New plans to speed up residence permit applications for non-EU workers

Ministers identified the problems behind backlogs, especially in the capital city region.

File picture of people waiting for an interview / Credit: iStock

The Finnish government wants to make it easier for people who come to the country for work to get residence permits.

It’s potentially good news for anyone who moved from outside the EU to Finland for a job, but then faces a long wait for their residence permit application to be processed.

A new pilot project is looking at ways to solve the bottlenecks in processing applications for employment-based residence, and finds that one of the biggest problems is cooperation between the various authorities involved in the process.

One way to improve the situation could be to develop new electronic service points for applicants.

“A key issue seems to be a lack of joint coordination and development efforts among the relevant authorities. We need to work together to develop our residence permit processes comprehensively and on a long-term basis. If we attach too much importance to details, we will lose sight of the big picture” says Minister of Employment Jari Lindström (Blue), the minister in charge of integration policies.

Explaining the process

When someone applies for a residence permit, their application is assessed on whether the new job pays enough to let them live independently in Finland without relying on social security; if the job is temporary or ongoing; whether there is suitable workers in Finland or the European Economic Area are available to do the job instead.

After that, the Finnish Immigration Service will decide to approve the resident permit application or not. But officials think it takes too much time right now for that decision to come.

The EU says the standard processing time should be just four months, but it hasn’t been so efficient in many parts of Finland.

“The queue of applications has piled up, for example, in Uusimaa region where processing might take something like eight months now” says Jorma Vuorio, Director General a tthe Minister of Interior.

Vuorio also believes that by focusing on some key areas, which aren’t always the ministry’s fault, the waiting times could be cut.

“Nearly half of applications are incompletely filled, so I believe, if we focused on better instructions for example for applicants, we could tackle the processing jam” he tells News Now Finland.

Slow system impacts companies

Finland’s Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen also thinks the system is too slow as it currently stands, and that can have an impact not just on workers, but for their employers as well.

“Each employee arriving in Finland is an important asset for their prospective employer, and delays in the residence permit process can at worst jeopardise companies’ operations” says Mykkänen in a statement.

“The migration authorities have actively developed electronic services. Our goal is that by using these good practices and tools more extensively we can speed up the residence permit processes” he adds.

The reforms could speed everything up and introduce new efficiencies for the 10,000 people who apply for work-based residence permits every year.

There are some 8000 applications for non-specialist work; 1500 applications for specialists like professional athletes, artists or performers and business managers; 600 applications for seasonal workers in agriculture and tourism; and a handful of other applications from intra-company transfers, start-up entrepreneurs and company trainees.