The Finnish Immigration Services have announced a backlog in the processing of family reunification applications, with over 10,000 requests being in the process.
According to a press release issued by the authority, the main reason for the congestion for family bond residence permit applications was due to the high demands of previous years, especially in the post-pandemic period, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
About 8,400 first family bond residence permit applications were submitted in 2020, while in the following year, this number reached 13,700, recording a 63 per cent increase. In 2022, less than 19,000 first family bond applications were submitted and more than 13,000 applications for extension permits.
However, the Finnish Migration Authorities reveal that the backlog isn’t common for the majority of family reunification applications, and most applications are processed in less than three months.
“The processing of family bond applications is backlogged. Currently, approximately 10,800 applications are awaiting a decision. We apologize for the traffic jam,” the press release reads.
Out of all family reunification applications lodged in 2022, more than 55 per cent of those have a decision in less than three months, while 75 per cent have a decision in less than six months after the application was submitted.
The majority of the applications were approved, with 17,476 decisions being made on first-family bond permits and 11,589 decisions on extension permits. About 93 per cent of the first permits and 96 per cent were extensions of permits – making up the majority of all positive decisions.
The authorities point out that the child’s interest and the protection of family life are priorities when processing applications, and the average processing time for minors’ applications is shorter.
According to Statistics Finland, around 8,500 Finnish citizens moved abroad, while 9,600 Finnish citizens moved to the country in 2020, taking the net immigration of Finnish citizens to 1,109 moves.
In the past decade, net immigration by Finnish citizens was the lowest in 2016, and the emigration rate of Finnish citizens was 4,000 higher than that of immigration. From 2016 to 2020, immigration among Finnish citizens has grown constantly, in total by 26 per cent, and emigration has decreased by 27 per cent.
Estonians represent the largest nationality group in Finland, with a total of 51,819 people, followed by Russians (33,428) and Iraqis (15,322).
As per asylum-seekers, those numbers have dropped in recent years from 5,647 in 2016 to 2,545 in 2021, representing a decrease of 54.9 per cent. In 2021, a total of 2,132 applications were granted, and 380 residence permits were issued.
A total of 1,214 of those applying for family reunification received a positive decision, and over 221 got a negative decision. As per the refugee quota, 1,050 people were beneficiaries in 2021.