Asylum seekers in Finland have some benefits that other countries do not offer them. For instance, they might get financial support from the state to afford the unavoidable basic needs while the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) processes their applications.
This money, whose amount may vary depending on the age and other personal circumstances of each claimant, is called the Reception Allowance. The beneficiaries of this aid can receive it every month in cash or it can also be recharged on their prepaid cards.
The Reception Allowance is granted to the customers of the Finnish Immigration Service by the reception centres where asylum seekers are transferred to after arriving in the country and request protection. It is at those reception centres where all the information about this allowance is given to them and where they must apply for this benefit.
The Finnish state is who makes the payments. To calculate the amount that corresponds to each applicant, Migri takes into account all other incomes that s/he may have as salaries, assets or any other sources. The more subsistence means that an applicant can accredit, the lower the amount received will be.
In the case of families, the funds, salaries, financial means and other assets of the spouses also affect the final amount of the Reception Allowance. This is why all asylum applicants are requested to inform their reception centre about any source of income that the family has.
Children who have arrived in Finland without a guardian and demand asylum also get financial support. The sum created for them is called Spending Money and is smaller than those got from adults and families.
If an asylum seeker can prove that s/he or her/his family has special needs that require extra funds, they can also apply a supplementary Reception Allowance, which might be granted after analysing her/his particular case.
The Reception Allowance may be given to the customers of the Finnish Immigration Service in cash, but normally is uploaded to a prepaid card (a Moni or a PFS card).
The system of prepaid cards was introduced in 2015 by the Finnish state to overcome one of the main obstacles that face the people seeking refuge: without identification papers they have to wait long before getting residence permits, and in the meantime they cannot run a bank account. And without access to banking services, it was impossible for them until these cards were introduced to receive salaries, grants or pay their bills electronically.
The final amounts
The final amount of the reception allowance also depends on the type of centre where the applicant lives.
According to the information published at Migri’s web page, there are basically two kind: reception centres with catering (where meals are offered to everyone who lives there) and reception centres with individual or shared kitchens (the asylum seekers have to take care and cook their own meals). If the expenses derived from food are covered, the amount received will be lower. Depending on that, the basic components of these grants from January 1st 2018 have been set as follows:
Any asylum seeker who loses her/his prepaid card must contact the reception centre. In case of finding a prepaid card granted by the Finnish Immigration Service, it must be sent or delivered to Migri’s nearest service point.
If you want more information about asylum and about the refugees' living conditions in Finland, you can find it HERE