Starting from 15 July, young people who have entered Finland as unaccompanied minors and who have been granted a residence permit will be entitled to after-care until the age of 25. The President of the Republic, Sauli Niinistö, approved the amendment to the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration on 9 July 2020.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration lays down provisions on the services offered to those who arrived in Finland as unaccompanied minors and who have been granted a residence permit.
Until now, young people have been entitled to support until they reach the age of 21. The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration was amended because the equivalent age limit in child welfare after-care was raised to 25 years on 1 January. The amendment will enter into force on 15 July.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, municipalities are responsible for providing after-care services to unaccompanied minors. Central government reimburses them for the cost of providing unaccompanied children with accommodation and support.
Following the legislative amendment, municipalities will be reimbursed for the cost of providing these services until the young person reaches the age of 25. Under the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration, cost reimbursement is subject to separate agreement between the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) and the municipality. Costs shall be reimbursed for a maximum period of ten years.
Some revisions were also made to the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration to clarify its provisions, the Ministry said.
The previous reference in the Act to other measures equivalent to child welfare services was replaced by a reference to social services and other support services. In addition, a paragraph according to which measures to promote integration could include “child welfare after-care measures and services for those who arrived as unaccompanied minors and were granted a residence permit” was repealed.
According to the government's press release, the amendments "are not intended to change the support provided to unaccompanied persons, but merely to clarify that the support provided under the Integration Act does not constitute child welfare service."
Group arrived on Wednesday
On Wednesday afternoon on 8 July, Finland received the first group of underage asylum seekers from Greece. The first group to arrive in Finland consisted of 24 unaccompanied children and adolescents aged between 10 and 16. Most of them come from Afghanistan, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) informed in a press release.
According to a decision made by the Finnish Government, Finland will receive 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. Finland is receiving primarily unaccompanied children and adolescents as well as single-parent families, the immigration agency says.
The aim of the relocations is to relieve the strained situation for reception of asylum seekers of the countries in the Mediterranean region.
“In Finland, we are well prepared and have the experience required to receive asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. The situation on the Greek islands is very acute, and it is excellent that we can cooperate within the EU by supporting the Mediterranean countries,” says Director General Jaana Vuorio.
According to Migri, the coronavirus epidemic has been considered in arranging the relocations. Each asylum seeker must undergo a preliminary health examination that includes coronavirus testing. Everyone also undergoes a second health examination after their arrival in Finland.
Before being transferred to centres specially intended for minors, the asylum seekers will spend 14 days in quarantine-like circumstances in conditions similar to those of an ordinary group home.