Living in Finland

Cities

Turvapaikanhakija

Asylum seeker

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker (turvapaikanhakija) is a person who seeks protection and the right to reside in a foreign state. Therefore, an asylum seeker is not a refugee (pakolainen). If an asylum seeker is granted refugee status or a residence permit on the grounds of a need for protection or some other grounds, they can stay in Finland.

How to apply for asylum?

  • Apply for asylum in person
  • you must apply for asylum from the police, border authorities or customs authorities
  • make the application as soon as you arrive in Finland
  • be specific about your reasons for applying for asylum

You cannot apply for asylum

  • at Finnish Diplomatic Missions abroad or through them,
  • by contacting Finland from abroad by letter or e-mail.

More information on applying for asylum is available on the Infopankki page Coming to Finland as an asylum seeker.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
The brochure Information for Asylum SeekersFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | French | Somali | Persian | Arabic | Kurdish

Asylum seeker's right to reside

After you have applied for asylum, you have the right to reside in Finland for as long as the handling of your application takes. During that time you cannot leave the country. If you do travel abroad during this time, the authorities may decide that your application is no longer valid.

If you are granted asylum or a residence permit on some other grounds, you can stay in Finland. If the conditions in your native country are such that you do not need an asylum and there are no other grounds for granting you a residence permit, your application will be dismissed and you will be turned back from Finland.

If your asylum or residence permit application is denied, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision. Read more on the Infopankki page Coming to Finland as an asylum seeker.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Seeking asylum in FinlandFinnish | Swedish | English

An asylum seeker’s right to work

You have the right to work in gainful employment in Finland when three months have passed from the filing of your application, if you have a valid travel document. If you have no travel document, you can work in gainful employment in Finland when you have resided in the country for six months.

Information on working in Finland can be found on the Infopankki page Employment and entrepreneurship.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Asylum seeker’s right to workFinnish | Swedish | English

Social security

Asylum seekers are not entitled to social security in Finland. This means that they cannot obtain social security benefits from Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland).

The reception centre pays asylum seekers a reception allowance. The allowance is paid until the asylum application has been processed. The reception allowance is a small amount of money intended for necessary expenses.

Asylum seekers who are granted a residence permit and who live permanently in Finland are entitled to social security in Finland. Persons who have been granted a residence permit can apply for coverage under the Finnish social security system from Kela.

Family reunification

Asylum seekers are not entitled to family reunification arrangements. Your family members cannot receive a residence permit for Finland based on a family tie. If you receive a residence permit for Finland, your family members can apply for a permit on the basis of a family tie. Read more on the Infopankki page Moving to Finland to be with a family member.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Applying for a residence permit on the basis of family tiesFinnish | Swedish | English

Health

Asylum seekers cannot normally use public health services, such as health centres, directly. Instead, the reception centre arranges health services for them. The reception centre's public health nurse refers the asylum seeker to medical care. More information is available at your reception centre.

If you are granted a residence permit and have a municipality of residence in Finland, you are entitled to use the public health services of your municipality, similarly to all citizens of your municipality.

Health care for undocumented migrants

If you are in Finland without a residence permit, you can get medical assistance and advice from the Global Clinic. You can go to the Global Clinic even if you do not need urgent medical care. Global Clinic operates in the following cities:

  • Helsinki
  • Turku
  • Tampere
  • Oulu
  • Joensuu
  • Lahti

You can call or send an e-mail to the Clinic. A nurse or a doctor will answer the call. You will find the contact information on the Global Clinic website.

The services of the Global Clinic are free of charge. The Global Clinic will not report its customers to the police or other authorities. The location and opening hours of the clinic are not listed publicly.

linkkiGlobal Clinic:
Contact informationFinnish | English

Legal aid for asylum seekers

Refugees, asylum seekers and other foreigners can find help and guidance in legal questions at the Refugee Advice Centre. The Refugee Advice Centre provides asylum seekers with legal aid at the initial stage of the asylum process. The Refugee Advice Centre also provides advice for people residing in Finland without a residence permit.

linkkiRefugee Advice Centre:
Legal aid for refugeesFinnish | Swedish | English