The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration (Integration Act) entered into force on 1 September 2011. The purpose of the act is to respond to the growth in immigration in recent years and to promote diversity by supporting immigrants’ inclusion in society.
The aim is to provide all immigrants with basic information about the Finnish society, labour market and services that promote integration. The act focuses on the initial stages of immigration by ensuring that immigrants are provided with more information as well as advice and guidance in the early stages.
The integration measures and services directed at immigrants should form a clear and logical package. In the initial assessment, the immigrant’s language proficiency, educational and work history and life situation are reviewed. Integration services are offered on the basis of immigrants’ individual service needs and the situation of their families.
In addition, the act specifies the tasks and roles of the municipalities and the Employment and Economic Development Offices (TE Offices), the ministries, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) and the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVIs) in promoting integration.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration applies to all immigrants
The scope of the Integration Act covers all persons immigrating to Finland who have a valid residence permit in Finland as referred to in the Aliens Act, whose right of residence has been registered, or who have been issued with a residence card under the Aliens Act. The Integration Act applies to an immigrant regardless of the grounds of immigration.
While all immigrants have the right to basic information about Finland and initial stage guidance and advice, individual integration measures and services are specified in cooperation with the immigrants on the basis of their and their families’ needs.
Emphasis on immigrants’ personal role
The Integration Act emphasises the immigrants’ personal role and input in integration. This is also reflected in the wording of the act. Integration process is a long-term and continuous process. The actual integration takes place in interaction with Finnish society, most essentially in everyday situations and local communities, including day-care centres, schools, leisure activities and workplaces.
Integration relies on families and communities
In addition to improving the preconditions for employment, the Integration Act places particular emphasis on measures that support the integration of families, children and young people. The home and the family are an important social network, and the family plays a key role in supporting integration.
Each immigrant belongs to different communities, and they become members of the Finnish society. Inclusion and good ethnic relations are important for society at large, and its general security and stability. Immigrants’ participation in civic activities and increasing dialogue between population groups are cross-cutting objectives of both the Integration Act and the Government Integration Programme.
Good to remember
- The Integration Act applies to immigrants who have moved to Finland and who are not Finnish citizens (foreigners and stateless persons).
- The Integration Act does not apply to asylum seekers, persons staying in Finland on a visa, or persons who are exempted from visa requirements. Neither does the act concern persons applying for their first residence permit before the permit has been issued.
- The Integration Act does not apply to persons with dual nationality if they have Finnish citizenship.
- The Integration Act does not apply to a child if one of the parents is Finnish, and the child has been granted Finnish citizenship.
- The Integration Act does apply to a child born to a foreign parent in Finland if the child has not been granted Finnish citizenship at birth. However, the Act does not apply to the parent of this child if the parent has been living in Finland for an extended period and has Finnish citizenship.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration (in Finnish)