Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Resettlement to Finland

For more detailed information on resettlement to Finland, a full country profile can be viewed here at Know Reset.

Finland has a resettlement quota for refugees of 750 per year. The Aliens Act lays down the requirements and procedures for admitting refugees to Finland under this quota.

Proposals of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Finland form the basis for the preparation of resettlement cases.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for resettlement in Finland, applicants must meet these criteria stipulated by Section 92 of the Aliens Act:
  • the alien must be in need of international protection with regards to his or her home country;

  • the alien must be in need of resettlement from the first country of asylum, because, for instance, he or she is threatened with return to his or her country of origin or with arbitrary arrest or imprisonment in the country of asylum;

  • the requirements for admitting and integrating the alien into Finland must be assessed;

  • there are no obstacles under Section 36 (of the same Act) to issuing a residence permit (see below).

Admissibility for Resettlement

Under Section 36 of the Aliens Act, refugees may be denied a residence permit in Finland:

  • […] if the alien is considered a danger to public order, security or health or to Finland’s international relations.  Endangering public health does not, however, prevent the issuing of an extended permit, if the requirements for issuing a permit are otherwise met. Endangering international relations does not, however, prevent the issuing of a residence permit on the basis of family ties or issuing a residence permit to an alien who has been issued with a long-tern resident’s residence permit by a Member State of the European Union.

  • […] if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the alien intends to evade the provisions on entry into or residence in the country.

  • a residence permit by reason of family ties may be refused if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the sponsor has received a residence permit by circumventing the provisions on entry or residence by providing false information on his or her identity or family relations.

Family Reunification for Resettled Refugees

Under Section 37 of the Aliens Act, those considered family members are:

  • the spouse of a person residing in Finland. People who continuously share a household and cohabit in a relationship resembling marriage are also regarded as spouses;

  • unmarried children under 18 years of age over whom the person residing in Finland or his or her spouse had guardianship;

  • a person of the same sex in a nationally registered partnership.

If the person residing in Finland is a minor, his or her guardian is considered a family member.

Under Section 115, a relative of a refugee who is not a family member may be issued with a residence permit if denying him or her a residence would be unreasonable because the persons concerned intend to resume their close family life in Finland or because the relative is fully dependent on the sponsor living in Finland.

Under Section 114, a residence permit is issued on the basis of family ties to a family member of a refugee who has been issued with a residence permit to move to Finland if the following conditions are met:

  • the sponsor lives in Finland or has been issue with a residence permit for the purpose of moving to Finland; and

  • the applicant is not considered a danger to public order, security or health.

In cases where issues relating to public order, security or public health come up, a decision on a residence permit is made taking into account all the relevant circumstances relating to the matter.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides services to refugees admitted for resettlement to Finland under the refugee quota or family reunification. IOM makes practical travel arrangements for these persons to Finland, including booking the flights, escorts and purchasing of clothes where needed.

The refugees are received at the airport by the Finnish Red Cross (FRC). FRC provides assistance during border formalities after which the refugees are accompanied to the connecting domestic transportation for their places of resettlement.


Sources: this information has been taken from official documents as well as the Finland country chapter in the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.