Government decides on temporary protection category of people fleeing Ukraine
The EU has activated the Temporary Protection Directive to help people fleeing Ukraine. The Council decision, which entered into force on 4 March, left a certain amount of discretion for Member States to decide the exact category of people to be granted protection. Finland will apply protection more extensively than what is defined in the EU-wide decision. The Government adopted a decision on the matter on 7 March.
In all Member States, the decision applies to the following categories of people
- Ukrainian citizens and their family members
- Beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine and their family members
- Other permanent residents of Ukraine who cannot return to their country of origin
For the last group, the Member States may choose between temporary protection and a corresponding national permit category. Finland decided to apply temporary protection.
The requirement for all of these groups is that the person must have been resident in Ukraine and fled when Russia’s invasion began, i.e. on 24 February or thereafter.
Finland will also grant temporary protection to the following persons:
- Ukrainian citizens and their family members who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February and cannot return home as a result of the conflict. The Commission has urged the Member States to be flexible with regard to these persons.
- Other Ukrainian citizens and their family members who are already living or have arrived in Finland.
- Third-country nationals who have resided legally (also on a short-term basis) in Ukraine and cannot return to their home countries. This group is mentioned as an optional group for Member States in the EU decision.
This Government decision enters into force immediately. It will remain in force for as long as the Council’s EU-level decision remains in force, i.e. until 4 March 2023. If necessary, the EU may extend the decision to grant protection by six months at a time, up to a maximum of three years total. If the situation changed and the EU considered that it would be possible to return to Ukraine safely and permanently, the Council could decide to end the protection even in a shorter period of time.
Guidelines for applying for temporary protection are currently being prepared
Granting temporary protection makes it possible to provide protection to a limited group of people in a swift process that is lighter than the asylum procedure.
Similarly to asylum seekers, beneficiaries of temporary protection have the right to live in a reception centre and the right to receive the services provided by the reception centre. For example, they receive healthcare services, necessary social welfare services and necessary means of subsistence. If they so wish, they can also arrange their own housing. Beneficiaries of temporary protection have the right to work immediately.
Applications for temporary protection are submitted to the police or border authorities, as is the case with applications for asylum. The Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Immigration Service are preparing a procedure for granting temporary protection in practice. The Finnish Immigration Service is drawing up guidelines for people within the scope of protection.
Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 270, [email protected]