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|Social conditions for asylum seekers|
Social Conditions for Asylum Seekers
Asylum seekers are refered to a reception centre after their arrival in Finland. Allocation of accommodation depends on the availability of places in the centres. Asylum seekers may either stay in a reception centre or find their own accommodation. But only living in the reception centre is free of charge. There are 13 reception centres and one detention centre in Finland. Centres are run either by the local municipalities, the state or by the Finnish Red Cross. Whenever possible, families are accommodated separately but single people may have to share rooms and facilities. The unaccompanied minors are accommodated in special centres for children, so-called group homes. Generally, asylum seekers cook their own meals. Asylum seekers are allowed to stay in the reception centres during the whole procedure, inclusive of the appeal process.
Asylum seekers whose identity and travel route cannot be verified can be detained upon arrival in Finland. Only detention centre is in Helsinki.
Freedom of movement
Asylum seekers are free to travel within Finland.
Asylum seekers are entitled to a living allowance, which is intended to cover all living expenses, including food and clothing, but not accommodation (available free of charge in the reception centres). The allowance is based on the basic supplementary social allowance granted to nationals, although its amount is reduced by 30% for an adult and 15% for a child on account of the accommodation and other services provided in the reception centre. Those staying outside the reception centre also receive the reduced allowance. Asylum seekers are not entitled to child benefit or any other social benefits.
Asylum seekers are entitled to work without permit three months after they have left an asylum application. More and more asylum seekers find work in Finland. Salary from the work affects the living allowance of the asylum seeker.
Work and training activies in the reception centre
Work and training activities are also organised in the reception centres. Asylum seekers who refuse to participate in the organised activities may have their living allowance reduced. The work activities proposed in the centres may include cleaning and repairing the reception facilities, office work, organising children, hobbies or cultural activities, and so on. The training activities in the centres usually consist of language tuition and information on the Finnish society and the legal system. Asylum seekers may also attend courses outside the reception centres, such as computer work and handicraft. In some cases, asylum seekers may organise training activities in the centres themselves.
All reception centres offer language tuition in either Finnish or Swedish. Attendance is not compulsory. However, an asylum seeker who lives at a reception centre and repeatedly refuses, without justified cause, training activities that promote employment, may lose part of the social allowance.
Children of asylum seekers are entitled to attend Finnish comprehensive school (from seven to sixteen years of age). In many schools, children are placed in special preparatory classes for foreign children where they are first taught Finnish or Swedish before going into a normal school class. Adult asylum seekers are also free to apply for a place in any school, institute or university. It is up to the school whether or not to accept them as students. Asylum seekers are not entitled to student financial aid.
Access to health services
A nurse is attached to each reception centre, and on arrival all asylum seekers undergo basic health screening. They have access to municipal – and in special cases also private – healthcare if they require urgent medical treatment or essential dental treatment. These services are free. Asylum seekers in need of urgent treatment due to torture may also go to the special Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims in Helsinki or in Oulu.
The Refugee Advice Centre provides legal aid and advice for asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in Finland. The staff of the reception centre helps asylum seekers to contact the Refugee Advice Centre.
Refugee Advice Centre