Social security and services for people applying for and receiving international protection in Finland
People applying for international protection leave their home countries for various reasons, for example, to escape war, persecution or insecurity. Finland is committed by international agreements to providing international protection to those in need.
Necessary means of subsistence are secured for all those who need them. People’s situation and the duration of their stay in Finland affects their right to receive health and social services more extensively.
Who does this apply to?
- An immigrant usually means a foreign citizen who has moved to Finland and intends to live here for a longer time. An immigrant can sometimes also refer to a person who was born in Finland but whose parent or both parents have moved to Finland (second-generation immigrant).
- An asylum seeker is a person who has fled from their own country due to persecution and applies for international protection and the right of residence in another country.
- A beneficiary of temporary protection is a person who has fled the war in Ukraine and who has been granted a residence permit under the Temporary Protection Directive.
- A refugee is, according to the UN Refugee Convention, a person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their own country. According to the Convention's definition, war, natural disasters or poverty are not causes of refugeeism. In Finland, people who are allowed to stay in the country because of their need for protection or for humanitarian reasons are also called refugees.
- A quota refugee is a person who has a refugee status granted by the UN and who belongs to the refugee quota of the country of reception.
- With regard to health and social services, a person who has arrived in Finland and has been granted a municipality of residence in Finland is in the same position as any other resident of the municipality. If the person is permanently resident in Finland, they are also entitled to social security benefits provided by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
Services at reception centres
People seeking asylum in Finland and people who have been granted a residence permit on the basis of temporary protection have the right to receive reception services to secure their necessary means of subsistence and care.
Asylum seekers are entitled to these services while their application is being processed, and those granted temporary protection have the right to the services for the entire period of validity of their residence permit, unless they are granted a municipality of residence in Finland.
The reception centres, which operate under the guidance of the Finnish Immigration Service, organise the necessary services as part of the reception services. The reception services include accommodation, reception allowance or spending allowance, any necessary health and social services, interpretation and translation services, and work and study activities. Meals can also be provided as part of the reception services.
Quota refugees are granted a municipality of residence directly after their entry into the country, which means that their services are organised by municipalities and wellbeing services counties right from the start.
Health and social services at reception centres
Reception centres organise health and social services either by themselves or procure them from wellbeing services counties and private service providers.
- Everyone undergoes a health check and screening for infectious diseases at a reception centre.
- People have the right to receive such social services that social welfare professionals consider necessary (advice, guidance, dealing with social problems).
- Adult asylum seekers are entitled to urgent healthcare. In addition, they have the right to receive other health services that are deemed necessary by healthcare professionals.
- Adults who have been granted a residence permit on the basis of temporary protection are entitled to health services to the same extent as municipal residents.
- All minors are also entitled to health services to the same extent as municipal residents.
Services for people with a municipality of residence
Asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit settle in Finnish municipalities, and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency grants them a municipality of residence upon application.
Similarly, those who have been granted temporary protection may apply for a municipality of residence in Finland if the necessary requirements are met (e.g. they have lived in Finland continuously for at least one year).
Once they have obtained a municipality of residence, they are in the same position as any other resident of the municipality. They then receive public health and social services organised by wellbeing services counties in the same way as other residents.
With regard to unaccompanied minors who have received a municipality of residence in Finland, wellbeing services counties assess their need for care, attention and accommodation and organise the relevant services in family group homes or supported housing, for example.
Costs of services
The Ministry of the Interior’s branch of government is responsible for the costs for as long as the persons are covered by the reception system. During this time, the persons are not entitled to health and social services organised by wellbeing services counties, except in urgent cases.
When asylum seekers are issued with a residence permit or people receiving temporary protection are granted a municipality of residence, the costs of healthcare and social welfare services are covered by wellbeing services counties, which receive imputed compensation from the State for the period of three years.
The proportion of residents with immigrant background among the whole population of the municipality and the wellbeing services county affects the amount of central government transfers. This depends on the foreign language coefficient that increases the central government transfers to the municipality.
Additionally, municipalities and wellbeing services counties receive compensation, for the period of three years, for the integration services and social assistance they have paid, for the interpretation services they have organised, and for some specific costs (incl. healthcare and social welfare services).
Social security for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers are not entitled to benefits from Kela. Residence-based social security covers all people who live permanently in Finland.
If asylum seekers are granted a residence permit, they become entitled to benefits from Kela, municipalities and wellbeing services counties while they live in Finland.
Residence-based benefits include minimum pension security (e.g. national pension), income security during illness or unemployment, and support for families for costs related to children.
- Information on asylum seekers – Ministry of the Interior
- Information on integration of immigrants – Ministry of Employment and the Economy
- Integration.fi (Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Employment)
- Information on immigration – Immigration Service
- Working in Finland - Information for immigrants (pdf)
- Finland in your language- Info Finland