Work-based immigration – Effectiveness and customer orientation of the immigration administration and recruitment of foreign labour in the health and social services sector

The authorities responsible for work-based immigration should focus on streamlining the permit processes of not only specialists but also employees and entrepreneurs as well as their family members and on the customer orientation of the permit system. To achieve the goals of work-based immigration the authorities should work more closely together and improve immigrants' language proficiency and professional competence.

The audit looked into authorities’ actions and administrative processes associated with work-based immigration. A particular aim was examining if the processes are efficient and customer oriented and if cooperation between the authorities is effective.

Finland’s population and the number of employed can only increase through immigration. Since 2003, Finnish Government Programmes have referred to promoting work-based immigration as a means of improving the demographic dependency ratio, bolstering the economy and alleviating the situation in sectors suffering from labour shortages.

The transfer of the administration of work-based immigration to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has resulted in goal-oriented efforts to develop the work permit processes. Permits for specialists and growth entrepreneurs are processed within two weeks set as the target. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is striving to accelerate the permit process for specialists even further using a fast track service pledge and the national D visa associated with it, which entered into force in June 2022. The audit found, however, that additional administrative measures and an assessment of the cost-benefit ratio are prerequisites for the full introduction of the D visa. According to Finnish missions abroad, only a fraction of the specialists applied for a D visa in the first months after it became available, and no great increase in this share is expected.

While the health and social services sector is affected by a major labour shortage, little or no action has been taken to promote work-based immigration. Permanent practices, knowledge bases and organisation should be created for anticipating competence and labour needs in the health and social services sector. The central and local government and business life should also work together to improve immigrants’ language proficiency and professional competence.