Family reunification: Interior Ministry calls for comments

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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.

  1. gloaming

    The income condition makes a lot of sense, and should be implemented immediately AND extended to cover all of secondary protection.

  2. Justice Demon

    The income condition makes a lot of sense, and should be implemented immediately AND extended to cover all of secondary protection.

    Obviously that is one view of the matter, but why should this condition not also and equally apply to the foreign family members of Finnish citizens? The economic considerations are exactly the same.

  3. Mark

    This totally contradicts Finland’s stated position on protecting and advancing the rights of the child and of women, as it is exactly these who will disproportionately suffer. It makes family unity a matter of political discrimination in such a way that it would actually leave women and children vulnerable in a war without the support of their husband and father – though that is better than the alternative of a dead husband or father, I guess.

    It would make the rights of women and children dependent and conditional on a vagary of factors such as labour market conditions, integration policies and practices within local municipalities and on the lack of discrimination by Finnish citizens against the humanitarian immigrant. So much for Finland promoting ‘universal’ human rights of women and children.

    Disgusting – do these civil servants actually read their departmental reports and policies before they prepare such a proposal?

    • Enrique

      I totally agree, Mark. Taking into account the high unemployment among immigrants in Finland, it would make it virtually impossible for a person to bring his family to Finland. The authorities are saying: You can stay in Finland but it’s your mistake for coming here.

      Finland has had a poor record when it comes to refugees. When Finland hosted in 1975 the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), it promised to respect the rights of political refugees to seek asylum. Finland still returned political asylum-seekers back to the Soviet Union after the CSCE conference without granting Soviet refugees asylum. Migrant Tales has written a few blog entries on the issue.

      The proposal to new family reunification regulations reveal once again that complex and dark side of Finland’s immigration policy. Even if the country has built a model social welfare state, it aims to punish those that it accepts as refugees. What worse punishment can a person receive than be forced to live separated from his or her family?

  4. Iam

    Hi MT,
    What is human right means for law in Finland??
    Truely i want this answer from law in Finland.
    I am not coming here for be ur slave, forget it am not ur slave.
    U push me over and over for u cant say me directly go out of this country, for u shy, u shy of morality, but u try to break me all the time for u cant accept me here, u cant see me around yourself, u think life is yours, only yours.
    But hey life is mine and yours, we both deserve it.
    U think right or left,yes or no
    But hey there is more than right, life, yes and no
    U think u r perfect, there is no wrong in u
    But hey look at mirror , u need wash ur eyes
    Me is alive, an alive, need freedom
    Dont save my freedom in ur system, roles
    Becareful we r not living here for century, we have a short jeourney on the earth, dont make my trip hard and harder, leave me to open my wings
    leave me to fly
    leave me to sing for u a song, a song of joy, happiness, success, freedom in the light
    a song of union
    Union with human race
    Love is best

  5. akaaro

    I entirely agree with Mark & Enrique. This proposal tends to turn into the situation of immigrants like a cell in a hell, because there is already sky-high unemployment of immigrants in Finland that makes harder and stress for them to reunite their families. But this seems that govenment wants to put more restriction to family reunification systems. i would recommend government should improve and empower the employment situations of immigrants here before putting more pressures. However, most of the refugees don’t come to Finland like this process.