The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) claims to have succeeded to speed up the processing of residence permits for specialists in the last half of 2020.
According to fresh data released by Migri, in July-November 2020, the immigration agency processed the first residence permit for a specialist in an average of 17 days, and half of the decisions regarding specialists were made in 10 days.
Last year, it took an average specialist 45 days to receive their first residence permit, and half of these decisions were made in 46 days.
Migri's press release comes after the controversy over a high-profile case of an American specialist and entrepreneur, Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, who decided to leave Finland never to return after being denied a residence permit as a specialist after months of fruitless waiting.
Her case made national news and became an example of what does not work in Finland when it comes to attracting foreign talent and top-level professionals.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of residence permit applications for specialists has dropped considerably.
In January–November 2020, specialists lodged 781 applications for a first residence permit, and 826 residence permits were issued to them.
A total of 842 decisions were made, of which 16 were refusals. Decisions have also been issued this year on applications submitted the year before.
In January–November 2019, specialists lodged 1,677 applications for a first residence permit, and 1,791 residence permits were issued to them. A total of 1,801 decisions were made.
The Finnish Immigration Service aims to streamline the processing of residence permits for specialists and other work-based permits further.
“The plan is to use automation even more extensively in handling residence permits for specialists. While we are continuously making progress in this work, such a large project also has its challenges, as the conditions of automation must be specified accurately”, explains Head of Branch Anna Hyppönen.
The Finnish Immigration Service uses partial automation to make decisions. The system verifies that the criteria for granting a residence permit are met and automatically produces a proposal for a decision, which a human processor checks and confirms.
The current legislation does not permit fully automated decision-making processes.