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Review of Ukrainians in Finland:
Ukrainians will continue to be an important immigrant group

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 19.1.2023 12.00
Press release

In November and December, E2 Research conducted a review of what Ukrainians who have fled to Finland think about their life and what kind of plans they have. This was done to deepen and update the information obtained from the report compiled by the Ministry of the Interior in the summer.

The review notes that it is still difficult to predict the future plans of the Ukrainians. Although some dream of returning home, it is not currently considered realistic. In addition to the course and consequences of the war, plans are influenced by, for example, work and family.

The longer the war continues, the more Ukrainians are likely to remain in the countries where they have fled. Many have no home to return to. In Finland, too, Ukrainians will form a large immigrant group regardless of when and how the war ends.

Application for a municipality of residence becomes possible in the spring

Based on the review, there are fears and rumours among Ukrainians that they would be forced to leave Finland for some reason. However, a residence permit issued in Finland on the basis of temporary protection is directly valid for the entire duration of the temporary protection in the EU. The residence permits are extended without a separate application. 

In the coming spring, once they have stayed in Finland for a year, many Ukrainians will be able to apply for a municipality of residence. The review shows that Ukrainians lack information about this opportunity. 

Ukrainians who are granted a municipality of residence will move on from reception services and become customers of the services provided by municipalities and wellbeing services counties. They will have the same rights, services and obligations as permanent residents of Finland. Early in the year, the authorities will publish more detailed information on applying for a municipality of residence and on how getting a municipality of residence affects life in Finland.

The municipality of residence is determined by the place of residence, which can be chosen freely. However, the review estimates that, due to the large number of families among Ukrainian refugees, they may not be heading to the large cities where the rest of the immigrant population in Finland is concentrated. Schooling and early childhood education cause families to become rooted to their current places of residence all over Finland. 

Seasonal work and housing provided by farmers also draw Ukrainians to the countryside. Some are also fond of the nature, small size, tranquillity or smooth traffic in their place of residence.

Language teaching and communication in Ukrainian are needed

Based on the review, the employment of Ukrainians is hindered by problems with the recognition of Ukrainian qualifications and the lack of a common language. Since Ukrainians do not, as a rule, speak Finnish or Swedish, the teaching of these languages needs to be further increased.
Children often learn the language faster than adults, and some Ukrainian children already speak Finnish or Swedish quite well. 

“Developing children’s language skills helps families. On the other hand, children should not end up having to take care of their parents’ affairs,” says Eija Eronen, Specialist at E2 Research. 

The review emphasises that Finland also needs to increase the amount of interpreting and translation services and communications in the Ukrainian language.

There are now as many Ukrainian citizens as Estonian citizens in Finland

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, about 7,000 Ukrainian citizens lived in Finland. In 2022, Finland granted a residence permit on the basis of temporary protection to approximately 45,000 Ukrainian refugees. Finland has received more Ukrainian refugees per capita than Sweden, but significantly fewer than, for example, Estonia and Poland. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 new applicants for temporary protection are expected to arrive from Ukraine this year. 

“At the end of 2022, Ukrainian citizens were about as large a group of immigrants as Estonian citizens belonging to the Finnish population, when we include those who are receiving temporary protection,” says Rolle Alho, Senior Researcher at E2 Research. 

The review is based on statistical data and qualitative interview data, which includes interviews with Ukrainians, officials and experts in the field. The work was funded by Sitra, the Ministry of the Interior and E2 Research. The starting point of Sitra’s Democracy and Participation theme is that the voices of all population groups are heard in society. People entering the country, in particular, generally have less opportunities to influence things than members of the majority population.

Inquiries:

Eija Eronen, Specialist, E2 Research, tel. +358 44 700 0012, [email protected]
Rolle Alho, Senior Researcher, E2 Research, tel. +358 50 5344 485, [email protected] 
Mari Helenius, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 214, [email protected]
Onni Pekonen, Specialist, Sitra, tel. +358 294 618 424, [email protected]

Addition 27 January 2023 at 10.45: Background information on page 62 has been specified.

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