Finland’s comprehensive approach ranks high in the MIPEX ‘Top Ten’, within the International Top 3. Finland scores 85 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, while the average MIPEX country only scores 49/100. A comprehensive approach to integration guarantees equal rights, opportunities and long-term security, both for newcomers and citizens.
Finland’s comprehensive approach to integration is most similar to Canada, Sweden and Portugal and more inclusive than the other Nordic countries. Compared to Sweden, Finland’s policies are more inclusive on political participation and permanent residence, but slightly less inclusive on health and access to nationality.
The ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals and invest in integration as an opportunity. In Finland, integration goes both ways, as policies encourage the public to see immigrants as their equals, neighbours and potential citizens.
These policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country. Under inclusive policies like Finland’s, both immigrants and the public enjoy similar levels of positive attitudes, awareness of discrimination, satisfaction with life, trust in society and belonging in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: Favourable: Ranked #2 alongside Sweden, Finland is tackling the long-term challenge to create a fairer labour market with equal opportunities for newcomers. Non-EU newcomers are more likely in Finland than in most other MIPEX countries to access adult education, professional training and language courses in order to improve their jobs and careers in Finland. Newcomer workers and entrepreneurs can immediately access the labour market, with only a few delays for higher education, study grants and social security. Finland continues to evaluate and improve its labour market policies, qualification recognition procedures and individual integration plans. Since the start of these plans in 2011, newcomer men and women are individually assessed, advised and supported to pursue training and work experience. Based on two dozen independent scientific studies using MIPEX, labour market mobility policies may help working immigrant men and women to improve their language and professional skills, careers and public acceptance.
- Family reunification: Slightly favourable: A slight area of weakness in Finland’s integration policies, the path to family reunification is similar to policies in traditional destination countries and other European countries. To reunite with their immediate family, all non-EU sponsors except refugees must have a basic legal source of income that meets their and their family’s needs based on general social standards in Finland. These requirements were reinforced in 2016, although each family’s personal circumstances should be taken into account. These basic levels may seem comparatively high for a newcomer in Finland or compared to most European countries. The path to autonomous residence for reunited family members is another weakness in Finland as in most countries as well. Based on around 20 scientific studies linking MIPEX to families’ integration outcomes, these policies seem to have a major impact on whether immigrant families reunite, settle down in the country, find jobs and a better place to live and age with dignity.
- Education: Favourable: Ranked #2 behind Sweden, Finland’s targeted policies are reaching immigrant pupils and addressing many of their basic needs and opportunities. From pre-school to university, immigrant pupils have the right to language, mother tongue and additional academic and social support. The education system could do more to address intercultural education and diversity across the curriculum, school day, extracurricular activities and the teaching profession. Around 20 scientific studies have tried to identify the specific role that these policies play. These policies may not only help to close achievement gaps for vulnerable groups on different education tracks but also help all pupils to develop a common sense of pride, safety and belonging at school.
- Health: Slightly favourable: A slight area of weakness in Finland as in most European countries, migrant patients do not benefit from comprehensive migrant health policies. Universal healthcare access is limited by the conditions for legal migrants and by both legal and procedural obstacles for asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. Providers and patients are generally provided with information and support. But they could benefit from better cooperation, training and targeted services. A comprehensive national migrant health policy could emerge from local practitioners (e.g. Helsinki Global Clinic and standards at Turku University Hospital) as well as international good practices (e.g. Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand). While more research is needed on migrant health policies, around a dozen MIPEX studies, including several reviewed in The Lancet, find that inclusive integration policies can help to reduce gaps in health equity in terms of immigrants’ reported health, chronic illnesses, elderly diabetes and frailty and, even, mortality.
- Political participation: Favourable: Ranking #1 alongside Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal and other Nordic countries, Finland’s inclusive approach to democracy encourages immigrant residents to participate in the decisions that concern their daily lives. Newcomers enjoy basic political liberties and democratic inclusion in their town and region. Authorities aim to improve their policies and boost immigrants' civic and political participation by supporting and consulting immigrant-led civil society. The national Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO) provides a favourable model for local/regional authorities in Finland and other countries. Around 30 scientific studies using MIPEX find that inclusive policies help to close the democratic deficit in political participation, engagement, trust and satisfaction between immigrants and the general public.
- Permanent residence: Favourable: Ranked #1 alongside Sweden, Brazil and traditional destination countries, Finland offers a clear and stable path for most non-EU residents to enjoy long-term security and better socio-economic opportunities to participate in society. The path to permanent residence in Finland has been stable and similar to the paths in several Western European countries. The limited MIPEX research on permanent residence suggests that inclusive policies encourage immigrants to stay long-term, settle down and secure better jobs.
- Access to nationality: Slightly favourable: Thanks to the 579/2011 Nationality Act, naturalising immigrants enjoy a relatively clear, quick and encouraging path to dual nationality in Finland, slightly above average for Western Europe. Following a 2007 Supreme Court decision recognising applicants' 'strong ties' to Finland, the 2011 Act made the procedure shorter and more flexible for applicants who can meet the legal requirements after 5 years. Children raised in Finland also benefit from an entitlement to citizenship since 2003. One of the best studied areas of integration policy with over 30 MIPEX studies, nationality policies are the strongest factor driving naturalisation rates and can also boost some immigrants’ acceptance, socio-economic status, political participation, sense of belonging and trust.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: Finland’s comprehensive law (December 2014 Non-Discrimination Act, +6 in 2015 in this MIPEX area) scores in the international Top 10, alongside traditional destination countries and several European countries (+6 2015). Potential victims of discrimination on all grounds are equally protected in all areas of life by the new non-discrimination law, ombudsman and tribunal. Based on over 30 MIPEX studies, the slow expansion of anti-discrimination policies across most MIPEX countries appears to have had a long-term impact on reshaping public attitudes, discrimination awareness, reporting and trust in institutions, society and democracy. For example, the EU-MIDIS 2016 survey found that discriminated immigrants in Finland were more likely to know their rights and report their case to authorities than discriminated immigrants in most EU countries.