In 2018, Finland granted 22,508 first residence permits to foreigners coming from outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Of them, 6,485 (or 28.8% of the total) were granted to citizens coming from three countries: Russia (2,428), Iraq (2,057) and India (2,000).
The analysis of the latest data published by the EU Statistical Office (Eurostat) on concessions of first residence permits shows that Finland granted only 0.69% of the total 3,225,436 first residence permits issued by the 28 EU member states last year.
Finland's figures are far from those of neighboring Sweden, which in the same period granted 124,616 first residence permits (five and half times more), being Syrian citizens (15,945), Afghans (11,313) and Indians (11,300) the main beneficiaries.
Overall, the 28 EU countries issued on average 6.3 first residence permits per 1,000 inhabitants. Finland remained below the EU average, with 4.1 permits granted per 1,000 inhabitants. Below this average were also Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Holland, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia.
The main grounds
According to Eurostat, last year the main reasons for Finnish authorities granting residence permits were family reasons (8,750 cases or 38.9%), education (5,090 cases or 22.6%) and employment (5,705 cases or 25.3%).
The remaining 13.2% (2,963 first residence permits) were granted in Finland for "other reasons", among which asylum and other forms of international protection are included.
The countries that granted the most residence permits in 2018 were Poland (635,335), Germany (543,571), United Kingdom (450,775), France (264,876) and Spain (259,600). Together, those five countries granted 58.5% of the first residence permits issued in the EU. One out of five first residence permits was issued in Poland.