Sunday 31.05.2020

Government considering granting residence permits to asylum seekers who have jobs

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo thinks it is appropriate to consider whether those who have found a work place, become taxpayers and created a network of social relationships while waiting for Migri's decision can obtain a residence permit based on work.

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo. Photo: Laura Kotila/Finnish Government.
Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo. Photo: Laura Kotila/Finnish Government.

The Finnish government led by the socialist Antti Rinne (SDP) is exploring every possible way to fulfill his electoral commitment to create 60,000 jobs in this legislature and reach an occupancy rate of 75%. And in order to achieve this goal every job counts, even those performed by people who do not yet have the permission to reside in the country granted.

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Green Party) has admitted that among the measures being explored by the Government is the possibility of not deporting people who are in Finland pending a decision on their asylum request and have found a steady job.

This initiative was proposed by the Center Party (Keskusta). If it goes ahead and is finally approved, asylum seekers would be allowed to stay in Finland under certain conditions, even if in the end the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) on their asylum request was negative. In those cases, the rejected would still have a chance to obtain a work-based residence permit.

No shortcuts

According to statements by the Interior Minister published by the newspaper Iltasanomat, the Government´s intention is not to create "any kind of shortcut" to obtain residence permits. However, Ohisalo said it is "in everyone´s interest" that those who have found their place in the Finnish work market and in the society are not returned to their home countries.

For example, the Government has known from Finnish entrepreneurs about many cases of employed asylum seekers who have learned the language, become taxpayers and created a network of social relationships in their communities while waiting for the decision of the Immigration authority. "It may be appropriate to consider whether they can obtain a residence permit based on work", she said.

The possible approval of this legal change was also reported by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). According to the news service, "the Government has recommended in its official four-year agenda that asylum seekers who have secured a steady job in Finland should be granted a residence permit". Ohisalo, who appeared on an interview on Yle's Ykkösaamu programme, said on Saturday that "Finland should rethink whether it wants to be deporting people who have integrated and found work".

"Careful preparation needed"

Markus Lohi, from the Center Party also said to Iltasanomat that residence permits based on work would be "only for those who have already entered the labour market under normal conditions during the asylum process". "We do not want to create a bypass for work permits, therefore careful preparation is necessary", he remarked.

According to the current Finnish law, an asylum seeker can enter paid employment within three or six months after having applied for asylum in Finland, depending on his circumstances.

The waiting period is three months if the asylum seeker has presented a valid passport or other travel document to the authorities, and it has been verified as genuine. The waiting period is six months if the asylum seeker has not shown any valid travel document.

An asylum seeker’s right to work terminates when a decision rejecting his asylum application becomes enforceable, for example when he may be removed from the country, or when the decision acquires legal force and can no longer be appealed.

As of 1 September 2019, employers who want to be sure that the asylum seekers among their staff have the right to work must request a certificate from Migri.