Finland

Legal status and visa requirements for those who were forced to leave Ukraine

Since 2017, Ukrainian nationals with biometric passports have been able to enter the EU without a visa for short-term stays, per EU law. Ukrainian nationals who do not have a biometric passport are also exempt from the requirement of a residence title (visa) for entry and stay in Finland.

Ukrainians, and people who have fled the war in Ukraine, may enter Finland holding various types of immigration statuses. The right to receive healthcare and social welfare services is determined on the basis of their residence status in Finland.

Refugee status/ asylum seeker status/ temporary protection status

Ukrainians and people who have fled the war in Ukraine may enter Finland holding various types of immigration statuses. The right to receive healthcare and social welfare services is determined on the basis of their residence status in Finland.

The estimated processing time for temporary protection applications is currently about two weeks. Once the decision has been made, the Finnish Immigration Service orders a residence permit card for the applicant. It currently takes about two weeks for residence permit cards to be ready. This means that a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine will receive a copy of the decision and his/her residence permit card approximately one month from the date on which he/she submit his/her application.

Citizens of a country that is not part of the European Union or party to the Schengen Agreement or a stateless person, who have resided in Ukraine legally, and are unable to return to their country of origin safely and permanently can apply for protection in Finland and get the same services as the Ukrainians.

Learn more about staying in Finland:

  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland:
    1. Citizenship matters tel. 0295 790 604
    2. Residence permits based on studies or work tel. 0295 790 602
    3. Residence permits for family members tel. 0295 790 603 and
    4. Other residence permits and permit matters tel. 0295 419 600
  • Chatbot
    The Finnish Immigration Service’s Kamu chatbot is a virtual customer servant that utilises artificial intelligence. Kamu is available on all pages on the migri.fi website. You can enter your question in either English or Finnish.

Organisations:

Access to the healthcare services

Fees

On the basis of temporary protection, a person who has received a residence permit may be charged a similar customer fee following the Customer Fees Act as a person residing in Finland.

  • The fee is to be decided by the director of the reception centre. (Section 32 of the Reception Act).
  • The costs of services purchased from public health care are billed to the reception centre that purchased the service.

Where can the Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine go for the following healthcare services?

Ukrainians and people who have fled the war in Ukraine may enter Finland holding various types of immigration statuses. The right to receive healthcare and social welfare services is determined on the basis of their residence status in Finland.

If a person is applying for temporary protection or asylum, the first place to go should be the reception centre.

People receiving temporary protection have the same rights to healthcare services as people who have a municipality of residence in Finland (section 26, subsection 2 of the Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection and on Identifying and Assisting Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings). The same applies if applying for asylum.

The responsibility is on the reception centre where the person is first registered. Reception centres can arrange the services either themselves or by procuring the service from a public or private operator. In practice, municipalities and hospital districts provide special services for special medical care, oral health care, maternity, and child health clinics, etc., as there is little private production of these services available on the market. However, these services can also be obtained from a private service provider.

A link to a contact information sheet can be found here.

The reception centre at which Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine are registered organises healthcare services for them.

There is a nurse or a public health nurse at every reception centre. If a Ukrainian needs medical help, he/she will send you to a doctor to receive the care and treatment needed.

Applicants under 18 years of age are entitled to healthcare services on the same grounds as children who have a municipality of residence in Finland.

Acute treatment

If a person hasn’t registered and applied for temporary protection or asylum: these people have the right to urgent healthcare services, the organisation of which falls under the responsibility of the relevant municipality/hospital district.

The services can be found at eu-healthcare.fi

Chronic/long-term treatment

After receiving a residence permit because of temporary protection, you have the right to access the same healthcare services as those permanently resident in Finland and you pay the same price as the Finnish citizens.

Health care professionals speak Finnish, Swedish and English. If the patient doesn’t speak any of those languages, he/she has a right to a public service interpreter.

The public service interpreting is provided by health care institutions and it’s free for Ukrainians. kotoutuminen.fi

Visiting family doctors

There is no family doctor system in Finland.

Services for People Living with HIV

HIV-testing

  • Testing is free of charge at public health centres as part of public health care that is available for registered Ukrainians with temporary protection status. Learn more about HIV testing. Hivpoint Infoline 0207465705.
  • Some NGOs provide free and anonymous rapid HIV-tests.

The Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine can get HIV-testing free of charge in: public health care centres, in STI clinics (venereal diseases outpatient clinics), in occupational health care (if working and entitled to this service), in student health care (if a student), and in NGOs like Hivpoint, Positiiviset, Protukipiste (for sex workers) and some low threshold centres for people who inject drugs.

More information can be obtained via the website: hus.fi

About living with HIV:

Antiretroviral treatment (ART)

People on ART can bring for their personal use, their own medication in a quantity corresponding to no more than three months’ use. They should also take with them the prescriptions, a patient instruction sheet printed out by their doctor, or a summary of their prescriptions. Having these documents is helpful but not necessary.

In Finland, the treatment and care for HIV is conducted within special health care at the infection clinics of either central hospitals or university hospitals. The place for treatment is determined based on where the person with HIV lives. When the HIV infection is diagnosed, the person is given a referral to special health care. Special health care involves the necessary lab tests, meeting with an infectious disease specialist, and possibly starting antiretroviral treatment. One can get their ART from those units, but a referral is needed. Ask assistance primarily from the reception centre. NGOs such as Hivpoint or Positiiviset can also help in the matter.

There is no universal access to HIV treatment and care in Finland, so if the person does not have an asylum or temporary protection status the treatment and care is not available for free.

The Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine can receive ART free of charge. The municipality is responsible for the costs of treatment of HIV infection.

How can minors get treatment

Minors can get tested and get ART; however, parental permission is required for persons younger 16 years old.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

People with a substantial HIV risk (men who have sex with men and trans* persons; partners of people living with HIV etc.) can get PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for free. However, it must be prescribed by a doctor from the Finnish public health care. Please note that only those who have access to the Finnish public health care system will get PrEP for free. There is no minimum age for receiving HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in Finland. However, the doctor will evaluate the need for this kind of medication. Ask for assistance primarily in the reception centre. Within the public healthcare system, infectious disease and STI policlinics can prescribe PrEP.

Depending on where in Finland a person is staying, the waiting period to get PrEP might be over 6 months.

There are no time limits for PrEP-use. One can use PrEP
1) taking one pill every day at the same time or
2) on event basis (“on demand”).

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

HIV PEP is recommended, if one does not know if their sexual partner is HIV-positive or whether they are on effective HIV medication, and they did not use a condom. The medication is taken as a 28-day course.

The Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine can receive HIV PEP free of charge in Finland.

The need is evaluated by a doctor. Ask for assistance primarily in the reception centre. Any doctor can determine the need for PEP after which a referral is made to a doctor specialized in infectious diseases.

There is no minimum age for receiving HIV PEP in Finland.

Services for People Living with Hepatitis B/C

Hepatitis B/C testing, hepatitis B vaccination, and hepatitis B/C treatment availability

People receiving temporary protection have the same rights to healthcare services as people who have a municipality of residence in Finland.

Reception centres provide health care services, so one can talk about hepatitis B/C testing in the reception centre. The municipality is responsible for the costs of research and treatment of hepatitis B/C. Hepatitis B vaccinations costs 85-150 EUR. One can have the vaccination for free if they belong to one of risk groups listed here: haemophiliacs receiving regular treatment, intravenous drug users, persons close to intravenous drug users including family members, housemates and sexual partners, and men who have sex with men.

Populations at higher risk of getting hepatitis B are: haemophiliacs receiving regular treatment, intravenous drug users, persons close to intravenous drug users including family members, housemates and sexual partners, and men who have sex with men. The hepatitis B vaccine may not be administered to a person who has had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction following a previous dose of a hepatitis A and B combination vaccine or a vaccine containing similar components. The vaccination should be postponed if the person has a fever or febrile infection.

The most common virus strain in Finland is hepatitis C, which is mainly among people who use drugs. Successful treatment of hepatitis C requires commitment to treatment because the development of drug resistance is possible.

Reception centres provide health care services for Ukrainians, so if a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine cannot provide medical history of hepatitis B vaccination or hepatitis B/C treatment they should talk about their situation in the reception centre.

More information can be found:

Support systems (harm reduction/safer use, social support, or psychosocial support) available for the Ukrainians undergoing therapy for hepatitis C or related liver diseases

The Finnish Kidney and Liver Association supports people with hepatitis B/C and their relatives and monitors their rights. muma.fi

From this website one can find all harm reduction sites (for example, needle and syringe exchange, social support, and HIV and hepatitis testing for free): vinkki.info

Tuberculosis services

If the person has TB symptoms:

It is recommended that all those arriving from Ukraine are offered tuberculosis screening, which includes an x-ray of the lungs and a symptom survey. thl.fi

Reception centres provide health care services for Ukrainians, so if a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine has symptoms of TB, they should talk about them in the reception centre. This also applies to children
migri.fi
stm.fi/en

If TB was already diagnosed in Ukraine and the person needs to continue treatment, they  should contact the respective reception centre as soon as possible and they will organise the treatment. This is relevant as well for those who with directly observed treatment (DOT)/ directly observed Video treatment (VDOT), or those who started the TB treatment for multidrug-resistant TB in Ukraine and need to continue in Finland.

Non-medical support

A Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine and is on TB treatment can find non-medical support on the webpage tuberkuloosi.fi maintained by Finnish Lung Health Association.

If a person has a Ukrainian prescription for TB treatment medication…

Reception centres provide health care services for Ukrainians, so if a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine is on TB treatment and has a prescription from their doctor in Ukraine; they should talk about collecting the medicines at the reception centre. TB treatment is free of charge in Finland.

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination for children

Reception centres provide health care services for Ukrainians. If a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine wants their child to be vaccinated with BCG, they  should talk about the matter in the reception centre.

Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) Services

Medication rules

  • People entering Finland from outside the Schengen area (including Ukrainians) are only allowed to bring their take-home OAT oral medication for a maximum of 14 days and only for personal use (i.e. no transports for friends.) with proof of prescription from the prescribing doctor, which is stated by the government regulation (Rus language available).

Additional regulations:

Maximum permitted amount of buprenorphine for the detoxification or substitution treatment of opioid dependence 480 mg from the Schengen countries, 224 mg from the other countries.

Maximum permitted amount of methadone 1200 mg from the Schengen countries, 560 mg from other countries.

 

  • It is important that Ukrainian OAT patients bring their doctor’s prescription, and, if possible, they should also bring the international certificate. More information here.
  • To get the dosage, the best option is to visit reception centres where they will receive advice on where to get it.
  • Please note, that the person needs to be registered in the country to have access OAT prescriptions.

What OAT drugs are available in the country?

Either methadone or the combination of naloxone and buprenorphine can be used in OAT. The choice of substitution treatment will be based on the specialised doctor’s evaluation.

See details at the website 

OAT treatment fees

Going for special counselling first is the procedure in Finland. Most likely the person needs a referral that can be received from reception centres.

People on OAT (people travelling / moving to Finland) do not need to wait for all documentation to be ready to receive their dosage. But the information about this process is more easily available at reception centres.

Take-home dosages availability

See info: kaypahoito.fi

Minimum age for people who use drugs to receive OAT

One has to be at least 18 years old to receive OAT in Finland.

Ehyt ry Infoline 080090045

Useful links to follow on OAT:

Sources

General requirements and access to healthcare

HIV

Hepatitis B/C

TB

OAT