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Amendments to the Integration Act and Reception Act to secure services for those who have fled Ukraine 

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 20.12.2022 16.11 | Published in English on 21.12.2022 at 9.21
Press release
Kuvituskuva.

There are more than 44,000 people in Finland who have sought temporary protection having fled Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. In order to secure their access to integration services, the Integration Act and the Reception Act will be amended to allow the central government to pay compensation to municipalities and wellbeing services counties for service provision. The amendments to the Reception Act specify how the reception service provision ends when beneficiaries of temporary protection are assigned to a municipality of residence. 

So far, more than 44,000 people have fled the war from Ukraine to Finland and applied for a residence permit on the basis of temporary protection. Temporary protection is based on an EU directive, which has been applied in Finland for the first time due to the war in Ukraine. 

To ensure that beneficiaries of temporary protection have access to services in all situations, the government proposal approved by Parliament includes amendments to two acts: the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration (the Integration Act) and the Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection and on the Identification of and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings (the Reception Act). 

“As Russia’s brutal attack continues, it has become clear that most of those who have fled Ukraine will stay in Finland for a longer period. These amendments will secure access to services for beneficiaries of temporary protection and ensure that municipalities and wellbeing services counties have sufficient funds to finance service provision,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen

Compensation paid to municipalities and wellbeing services counties for services 

Until now, beneficiaries of temporary protection have mainly been covered by reception services, i.e. they have not had a municipality of residence of their own. As of spring 2023, they may be granted a municipality of residence if they have lived in Finland continuously for at least one year.

If they meet these criteria, they can apply to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency for a municipality of residence. Beneficiaries of temporary protection may also be granted a municipality of residence on other grounds laid down in the Municipality of Residence Act.

When a person is assigned to a municipality of residence, the municipality, the wellbeing services county and other authorities have a greater role in providing services for them. After receiving a municipality of residence, the person has the right to receive municipal services. The current Integration Act does not allow the central government to make specified government transfers to municipalities and wellbeing services counties to compensate for the services they provide to beneficiaries of temporary protection. 

Following the legislative amendments, the central government can also pay compensation to municipalities and wellbeing services for providing services promoting the integration of beneficiaries of temporary protection. The costs would be reimbursed on the same grounds as for the services provided to other groups, such as beneficiaries of international protection.  

Amendments increase equality in service provision 

According to the legislative amendment, the provisions on assigning individuals to municipalities also apply to beneficiaries of temporary protection if they have a municipality of residence. This clarifies the authorities’ responsibilities related to assigning people to municipalities and amends the Integration Act to correspond better to the current practice of how people are assigned to municipalities. 

A child or young person who has arrived in Finland without a parent or guardian and who is a beneficiary of temporary protection and has a municipality of residence will receive housing and support services, similarly to a quota refugee who has arrived as an unaccompanied minor or a child or young person receiving international protection.

Legislative amendments enter into force in March 2023 

The acts will enter into force on 1 March 2023. The President of the Republic confirmed the act on 20 December 2022.

Inquiries:
Special Adviser Emily Strohm, tel. +358 295 047 160
Mira Sinkkonen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 047 293

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