Specialists in Finland representative Mr. Maksim Smirnov presenting the results of a recent survey

On the 28th of September, Viite organized an info session regarding the political participation of immigrants in Finland. The background for the session are the proposed changes to immigration laws in the current government program. The proposed changes have been criticized across the board, from political parties, to employer and employee unions. The results of a recent study performed by Foreign Specialists in Finland are unmistakable:

  • “The 3-month limit on time between jobs and 8-year residence time for Citizenship are the most critical parts of the program while the program itself is very unpopular.
  • 61% of all respondents surveyed who live in Finland on a work-based residence permit and had experienced a period of unemployment would not have found new employment within the proposed 3-month time limit (32% of respondents with work-based residence permits).
  • 69.5% of survey participants would consider leaving Finland if the new policies came into effect in their current form.”

(Source: Specialists in Finland)

Results of the immigrant survey on proposed changes. Source: Foreign Specialists in Finland Study

The audience of approximately 40 people at the Parliament building and online heard initial remarks from Mr. Atte Harjanne, Chairperson of the Green parliamentary group, and Ms. Hanna Holopainen, MP, Chairperson of the Finnish Greens for Science and Technology. Other presentations included a representative from Sitra, Green Sisu, and a personal experience of a politician with an immigrant background, Dr. Theresia Bilola from Turku.

Viite Chairperson, MP Hanna Holopainen describing how to influence the political process

The discussion was lively and there was a consensus that the public discussion should continue from the following points:

  • Finnish people assume immigrants understand how the society and the political process works. This is not true. We need better tools and improved processes to include immigrants in the political process.
  • The efforts of the expat community, represented by the Foreign Specialists in Finland, has managed to raise considerable attention on the matter which is helpful to possibly affect the possible changes.
  • However the government seems adamant on the new program. Even though Kokoomus realizes the considerable problems in the proposed legislation, they need the support of Perussuomalaiset to support changes they want to labor laws and other legislation. This may lead to the legislation passing even though its problems are widely recognized.

The conclusion of the event is: Further public discussion is needed. An event should be organized where representatives of government and opposition parties, employee and employer unions, and immigrants can discuss and debate policy matters.

Chairperson of the Green Parliamentary group, MP Atte Harjanne delivering his remarks