Changes to policy make integration easier

Group 1: Brian Otieno, Julia Virtala, Matti Vesikansa, Ossi Mansikka

Since August 2011 immigrants arriving to Finland have received guidance and basic information about the Finnish society. The reformed immigrant integration policy aims at bringing immigrants more swiftly into the workforce.

According to a survey made by the Finnish Representatives of the European Commission last September, 68 % of Finns considered the immigration policy to be a failure. Päivi Räsänen, the minister of internal affairs said last October, that one of the problems with the legislation was that



Source: Yle archives, site:

Finland’s attractiveness for asylum seekers was the unstrict family reunification policy.

Räsänen also implied that this policy rules would be tightened.

The core of the reform is, that now each immigrant has their own plan of integration which is given to them by the Employment and Economic Development Office of the respective municipality of residence.

Every immigrant is also given a “Basic information about Finland” –guidebook.

Immigrants receiving income support and are searching for work have the right to receive an initial survey and integration plan. The survey is made to find out what kind of services could help the immigrant to integrate faster into Finnish society.

The integration plan has to be implemented in a period of three years from the moment of arrival. The plan is drafted by the Employment Office and the Social Welfare Office in cooperation with the Labour Councellor. The draft will include among other things, language courses and cultural awareness.

According to official statistics, cultural differences between Finland and the immigrant’s home country slow down integration. Immigrants from western countries integrate more quickly compared to African and Asian immigrants.

“Language is the key to integration”

The government hopes that the reform will help immigrants in their early phases in integration.

The Finnish labour minister Lauri Ihalainen says, that integration requires action and understanding from the whole society:

“Many immigrants who live in Finland are in a position where lack of knowledge and language skills form an obstacle in the employment process. However the Finnish language is best learned in work. We need more cooperation with employers to create possibilities for immigrants to contribute to the society.”

Ismet Lozic, a political reasearcher agrees with minister Ihalainen: “Immigrant agree that the biggest obstacles in integration relate to the lack of unofficial contacts with the general public. Learning the language is essential, but useless, if there is no one to talk with.”

The reform aims to deal with the changes in immigration that have occurred over the past 20 years. It brings the Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylym Seekers up to date. Its previous version was outlined in the 1990’s, when immigration was modest and all incomers were classified as returning expatriates or refugees.

Changes were also made to the administration. Integration affairs were moved from the ministry of internal affairs under the mandate of the employment and economic ministry.

The guidebook given to immigrants can be found at The website of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy also has information on the drafting of an integration plan in ten different languages: English, Finnish, French, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Somali, Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic, and Albanian.


Monitori-magazine, Article: Työministeri Lauri Ihalainen: Työ ja koulutus parasta kotouttamista, published 2.9.2011.


Statistics Finland, Article on immigrants, published 11.4.2005.


Valtioneuvoston selonteko kotouttamislain toimeenpanosta (VNS5/2002)


Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylym Seekers (493/1999)

Site: and

Sosiaaliportti, Article: Uusi kotouttamislaki 1.9.2011, published 23.9.2011


Newspaper Tamperelainen,Article: Mörkki suomalainen isompi ongelma maahanmuuttajalle kuin huonot kielikurssit, published 15.1.2012


The Finnish immigration service:

Ministry of the Interior:
Info Bank:


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