customers around the world can read about submitting applications and follow their processing times at any time of the day. The site has hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The Immigration Service serves its customers in Finnish, Swedish and English. Submitting an application online With e-services, customers can fill in most of the application forms on their own computer whenever it is most convenient for them. The processing of the application can be followed via the service without needing to queue on the telephone or at an information point. The Finnish national contact point for the European Migration Network (EMN) is located at the Finnish Immigration Service. Similar national contact points exist in all EU countries as well as in Norway. The network is chaired by the EU Commission. The EMN s task is to support policymaking in the EU by providing up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on immigration and asylum issues. In addition to politicians and government officials, information is also disseminated to the general public. EMN s main products are annual reports on the development of immigration policy in the EU countries, and various thematic reviews on topical migration themes. Reliable information on the country of origin The Country Information Service of the Finnish Immigration Service produces country of origin information (COI), especially on countries from which asylum seekers, quota refugees and immigrants come to Finland. Country of origin information means up-to-date, accurate information on the conditions in a country, from its human rights situation to matters related to its everyday life. Information to support decisions Country of origin information is used to support decision-making particularly with regard to decisions regarding asylum applications, but also in investigating issues related to residence permits and citizenship. In addition to the needs of the Finnish Immigration Service, information is provided for domestic and international authorities, stakeholders and organisations. The information is stored in the Tellus database for country of origin information for the use of the authorities. Migration Library The Migration Library is a special library under the Finnish Immigration Service that is open to the public. The library has literature on immigrants and phenomena closely related to migration, as well as information on the conditions of countries of origin. Other main topics include refugee and immigration policy, racism and ethnic relations, other issues associated with refugee status, and integration of immigrants. Lectures and discussions are also organised at the library. The Immigration Service s Country Information Researchers and external experts give lectures on current affairs. migri.fi/migration_library EN

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