How do I get started?Study our Homestay Handbook.After that, read the frequently asked questions. Contact us, if you still have some questions.
For how long do I have to be prepared to host?The procedure of applying asylum takes six months at the shortest, and the processing time may extend. We hope that the homestay last all the procedure of applying asylum. The asylum seekers come from very difficult circumstances, and they need an opportunity to build confidential and dedicated relationships. Sometimes also shorter hosting is needed. Contact your closest local group, and tell what kind of hosting you are interested in. The details of every homestay are always discussed by the host, the asylum seeker, and his/her social worker.
What is the host obliged to provide?The host is bound to offer the asylum seeker a safe home–nothing else. The host does not have to support the asylum seeker economically. Every asylum seeker has been appointed a social worker. Also, an asylum seeker staying at a home, has a right to social services, health care and juridical help, that his/her reception center provides. He/she gets a monthly reception allowance, that covers food and other necessities. Naturally, the asylum seeker and the host are free to help each other in anything they agree on.
What kind of person is moving to my home?The asylum seekers form a very diverse group of people whose backgrounds and ages vary. Their level of education can be anything from university degree to illiteracy. Some of them are multilingual, and some speak only their mother tongue. However, according to our experience, people from very different backgrounds often have more things connecting than separating them, and you can make friends without a common language.
For a host, it is good to be aware of the difficult circumstances that asylum seekers come from. Some are escaping threat of war, torture or persecution, some have lived in the middle of battles. Leaving your home is hard in any circumstances, and the journey to Finland has been very long and difficult for many Asylum seekers. It is important to offer enough support, and on the other hand, own space and peaceful environment. A host can be there for an asylum seeker that needs someone to talk to, but you don't have to be specialized in psychic traumas, to be a good host. Special psychosocial help is provided by the reception center, if need be.
Is good for an asylum seeker and the one hosting him/her, to keep in mind that some asylum seekers will get a negative decision. It is advisable to be mentally prepared for that.
Who is responsible for the success of the homestay?The basis of the homestay is the contract between the host and the asylum seeker. Homestay Network brings the hosts and the asylum seekers together and gives advice on practical matters, but the parties of the contract are the host and the asylum seeker. Asylum seekers have right to choose their living place themselves, and their reception center is responsible to offer the social and health services for them.
What kind of support does Homestay Network offer?Homestay Network brings the host and the asylum seeker together. The members of the network give practical advice, answer questions and offer peer support when facing new situations. Facebook group of Homestay Network is a good forum to have a conversation about homestay–there aren't many problems that over 4,000 active members cannot find a solution to.
Is the host paid for hosting?Today, the host does not get economical support for hosting an asylum seeker.
In what kind of home can an asylum seeker be lodged in? Does he/she need a room of his/her own?Hosting is a question of the relationship between people as much as walls. Think about, what kind of conditions you would be willing to live in, for several months. A good place can be many things, a whole room, a living-room sofa or a second floor of a house. Think about yourself, too. How much peace do you need? The space offered to the asylum seeker, must be livable around the year.
If you doubt weather you can offer enough space in your home, you can contact your local group. Tell about your situation and home, and discuss the practical questions together.
How to deal with cultural differences?A person representing a foreign culture is primarily an individual, that might have more in common with you than you would think. For example, cooking, common hobbies and interests or for instance playing with children have proved efficient ways to bring people together despite the background.
Sometimes cultural differences start already at the outside door. Should I take the shoes off? Should we shake hands or hug? Can I give the gift with my left hand? Differences and challenges cannot be avoided, but at most times you can handle them with humor and flexibility. Discussing cultural differences teaches a lot, and it is often very entertaining!
Can I host an unaccompanied child or teenager?Homestay Network does not arrange homestay for unaccompanied minors. There are special requirements considering unaccompanied minors as asylum seekers. For example, the terms of the child welfare must be followed. However, we can arrange homestay for a minor accompanied by a family member or relative.
What if I don't know any other languages besides Finnish? What if the asylum seeker doesn't speak English?It can be challenging, to live together without a common language. However, we have organized many happy homestays where the host and the asylum seeker have not had a common language. Good will, Google translator and gesturing will take you a long way. It can happen, that not having a common language makes the asylum seeker learn Finnish faster! In the beginning an interpreter can help when agreeing about practical things. Your local group may be able to help you find an interpreter, or you can look for one for example in Homestay Network's Facebook group.
Who do I have to inform, if I lodge an asylum seeker in my home?Every asylum seeker is assigned in a reception center, because the reception center provides for the services and the rights he/she has. To ensure these services, the homestay should not start before the official procedure of applying asylum has begun.
You must give a home stay contract, that both parties have signed, to the reception center. If the apartment in question is rented by the host, you must also take an extract of the register of occupants (talonkirjaote in Finnish) to the reception center.
A person renting out an apartment has no right to restrict the number of people living in there. If you pay for water according to how many people live in the apartment, you must tell about the new residents to the owner of the apartment.
Can I ask the asylum seeker to pay me rent or for example do cleaning as a payment for lodging?Homestay Network is not a renting service. The asylum seeker is not a tenant nor is he/she maid. Lodging is voluntary, and you have no right to ask for compensation in the form of money or work.
The host and the asylum seeker agree on how the everyday domestic work is shared. It is advisable to discuss also this in the beginning of homestay.
What should I do if the hosting creates problems or my situation changes while hosting?Either party can end the homestay at any moment. In case you face problems, you can get support from Homestay Network local support or internet pages.
What is the relationship between Homestay Network, the Finnish Immigration Service, Red Cross and the other parties responsible for reception centers?All the reception centers operate under the Finnish Immigration Service (Maahanmuuttovirasto, Migri). The party responsible of arranging the reception center varies according to locality. Many centers are run by Red Cross. Homestay Network cannot answer to all the questions concerning different reception centers or hosts, because the practices are different in different places.
Does an asylum seeker moving into a private home lose some privileges or services provided by reception centers? Does homestay slow the procedure of applying asylum?An asylum seeker has a right to the services of the reception center whether ha/she is living in the center or in a home. He/she must tell the center where he/she is living at, and under what kind of arrangement. The way of living does not affect the length or the result of asylum procedure in any way.
Are there some health issues that as asylum seeker must consider?Today, some asylum seekers coming to Finland, come from areas, where vaccinations have not been carried out fully. We recommend that all the people living in the same apartment confirm that they have been vaccinated for polio and pertussis.
Everyone–including asylum seekers–living in Finland must have resistance against tetanus and diphtheria. In addition to that, all adults should have resistance against measles, rubella and mumps. That can be achieved either by recovering from the disease or taking two doses of MPR vaccination.
The vaccinations for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and the MPR vaccination are free of charge.
You can find more information about vaccinations in THL's article (in Finnish).
What reasons could I have against hosting an asylum seeker in my home?If there is more than one people living in the host's home, it is essential, that all people living in the apartment want the asylum seeker to move in.
We don't recommend hosting if your situation of life is very distressing or if there is violence, alcohol problem, drug abuse or serious mental problems in your home.
I get benefits from Kela. Does hosting an asylum seeker effect those?A person that is not in the Finnish social system is not counted in the household, and thus an asylum seeker temporary living in the apartment does not effect the housing allowance asumistuki, Kela has informed that hosting an asylum seeker doesn't effect the housing allowances of a household that is granted general housing allowance (yleinen asumistuki).
I can not offer an apartment, but I still would like to help. What can I do?Homestay Network is concentrated on in coordinating and supporting. You can take part in the network in many ways apart from hosting.
Different kind of help is provided by for example Finnish Red Cross (Suomen Punainen Risti, SPR), congregations, Refugee Hospitality Club RHC, Support for Asylum Seekers (Turvapaikanhakijoiden Tuki, tutu), Finn Church Aid FCA (Kirkon Ulkomaanapu, KUA) ja Save the Children (Pelastakaa Lapset).