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Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Who should be responsible for the subsistence of an elderly person who has moved into Finland? This question has surfaced when the Ministry of the Interior has been working on proposed amendments to the Aliens Act following the furore among Finns relating to the deportation decisions of two grandmothers - Egyptian citizen Eveline Fadayel and Russian citizen Irina Antonova - made by the Finnish Immigration Service. According to the draft bill, the grown-up child of an elderly immigrant parent will have to be able to provide for his or her livelihood in Finland, if the parent cannot support himself or herself. The purpose is to establish the subsistence possibilities when the parent in question is applying for a Finnish residence permit for the first time.

The subsistence requirement has attracted attention when the draft bill has been circulated to ministries and official bodies for comments. For example, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health regards the requirement as problematic. ”The requirement is based on a concept according to which grown-up children are responsible for the livelihood of their parents”, Permanent Secretary Kari Välimäki and Senior Officer Helena Kantola write in their statement. The MInistry points out that all residents of Finland are entitled to the social security benefits as well as social and health care services. The municipalities are in charge of organising and paying for them. Even the statements issued by the cities of Espoo and Vantaa comment that grown-up children cannot be ordered to support their parents in a way that is contradictory to the obligations of other citizens. According to the MInistry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland would be treating different immigrant groups unequally, if the entry into Finland could be granted on the basis of their children’s prosperity.

A total of a dozen or so authorities and organisations delivered their statements on the draft bill prepared by the Migration Department of the MInistry of the Interior by the deadline - Monday. Many of the statements called for various adjustments to the proposed amendments to the Aliens Act, but none of them contested the aim to loosen the practice in cases like those of Antonova and Fadayel. However, the Ombudsman for Minorities and the Legal Affairs Unit of the Ministry of the Interior argued that even without amendments, the present law would allow for a more lenient policy. According to the draft bill, one of the residence permit criteria would be - apart from the subsistence requirement - that the parent who is living alone in his or her home country should be significantly dependent on the grown-up child residing in Finland. The child in question would have to be a Finnish citizen and he or she would be obliged to pay for the subsistence of their parent in Finland. In March, the government agreed that the Aliens Act would be amended to allow for greater discretion in cases that require a humanitarian perspective.