Concessions of Finnish citizenship fell by 24% in 2018
More immigrants applied for a residence permit based on work or studies last year
During the year 2018, Finnish Immigration authorities received a total of 11,676 citizenship applications. This is 9% more than the 10,704 submitted in 2017. Russian citizens are one year more the largest group of applicants. Somalis and Iraqis are among the other main groups.
These figures have been extracted from the annual statistics published by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). According to the numbers summarised on this report, despite the increase in the number of applications, last year Finnish citizenship was granted to 9,610 individuals, this is 24% less compared to the 12,600 that received this condition in 2017.
In 2018 they were also recorded 1,019 citizenship declarations. This is a faster and cheaper way to obtain the citizenship that is only available to certain groups, such as former Finnish citizens, children born to Finnish men abroad and out of wedlock, adopted children and Nordic citizens, among others.
Migri disassociates the decrease in the number of citizenship concessions of any type of intentionality. “The larger number of decisions in 2017 was due to a backlog from earlier years being cleared”, explains on its website.
The statistic also showed a slight increase in applications by citizens of the United Kingdom. In a year in which Brexit dominated the European political agenda, 230 citizens of the United Kingdom applied for Finnish Citizenship, which is a notable increase compared to the 201 applications submitted in 2017 and 99 in 2016.
Migri’s annual statistics also show that during 2018 more and more immigrants applied for a residence permit last year based on work or studies.
According to the figures provided by the report, the number of work-based residence permit applications increased clearly compared to last year. In total, 10,762 first residence permit applications were submitted based on work. This is 24.4% more than the 8,650 received in 2017.
In Finland there exist several kinds of work-based residence permits. Specialists and entrepreneurs for instance, have their own permits. The number of applications increased in almost all of these permit types.
The growth is partially explained by the fact that new permit types, such as a seasonal work permits, were introduced in 2018. In addition, startup entrepreneurship became grounds for applying for a work permit last year. In addition to residence permits, 6,783 seasonal work certificates intended for seasonal work lasting less than three months were granted.
The number of residence permit applications submitted by international students also increased last year. The largest number of applicants came from China and Russia.
In total, 6,280 persons applied for their first student residence permit, 11% more than the 5,646 recorded in 2017. The Finnish Immigration Service admits that the lower number of applications last year was most likely affected by the introduction of tuition fees for university students from outside the EU in the autumn of 2017.
In all, the number of residence permit applications in 2018 remained at the same level as in 2017. A total of 65,508 persons applied for a residence permit, a number which is quite similar to the 65,167 recorded in 2017.
Registration of EU citizens
The number of registrations of EU citizens increased clearly last year. There were 8,749 people registered, while in 2017 there were 7,800 people (there is a 12% increase).
A citizen of the EU, Liechtenstein or Switzerland does not require a residence permit for Finland. However, the right of residence must be registered for a stay of more than three months in Finland. Estonians were clearly the largest group to be registered.
Half of the asylum applications are re-applications
The number of asylum seekers arriving was much lower than before the record year 2015, when more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. Before 2015, the number of applicants remained relatively stable at 3,000–4 000 applicants per year.
In 2018, a total of 4,548 asylum applications were submitted, almost 10% less than the 5,046 submitted one year before. There were 2,409 first asylum applications and 2,139 re-applications registered. The largest group of re-applications came from Iraqis.
According to Migri, a re-application is “an application concerning international protection submitted by a person after receiving a legally valid decision concerning a previous application”. A common reason for re-application is that the applicant states new grounds that had not emerged before. The most typical new grounds provided are the applicant having converted to Christianity in Finland or that they are members of a sexual or gender minority.
After Iraqis, the largest citizenship groups among asylum seekers were Russians and Somalis. Russians became the second-largest group of applicants during last year. A large number of the Russian asylum seekers were Jehovah’s Witnesses and North Caucasians.
43% of the decisions made in 2018 were positive (40% in 2017). The share of negative decisions was 31% (42% in 2017). These numbers also include decisions concerning re-applications. The rest of the applications were dismissed after a preliminary investigation (20%) or expired (6%).