The Finnish Ministry of the Interior recently published a working group report on the present state of family reunification of refugees and displaced persons in Finland. This report seeks to clarify the background to family reunification and to examine the prospects for amending the associated regulations.
The report was prepared in response to the programme of the Katainen government, which envisages harmonisation of family reunification practices in Finland with those of the other Nordic countries. The working group was an internal committee of civil servants from the Ministry’s Immigration Department.
There is nothing objectionable in principle about a closed ministerial committee preparing a preliminary factual review. However, this report also includes one very important “proposal” that is, to all intents and purposes, a policy recommendation. This is described in the abstract as follows:
Selvityksessä ehdotetaan, että asetetaan hanke ulkomaalaislain perhesidelupia koskevien säännösten muuttamiseksi tavoitteena Suomessa jo käytössä olevan toimeentuloedellytyksen laajentaminen koskemaan myös humanitaarista suojelua saavien perheen yhdistämistilanteita.
“The report proposes a project to amend the provisions of the Aliens Act governing permits issued on family grounds, with a view to extending the income condition already applied in Finland to include reunification of the families of recipients of humanitarian protection.”
This would scrap the exemption that humanitarian immigrants currently enjoy from the income condition that otherwise governs family reunification.
It is interesting that this exemption would nevertheless continue to apply to the families of citizens of Finland and other Nordic countries.
In concrete terms, and applying current rates, this means that a person displaced by civil war, for example, would have to demonstrate a net monthly income of EUR 1,530 to bring a spouse to Finland plus a further EUR 450 for each additional child. The national average monthly wage in Finland is currently just over EUR 3,000 before taxes and contributions.
The Interior Ministry has requested comments on the report by no later than 6 July 2012.