Opposition criticises Finland’s move to tighten up visa rules for Russians

New rules come into force on 1st September, and bring Finland in line with other Schengen countries.

File picture of Russian passport / Credit: iStock

Finland’s former interior minister has criticised a move by the government to tighten up the rules for Russians who want to apply for Finnish Schengen visas, as a senior Finnish diplomat in Russia says the decision was not political.

Writing on social media, Kai Mykkänen (NCP) writes “does requiring pay slips and hotel forms create more security or bureaucracy?”

His comments come after the government announced it would bring Finland into line with other EU Schengen states and require a full range of supporting documents for Russian nationals who apply for visas.

Previously, Finland had waived some of the paperwork requirements but this will now change. It applies to all applicants at Finnish missions in Moscow, St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk and Murmansk from the beginning of September.

“This was something that we had to do sooner or later. Before this, Finland’s visa requirements have difference from the rest of the Schengen countries” says Anneli Nummelin, Head of Visa Unit at the Finnish Consulate General in St Petersburg.

The main changes to the system mean that tourists and other private visitors will have to provide more proof of financial means, proof of accommodation during the trip and travel tickets.

In practice, Russian tourists who want to come to Finland will have to show their employment certificate with salary information; a bank statement covering a three month period; or a certificate of ownership for real estate property in Russia.

“We’re not doing anything that the other Schengen countries weren’t already doing and we wanted to do it after the summer so that it would affect as little as possible to Russians’ summer vacations. Traditionally September is a relatively quiet month in terms of received visa applications. The decision was not political” Nummelin tells News Now Finland.

In July the Finnish Consulate General in St Petersburg received 74,000 visa applications, which is an increase of 40% from the year before.

In the first six months of this year, the mission received a total of 545,000 visa applications, which is up almost 20% from 2018.