Eligibility for Kela benefits is based on the same criteria for everyone
Asylum seekers become eligible for Kela benefits once they have a residence permit and are considered to be living in Finland permanently. This requires that they have completed the reception programme for asylum seekers. The cash reception allowance paid to asylum seekers is not provided by Kela.
The Finnish social security system is based around residence or employment in Finland. Citizenship is not relevant in the context of social security, which means that even Finnish citizens are not entitled to social security in Finland automatically. With certain exceptions, all permanent residents and those working in Finland for an extended period are entitled to social security benefits from Kela.
The range of persons who are considered to be moving to Finland permanently includes those who have been granted asylum. Persons who are granted a residence permit under the refugee quota are also considered to be moving to Finland permanently. The same applies to the family members of the above groups.
Filing an application with Kela after receiving a residence permit
Persons who have been granted a residence permit can apply for coverage under the Finnish social security system on Kela form Y77 or by using the online customer service system. They will receive a written decision on their application. A personal Kela Card and European Health Insurance Card can be issued to persons who are covered by the Finnish National Health Insurance system.
Those who have been granted asylum in Finland are eligible for the same Kela benefits and other social security services as all permanent residents. The decision on eligibility for Kela benefits cannot be made before asylum has been granted. While the asylum application is pending the applicant is not eligible for benefits from Kela.
Kela benefits available during integration
Like any other residents of Finland who are eligible for social security, refugee families living in Finland can get benefits from Kela. They may be eligible for child benefit, child home care allowance or housing allowance, as well as other benefits.
Individual refugees arriving in Finland
Individual refugees are eligible for the same benefits which are available to anyone who is living in Finland permanently and who is covered by the Finnish social security system. For example, if they are unable to find work immediately, they may be eligible for labour market subsidy.
Housing an asylum seeker in a private home
If a household in receipt of general housing allowance wishes to take in an asylum seeker who is registered at a reception centre, this does not affect the housing allowance being paid to the household. A person who is not covered by the Finnish social security system is not counted as a member of the household, which means that their temporary residence in the household does not affect the housing allowance.
Kela’s customers are entitled to free-of-charge interpreter assistance if they are unable to communicate with Kela staff in their own language or some other shared language. A Kela employee or an outside professional interpreter who speaks the relevant language may act as interpreter. Information about requesting interpreter assistance is available on Kela’s website at www.kela.fi/interpretation.
Infopankki.fi - assisting with integration
The Infopankki.fi site offers a variety of information about living in Finland, about Finnish society and government, and about the services available to residents. Kela and Infopankki have joined forces to produce material such as a comprehensive overview of the Finnish social security system. The site contains information in several languages.