The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) admits unwanted delays in the processing of residence permits based on family grounds. The resolution of one in four of those requests, which according to the Finnish law should be all solved within nine months, is taking longer than legally stipulated, according to the statement made public by Migri, who apologizes to those affected.
"There are currently backlogs in the processing of residence permit applications based on family ties. According to law, these applications must be processed within nine months from the date on which the application was submitted. At the moment, the processing time is unfortunately longer for some of the applications".
"The processing time of nine months was exceeded in approximately every fourth application that was decided during the early part of 2019", admitted Migri in its customer bulletin dated 3 July.
The processing times vary depending on the type of the application. For example, the average processing times for applications of minors are shorter. However, the Immigration authority explained that now "the backlogs concern especially applications where the applicant has a Finnish spouse".
For those who want to calculate when the decisions are expected to be ready, Migri suggests to use its Processing Time Checker.
Impact on people's lives
Migri defends itself from the criticisms expressed on the internet by many users due to the delays by arguing that the backlogs of residence permit applications on the basis of family ties started to accumulate in 2017, when the Government decided to concentrate on its hands all permit matters for foreign nationals, included applications from the police. "During the same year, the number of asylum seekers and applications grew temporarily, which lead to a backlog that we could not completely clear", it explains.
The Finnish Immigration Service remarks that "we have tried to improve the situation by recruiting staff, and in 2019 we have reorganized our work to process applications more efficiently. Unfortunately, there are still backlogs of applications, and we apologize for the situation".
In its statement, the institution also claims to "understand that our decisions greatly impact people’s lives". For that reason, "we aim at processing applications as efficiently as possible", the bulletin says.
"Please, wait patiently"
The statement does not clarify when this process of "work reorganization" will be concluded and if it will be possible in the future to meet the legal deadlines. By now, the only recommendation made to the customers is wait and -implicitly- do not ask very much about the delays which are keeping their lives in suspense: "Please, wait patiently. We will contact you if additional information is needed for your application", says the bulletin.
Migri says that when processing applications, the Immigration officials always "pay attention to the best interest of children and the protection of family life". Residence permit applications on the basis of family ties may involve a situation where a child and another parent are apart from their family member during the application process "Unfortunately we cannot expedite the processing of an application due to this", the text explains.
80% of decisions positive
According to the official data published in Migri's website, the number of new residence permit applications on the basis of family ties was 11,036 in 2018.
The highest number of applications came from Russia (1,208), India (936), Iraq (846) and Somalia (558).
A total of 11,305 decisions were made in 2018. The majority of these decisions (approximately 80%) were positive.