Frequently asked questions

What does voluntary return mean?

Voluntary return refers to a system where a foreign national who has applied for international protection, returns to their home country or to a third country in which they have a residence permit, on a voluntary basis. An individual can choose to return while their asylum-seeking process is pending or after it has been completed. A voluntary return is recommended as the primary method for individuals who are not granted a residence permit or do not possess the preconditions of acquiring an asylum in the receiving country.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) and the reception centre at which the returnee was registered are responsible for the practical arrangements of the return. In matters concerning voluntary return, the closest co-operative partner of the Finnish Immigration Service is the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM makes the travel arrangements, provides guidance for returnees, and sees to the needs of any special groups. The Finnish Immigration Service engages in cooperation with many service providers in the countries of return. These are international and local organisations that assist the Finnish Immigration Service in ensuring successful returns.

The system of voluntary returns is based on the Aliens Act and the Act on Reception. They are supplemented by a Decree issued by the Ministry of the Interior, which contains a more detailed framework of the return protocol, including the monetary amounts of return assistance.What is return assistance?

What is return assistance?

Financial assistance is granted to a returnee without means for a voluntary return. The purpose of return assistance is to help the returnee to reintegrate to their home country. The return assistance will cover the returnee’s flights to the home country, assistance for the immediate expenses following the return and, especially in the case of the larger sum, support for re-integration, such as establishing a business or in similar efforts.What are the components of return assistance?

What are the components of return assistance?

The assistance includes travel expenses, travel arrangements, and the assistance granted for the returnee to help with re-integration. This can include cash assistance or commodity assistance.

What are the components of financial assistance?

The financial assistance is either cash assistance or commodity assistance.

Cash assistance means money paid in cash, of which 200 euros is paid in Finland and the remaining sum in the country of return.

Commodity assistance refers to services, products or commodities that will help the returnee’s re-integration. You can use commodity assistance to rent facilities or acquire equipment needed for starting a business, renting a home, paying school tuition fees, or purchasing health care services. If you are thinking about applying for commodity assistance, it is a good idea to consider the kinds of opportunities available to you in your home country. Go through the following questions:

– What kind of situation awaits you on your return?

– What did you use to do in your home country?

– What will you need after you return to your home country?

– How could you make the most of the assistance granted to you?

The reception centre will offer you advice on how the assistance can be used and the arrangements concerning the commodity assistance. Commodity assistance will be offered via a reliable service provider in the country of your return, and you will work in co-operation with the service provider.

How much financial assistance is available to me?

The amount of available assistance depends on your country of return and your individual situation. The amount of assistance is determined by the Decree on Assisted Voluntary Return issued by the Ministry of the Interior.

The individual circumstances of each customer are taken into account when the amount is granted. It is possible to grant increased assistance, decreased assistance or to leave an applicant without assistance.

When do I have to decide if I want to apply for cash or commodity assistance?

You have to select the type of assistance upon the submission of the application, i.e. in Finland. Once you have returned, these selections cannot be changed. You can change the selection after you have submitted the application, as long as you do it before your return while you are still in Finland.

When can I apply for return assistance?

You can apply for return assistance at any stage of the asylum-seeking process.

Where can I submit my return assistance application?

Asylum-seekers must submit their return assistance applications at the reception centre where they are registered as customers.

I am no longer eligible to receive reception services and I have stayed in the country illegally. Can I still apply for return assistance?

Yes, you can. In these cases, you must submit the application to the Finnish Immigration Service. Please contact us at: return@migri.fi.

Am I eligible for return assistance?

The prerequisites of receiving assistance include permanent return and a need for assistance. Permanent return means that you must withdraw all your pending applications or appeals regarding asylum or other types of residence permits. You must be returning to a country where you will be able to – and plan to – live after your return. You will only be eligible to receive the assistance if you cannot afford to pay for the expenses of your return yourself. In principle, you can only receive return assistance once, so if you have received assistance for your return from Europe on an earlier occasion, you cannot be granted it again.

I first came to Finland to apply for a residence permit based on employment, but my application was rejected. Can I receive return assistance?

Return assistance is only available to individuals who have applied for international protection in Finland. If you have not applied for international protection in Finland, you are not eligible for return assistance.

I have applied for international protection in Finland but was given a negative decision with regard to my application. Afther this, I was granted a residence permit for one year based on employment. Now I have received a negative decision on my application for an extended permit and a decision for deportation to my home country. Can I still receive return assistance?

If you have had a residence permit for your stay in Finland before, but it has not been extended, you are usually ineligible for return assistance granted by the Finnish Immigration Service. However, you can request assistance from the Social Services of your municipality. In more complex cases, you can contact the Finnish Immigration Service for more information at: return@migri.fi.

I have refugee / subsidiary protection status in Finland. Am I eligible for return assistance?

No, usually not. However, you can contact the Finnish Immigration Service for more information at: return@migri.fi. If your status for subsidiary protection has been cancelled, it may be possible to receive return assistance. However, you cannot receive return assistance if you hold a valid residence permit in Finland. You can also request for assistance from the Social Services of your municipality.

How can I get the return assistance granted to me?

If you have selected cash as the only type of assistance, you will be paid 200 euros while you are in Finland. The remaining sum of the assistance will be paid at the IOM office in your home country. After your return, you must contact the IOM office and schedule an appointment for receiving the assistance. IOM will provide you the contact information when you leave Finland.

If you have selected commodity assistance, you will first receive 200 euros in Finland prior to your return. Once you have arrived in your country of return, please contact the service provider assigned to you, and they can arrange the commodity assistance for you. The commodity assistance will be paid to you in accordance with the plan prepared in cooperation with you. In your country of return, an additional cash payment of 300/500 euros will be paid to you during your first appointment with the service provider.

I want to return to my home country voluntarily, but I do not have a passport. What should I do?

IOM will make arrangements for your return trip and help you in obtaining the required travel documents. The process depends on your return trip. For some countries, Finnish authorities can issue the required documents for return. However, the embassy of your home country will usually want to identify you before issuing a temporary passport to you.

Can I withdraw my decision on voluntary return?

You can withdraw your decision to return any time, even at the airport just before your flight.

What is the difference between voluntary return and refusal of entry?

If you choose to return voluntarily, you will have time to prepare for your departure, and you will travel as an ordinary passenger on a regular flight. You will have the opportunity to plan your return, make plans for the time following your return and contact the people you know in your home country. You can receive return assistance for reintegration.

Refusal of entry is carried out by the police. You are not necessarily informed of the date of your refusal of entry and do not have the chance to prepare yourself. The police will choose the manner of refusal of entry. You will not be able to plan your return and cannot receive return assistance for your re-integration.

Request for more information at your reception centre or from the Finnish Immigration Service at return@migri.fi.