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HomeFinlandFinland Sees Drop in Work-based Immigration From Record-high 2022 Levels

Finland Sees Drop in Work-based Immigration From Record-high 2022 Levels

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A record number of people moved to Finland for work last year, according to figures provided by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri, but this year will see a significant drop in the number of new arrivals.

Over 20,000 people were granted a work-related visa in 2022, with the highest numbers coming from Russia, India and the Philippines.

Among EU countries, Estonians, Romanians and Latvians were among the largest groups coming to Finland for work.

Migri’s figures also revealed that 40,468 people have been granted first-time residence permits so far this year, for reasons including work, family reunification or study.

The agency predicts that the total number of people moving to Finland from abroad this year will be higher than last year, but fewer work-based visas will be issued.

Migri’s figures do not include seasonal workers or the family members of people who moved to Finland in search of international protection. Ukrainian nationals who have moved to Finland on temporary protection visas are also excluded from the figures.

“Work permits have remained at a high level, but are likely to stay at around 15,000 this year. The calculated expectation for EU nationals arriving here to work this year is just over 3,300 people,” Migri’s Markus Suutari stated.

Healthcare workers from the Philippines

This year has again seen an influx of workers from Russia, India and the Philippines, with Thailand also ranking high in the granting of visas to work in Finland.

“A new and very fast-growing group of non-EU citizens applying for residence permits is people from the Philippines. There are a lot of social and health workers coming from there. There are also people coming from countries such as Sri Lanka, India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam,” Suutari noted.

Migri has previously reported a surge in the number of students from abroad applying to study in Finland, and there has also been an increase in the reunification of families after one member moved to Finland for work.

“The arrival of family members is logical. Since the Covid pandemic, we have seen more and more first permit immigrants coming here and they can now apply for family members while they are in the country, which means that the number of applications for family ties has increased,” Suutari said.

For student visa applicants, the highest numbers are coming from countries such as Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Russia.

Weak economy affects work-based immigration

Although the total number of people arriving into Finland from abroad this year is set to top last year’s figures, the number of work-based visas granted by Migri is expected to be about 15,000 — or 25 percent less than the 2022 figure.

There are at least two reasons why fewer people are coming to Finland to work this year compared to last year, according to Katri Niskanen, a senior specialist from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Firstly, the timing of the lifting of Covid-related restrictions.

“The restrictions took effect quite late in many countries of origin – this probably contributed to the high number of applications last year and helps explain the lower number this year,” Niskanen said.

In addition, Niskanen noted, the Finnish economy is facing challenging times, with the construction sector in crisis and the export industry also struggling.

“Economic activity always affects labour migration. But this is about getting the people employers need to Finland, so if there is less demand for skilled workers, there will be fewer labour-based migrants,” Niskanen explained.

Unclear outlook for 2024

Looking ahead to next year, Migri’s Markus Suutari said the situation is difficult to predict.

“It depends on the economic situation. We expect that next year, applications for work permits will start to pick up again. Student permits are forecast to increase and family reunification permits are expected to be around this year’s levels,” Suutari said.

Another factor is the government’s plans to tighten rules on immigration, which have been the subject of protests in recent weeks by student groups and immigrant communities.

The government’s plans include reviewing the minimum income limit for a person moving to Finland, as well as the limit to bring a family to the country. In addition, working visa holders who are out of work for three months or more could see their permit revoked, if the government’s proposals are turned into law.

“The government’s policy is not just to reduce the number of newcomers, but also to promote and facilitate international recruitment and, among other things, to strengthen the employment of foreign-language students,” Niskanen said.

Source: Yle

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