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The Finnish Immigration Service reports a sharp increase in the number asylum seekers last year. Some 6,000 applications were received, representing a rise of 48 percent. Requests for residence permits meanwhile amounted to 20,790 last year, indicating a drop of nine percent.

However, the number of minors arriving alone declined by 20 percent. Some 560 children minors arrived in Finland alone.

Most asylum seekers came from Iraq and Somalia in line with the previous year’s trend. The number of applicants from Bulgaria increased ninefold in comparison to 2008.

The Finnish Immigration Service made a total of 4,335 decisions relating to asylum applications. Some 1,373 applicants were allowed to stay. So called “Dublin cases,” where the applicant is allowed to return to another EU country amounted to 1,488.

Approximately 21,000 people applied for a residence permit in Finland in 2009, a drop of nine percent over the previous year. Those with family connections rose while work-related applications dropped almost by half. Just over eight of ten applications were granted.

Finland granted citizenship last year to 10,311 persons, three-quarters of whom were from an ethnic Finnish background or the descendents of Finns.

A total of 4,417 foreign residents applied for Finnish citizenship, with Russians, Somalis and Iraqis topping the list. About half of the applications were successful.

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