Decreasing number of asylum seekers in 2019
Most of the new asylum seekers last year arrived from Turkey and Russia. Most Turks said they are members of the Gülen movement, considered as a terrorist organization by the Ankara Government. Among Russian applicants, there is a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses. The asylum seekers who arrived in autumn 2015 can now apply for Finnish citizenship or a permanent residence permit.
According to Migri's latest statistics, in 2019 a total of 4,550 asylum applications were submitted last year, of which 2,467 were by new asylum seekers.
Before 2015, when more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland, the number of applicants was quite stable, numbering 3,000-4,000 people per year.
Changes have also taken place in the asylum seekers’ countries of origin. Most of the new asylum seekers last year arrived from Turkey and Russia.
"Most of the Turkish applicants referred to the real or assumed membership in the Gülen movement and the resulting threat imposed on them. A large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses have arrived from Russia in the last few years, but there were many kinds of application criteria last year," says Antti Lehtinen, Director of the Asylum Unit.
The Gülen movement was created by the Turkish theologian Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania (US). In 2016 it was designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish Government, who accused its members of organizing the failed coup attempt.
Autumn 2015 effect still shown in figures
Of the asylum applications submitted last year, 2,083 were re-applications. A re-application is an asylum application submitted by an asylum seeker after having received a legal decision for at least one of their asylum applications.
"Iraqis still show as the largest application group in statistics, though the number of new asylum seekers from Iraq is now relatively small," says Lehtinen.
The asylum seekers who arrived in Finland in autumn 2015 and received international protection can now apply for Finnish citizenship or a permanent residence permit. The residence period obligation for an asylum seeker receiving international protection is four years in both cases.
"In particular, the number of citizenship applications submitted by the Iraqis is clearly increasing. A total of 1,588 Iraqi citizens applied for Finnish citizenship in 2019, as compared with 972 in 2018,’ says Heikki Taskinen, Director of the Nationality Unit.
Last year, Finnish citizenship was granted to a total of 10,062 individuals. The corresponding number in 2018 was 9,610.
3,248 Iraqi citizens applied for a permanent residence permit (735 in 2018). A permanent residence permit was applied for 11,699 times (8,593 in 2018).