Immigrants in North Ostrobothnia

The proportion of foreign-language speakers in North Ostrobothnia is approximately 2.7% of the population. About 11 127 foreign-language speakers are living in the region, over 70% of them in Oulu. Immigrants are mainly drawn to North Ostrobothnia by work and family reasons. The largest foreign-language groups in the region are Russian, Swedish, English, Arabic and Chinese speakers.

Immigrants who left their countries for humanitarian reasons have also been arriving in Oulu, Pudasjärvi, Siikajoki and Raahe for many years. A reception centre administrated by the central government has operated in Oulu since 1991. In 2008, a unit of the Oulu Reception Centre was opened in Pudasjärvi. The Ruukki reception centre in Siikajoki opened its doors for the first time in 1993. Since that year, the centre has been closed down on a few occasions. The latest municipalities to receive quota refugees in North Ostrobothnia are Kuusamo and Utajärvi. The first quota refugees arrived in Kuusamo in autumn 2015 and in Utajärvi in spring 2016.

A valid integration programme in 29 municipalities

Of the 30 municipalities in North Ostrobothnia all have a valid integration programme.

The Immigration Strategy for North Ostrobothnia defines the vision 2020 of immigration in the region as follows: "North Ostrobothnia is the most pluralistic and attractive region in Finland where interculturality is part of daily life. Organisations in the region engage in goal-oriented work to ensure that employers have flexible access to labour, which contributes to strengthening the region’s competitiveness in the global market. North Ostrobothnia is a good place to live, work, enterprise and study in for individuals and families with all types of backgrounds.”

The ELY Centres for North Ostrobothnia and Kainuu have a joint Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations, a committee for immigration affairs as well as a cooperation group on preparedness for large-scale immigration.