Wednesday 5/12/21

Victims of Migri chaos call for urgent reform to reduce waiting times

They argue that Migri's system creates a huge backlog and residence permits are delayed over the longest processing time, blocking applicants' access to civil rights.
People queuing on Friday morning outside Migri's office in Helsinki. Photo: Bambi Dang.
People queuing on Friday morning outside Migri's office in Helsinki. Photo: Bambi Dang.

A group of immigrants and some Finns who have suffered due to the slowness and bureaucratic chaos of Migri have started to demand solutions from the government.

Some of them have experienced long hours waiting in the cold -sometimes with their little children- in front of the offices of the Finnish Immigration Service. Others complain about the endless processing times and the paralysis that has meant for their life projects having to wait for a resolution from immigration officials.

They say bureaucratic slowness has caused some people to miss semesters of studies or jobs and even the separation of spouses. Some applicants couldn't bear it anymore. They have given up and gone.

"It seems like the message from Migri to immigrants is 'Go home. We don’t want you here',” says Julia Hsiao-Pei Liao, a student from Taiwan at Aalto University.

Julia says that, like her, many others feel "unwelcome and unwanted" when they have to deal with Migri. And that sentiment has led her to develop the #ReformMigri campaign, which will be officially launched on 4 May to collect signatures in favor of an in-depth reform of the immigration agency.

The campaign promoters argue that in Finland a residence permit for job seekers after graduation takes up to 4 months with a paper application only; a first work permit takes 3 to 8 months; registering EU residence takes more than a month.

"While Estonia processes a long-stay visa in 30 days, Migri’s system creates a huge backlog that residence permits are delayed over the longest processing time frequently, which blocks applicants’ access to civil rights severely," they claim.

The proposals

The campaign aims to improve Migri's service system and procedures. And, at the same time, put an end to the "difficulties, stress and pain" that the current operation of the agency is causing its customers, according to the website launched by the promoters.

They also want authorities to realize that a streamlined and friendly immigration service can help Finland compete to attract the world's best talent.

Their proposals include the development of a transparent action plan to improve the service, an increase in service points to avoid congestion and long trips and redesign the reservation system.

The campaign is supported by a diverse group of people, including other immigrant students, graduates, professionals, entrepreneurs and the renowned Finnish mobile game developer and businessman Peter Vesterbacka.

In the past, Vesterbacka has expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of Migri, whose slowness, he says, causes difficulties for companies when hiring the highly skilled professionals they need to compete in an increasingly dynamic world.

"Having to wait for months and months for global talent to clear the Finnish immigration bureaucracy is a massive competitive disadvantage that Finland as a nation can't afford," he emphasizes.

More information on this initiative can be found on its recently launched website and Facebook page.