New proposal to increase flexibility with regard to travel document requirement when issuing residence permits
The Ministry of the Interior has sent a draft proposal for an amendment to the Aliens Act out for comments. The amendment would allow a residence permit and an alien’s passport to be issued to applicants whose lack of a travel document is the sole impediment to issuing a residence permit.
An alien’s passport would enable individuals to travel to obtain a national passport of their country of origin. They could then use the national passport to prove their identity when subsequently applying for an extended residence permit in Finland.
The ability of applicants to prove their identity with a valid travel document is a basic condition for obtaining a residence permit. The inability of an applicant to present a valid national passport has been an impediment to issuing a permit in some cases. Obtaining such a document can be difficult, especially if the individual’s country of origin has no diplomatic or consular mission in Finland, as it is not possible to travel to another mission or to the country of origin without the required documentation.
The travel document requirement is the only condition for issuing a residence permit that is proposed to be amended. In other words, the amendment would allow exercising discretion with regard to the travel document requirement in certain situations.
The deadline for submitting comments is 30 September 2022. The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament in early November 2022.
The proposal is based on the Government Programme
The draft government proposal reflects an entry in the Government Programme according to which more flexible opportunities to secure a residence permit based on employment shall be provided for those asylum seekers whose applications have been refused but who have found work.
However, according to a report published by the Ministry of the Interior in February, it would be justified, from the perspective of the principle of equal treatment, not to limit the scope of application of the new provision exclusively to asylum seekers whose applications have been refused.
Various measures are taken to prevent emergence of a parallel society
The draft proposal is part of a comprehensive package that seeks to prevent social exclusion and the emergence of a parallel society. The objective is to reduce the risks that living without a right of residence poses to individuals and to society. The project is based on the Action Plan for the Prevention of Irregular Entry and Stay, which has been updated for the period 2021–2024 in accordance with the Government Programme.
The starting point is that a person without a right of residence in Finland shall leave the country, primarily on a voluntary basis. A mere policy of return is nevertheless insufficient under current circumstances, as cooperation with countries of origin does not always work as intended. Therefore, complementary solutions are also needed.