Migri: Surge in Iraqi citizenship applications and ‘Brexit refugees’

The latest figures show how Iraqis who came to Finland first as asylum seekers in 2015 have progressed through the system to permanent residents and ultimately citizens.

File picture of Migri logo on glass door / Credit: Migri Twitter

The latest figures released by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri on Monday show a rise in the number of Iraqis applying for citizenship; an increase in ‘Brexit refugees’ registering to live in Finland; and more people being deported.

Work is the number one reason that foreigners apply for residence permits in Finland, not family or education, and in 2019 some 12,687 – almost half – of all residence permit applications were from people applying to live here in connection with their jobs.

The total number of residence permits topped 71,000 including 2467 new asylum seekers – mainly from Turkey and Russia.

“Most of the Turkish applicants referred to the real or assumed membership in the Gülen movement and the resulting threat imposed on them” explains Antti Lehtinen, Director of Migri’s Asylum Unit.

“A large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses have arrived from Russia in the last few years” he adds.

Surge in Iraqis applying for Finnish citizenship

In 2015 more than 32,000 people from the Middle East arrived in Finland to claim asylum during ongoing conflicts, and now many of those people have worked their way through the system towards permanent residency and ultimately citizenship.

Last year 10,062 people received Finnish nationality including 3248 Iraqis (up from 735 the year before).

“The number of citizenship applications submitted by the Iraqis is clearly increasing” says Heikki Taskinen Director of Migri’s Nationality Unit.

Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons License

‘Brexit refugees’ register as EU citizens while they can 

There was also a large increase in the number of British nationals who are registering to live in Finland before the UK leaves the European Union.

In 2018 just 660 British nationals registered to be here, but in 2019 as the Brexit deadline approached there were 1158 registrations.

“British citizens were advised to register throughout the year. The separate law that entered into force last spring allows British citizens to stay in Finland with EU citizens’ rights until the end of 2020” says Tiina Suominen Director of the Immigration Unit.

UK nationals were the second largest applicant group of EU registrations after Estonians.

Meanwhile the number of people being deported based on illegal resident has increased as well: from 997 people in 2018 to 1839 last year. The biggest number of those, 331, were Uzbekistan citizens.