Sunday 31.05.2020

Visa liberalization has become a trap for some Ukrainians

The Finnish Immigration Service is not ready for concessions due to exceptional situations. 
Photo: Pixabay/Hamedmehrnik.
Photo: Pixabay/Hamedmehrnik.

Some Ukrainian citizens came to Finland easily because of visa liberalization. However, A few dozen of them may soon have to stay in Finland illegally because they do not have the opportunity to leave the country in time due to coronavirus.

Timur Babkin, a member of the Ukrainian community, talked to the Finnish National Broadcasting Company (Yle) and said, “Among them are seasonal workers whose contract is coming to an end, as well as tourists.”

Babkin is currently in the village with his old mother. The Finnish authorities have urged Ukrainians to travel to Ukraine by air via Belarus

But for Babkin, that is not an option. “Yes, my mother would get to Minsk, but from then on it would be difficult. One should find a private ride to the Ukrainian border, and from there somehow miraculously get to my hometown. She simply would not survive such a journey,” explained Babkin.

The Minsk route is also not available to Anna Vyzir, who is in Finland with her family. She said, “We had thought of driving through Russia. Now the border is closed and if we flew to Minsk, we would have to leave the car here.”

Expensive application fee

An application for a residence permit can be made to the Finnish Immigration Service. The problem is the cost of the procedure.

According to Vyzir, “It costs 520 euros for an adult and 270 euros for a child. For my family, it is not the best option. And we can’t know if we’ll even get permits.”

Those who have entered the country visa-free will run into a much more difficult situation. The Finnish Immigration Service told that the only legal way to stay in Finland is to compile documents that prove that the person is unable to travel out of Finland. 

After that, you have to pay the application fee and wait for the decision of the authorities. The process is described on the agency's website. The question arises as to what to do if there is no money for a multi-hundred euro application fee.

Cases will be transferred to police

“In that case, the Finnish Immigration Service will not process the application. If a person does not obtain a permit to stay in Finland in time, his or her case will be transferred to the police,” said Raisa Bernards, from the Finnish Immigration Service.

The Finnish Immigration Service is not ready for concessions due to exceptional situations. The agency invokes the law. And the police also rely on the same law.

Police Inspector Ari Jokinen pointed out that, “A person can be charged with a violation of the Aliens Act, which can lead to a fine and deportation from Finland.”

In addition, those staying illegally in Finland are threatened by a temporary travel ban to the EU.

EU recommendations not taken into account

Timur Babkin is thoroughly acquainted with the matter. He found an EU recommendation urging member states to put themselves in the position of those who are unable to leave the country.

According to Babkin, “The document calls for people not to be punished. For example, they would not be subject to an entry ban or a fine.”

However, the Finnish Immigration Service said such recommendations are not taken into account in Finland.

According to the latest information, Ukraine is preparing to take its citizens home on a charter flight, but no exact date is known. At the same time, the visa-free stay for some Ukrainians has already expired. So far, it is unclear whether they will be deported and how they will succeed during the quarantine.