An open letter to home secretary Maria Ohisalo, Immigration Department management, Finnish Immigration Services, and the Aliens Police

The government’s programme pledges to address growing undocumentedness by making it easier for people to officialise their status in Finland. This objective is important, as numerous research studies and reports by various civil actors have shown during the recent years. In practice, the objective put forward in the government’s programme has barely made any progress and the Police is preparing also now to return integrated people who have lived in Finland for years for ex. to Afghanistan.

End preparations for deportations to war-ravaged Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan has been constantly deteriorating and unrest in Kabul has continuously increased.

People who have lived in Finland for a long time should be allowed to officialise their status in this country

Many who have been living in Finland for years are now under threat of deportation. This concerns both citizens of Afghanistan and of other countries. Among these people, there are individuals who integrated here, learned the language, got employed and founded families. This is in blatant contradiction with the objectives mentioned in the government’s programme (prevention of undocumentedness, facilitating obtaining a worker’s residence permit for people arrived as asylum seekers, assessment of the flaws of family reunification processes).

The situation is unsustainable for those arrived in Finland as asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016 especially. These people have been trying and are still trying now to officialise their status based on other grounds than asylum.

People who have no (access to) passport must be ensured the possibility to officialise their status in Finland

Many residence permits (such as permits based on studies, work and family reunification) require a valid travel document. However, not everybody has or can obtain a passport – see for ex Afghani people, but also Iranian and Somali people. There are several reasons why a person may be unable to even apply for a passport – just to mention a few, the embassy of the country of the applicant may not operate in Finland, people seeking asylum cannot travel beyond Finnish borders, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicates or completely prevents movement). Many of these situations could be solved and many people could get a permit, if only Migri granted them an alien’s passport. However, Migri grants such document very rarely (also due to legal changes made in 2015 that were never followed up.) Legal changes also made it impossible to receive a temporary residence permit and the aliens’ passport that often came with it.

5 proposals to alleviate the problem of undocumentedness

The current practice wastes human lives, makes it practically impossible for some people to participate in society and exposes those individuals that the system made undocumented to a range of exploitation forms in Finland. This happens more and more often to those whose asylum processes have been disappointing quality-wise and for whom the practice of granting other residence permits has been restricted. There is an urgency to apply the practice in ways that respect human rights; there is a need for legal reforms, if there is still the will to try and repair the situation during the current government term. Accordingly, we demand that:

  1. The Police end deportations to Afghanistan.
  2. Migri re-takes into use immediately the practice applied in 2020, which exceptionally allowed to obtain an alien’s passport as a consequence of the Corona pandemic.
  3. The requirements for granting an alien’s passport are facilitated, so that people who have been living in Finland for years and who qualify for other permits are granted an alien’s passport, even if they have no passport. If the current legislation does not allow them to receive an alien’s passport, a draft should be prepared immediately to make this possible.
  4. The ties to Finland that a person has developed over time (for example studies, work, family and other personal relations) are really taken into account when deciding upon the person’s residence permit.
  5. A legislation is drafted that makes it possible for people left with no international protection to receive a residence permit on other grounds, in line with the government’s programme.


Turvapaikanhakijoiden tuki ry

The Osaksi project

Pakolaisten puolesta ry

Vapaa liikkuvuus network

Stop Deportations movement

The Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration ETMU

Turun Valkonauha ry/ Kaikkien naisten talo

We see you ry