Under a new law asylum seekers whose claim has been rejected are able to apply for money if they voluntarily return to their home country. The amount of funding is dependent on the development status of their country of origin.
YLE - According to the Finnish Immigration Service, a person who has been refused asylum or who has withdrawn their application for asylum can apply for a grant to ease repatriation to their country of origin.
Grants can be awarded in cash, commodities or a mixture of both. Part of the money given for voluntary return is paid just before departure with the remainder paid when a person has returned to his or her country of origin. The new legal decree came into force in July.
The size of the hand-out varies depending on the "development level" of the state to which people return and can vary from hundreds to a thousand euros. For example, individuals from so-called A-group nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia receive repatriation assistance of around 1,000 euros.
Grants may increase if the applicant has been, for example, a victim of human trafficking, according to the Finnish Immigration Service.
In addition to the money, the state also reimburses the cost of plane tickets, travel documents and other expenses. Currently, voluntary repatriation is organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), but it plans to put the service out for tender before the end of the year.
In the past, the cost of voluntary repatriation in Finland was shared by the Immigration Service and the European Return Fund, with the IOM responsible for implementing the programme. In future the Finnish state will foot the bill in its entirety.
A "cheaper solution" for Finland
The purpose of the regulation is to expedite the repatriation of people who create an economic burden, or who can not be removed from Finland by force. While police have the right to place an individual in a plane by force, this is not always a viable option.
“There are, for example, countries which do not accept the return of anyone other than those who come voluntarily,” says Jorma Kantola, legislative affairs officer from the Ministry of the Interior.
“For example, Iraq will only accept the return of its citizens if they themselves request it,” Kantola adds.
While he says that voluntary repatriation is often the more humane option, one motivation for offering the handout is entirely financial.
Paying for the upkeep of a person living in limbo in a reception centre is expensive.
“There is societal support for a less expensive option, that includes buying tickets and giving a grant, compared to police doing their work and having two escorts in accompaniment,” says Kantola.
According to the Finnish voluntary repatriation site Vapaaehtoinenpaluu.fi 318 people voluntarily returned to their country of origin in 2014. Of these, 75 were Iraqi, 37 Russian and 37 Ukrainian. 410 applications for voluntary return support were made during the same period.