On June 4th, 2021, Suomen Kuvalehti published an article on the Finnish residence permit application process. Increasingly, the Finnish Immigration Service, in its negative decisions, invokes the evasion of the provisions on entry into or residence in the country under the Aliens Act Section 36(2). The law has not changed extensively, but in cases where the applicant has previously been granted a residence permit, it is now refused because the decisions are grounded on the evasion of the entry rules. Suspicions of sham marriages, for instance, are considered evasion of entry provisions. In these so-called sham marriage cases, the Finnish Immigration Service has held that the couple is formally married but is not genuinely together to spend family life. If the parties requested an oral hearing, the court had to assess at the hearing whether the couple was genuinely together. Nowadays, the Finnish Immigration Service considers the partners as genuine family members but believes that the applicant’s actual intent is not to spend family life together in Finland. This new interpretation of the Finnish Immigration Service is contradictory in content. In addition, the courts no longer arrange an oral hearing to examine family life because of this interpretation by the Finnish Immigration Service.

Furthermore, a residence permit application may be rejected on the grounds of evasion of the entry rules in situations where the applicant has previously received two negative decisions on their application of asylum, as a result of which the Finnish Immigration Service has ordered for the applicant an entry ban covering the Schengen area. The entry ban will not take effect until the applicant leaves the country. When an applicant subsequently applies for a residence permit, for example, based on employment or family ties and after having resided permissibly in the country for years, this previously ordered entry ban is considered a ground for refusing the permit, based on evasion of the entry rules. In fact, a person who has developed strong ties to Finland during the years-long process may be denied admittance or stay or deported to their country of origin. Del Gaudio believes that an overall assessment should be made in such cases, taking into account the human and fundamental rights obligations that bind Finland.

In residence permit cases, court decisions have also been less frequently positive. In 2016, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled for the first time on the weight of the public interest in immigration management. In most cases, public order and security are weighed against either the protection of family life, the child’s best interest, or the employment relationship. In the Suomen Kuvalehti article, Kaj Swanljung, the Director of the Permit and Nationality Unit, has commented that the weight of immigration management may not have increased. Still, through the decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court, its applicability has been better limited, affecting the overall evaluation. According to Del Gaudio, however, it must be borne in mind that Finland has received judgments from, inter alia, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/86/D/51/2018 on the best interests of the child) and the European Court of Human Rights (25244/18 on deportation) considering residence permit cases. Guidelines of such judgments and international obligations should be equally applied and taken into account in the Finnish Immigration Service and the Finnish courts. Del Gaudio believes that courts should apply the principle of a human rights-friendly interpretation of the law and act as ultimate protectors of fundamental human rights instead of leaving it to individual attorneys.

Link to the article (subscription required): https://suomenkuvalehti.fi/

Miro Del Gaudio Lex Gaudius Years ago, investments abroad had been made due to modern technologies, but time flies and now educated employees, cost-competitive wage level and desirable communication are much more impressive values. World-class technology, ecosystems and all aforementioned features are found in Finland.  You can make an investment in Finland in various industries from wind power to biotechnology.

According to EU research, Finland is the most invested country in Scandinavia. Here we can find Muji, Google, Rolls Royce Group and many other well-known corporations. Copenhagen Economics has found that one invested euro in Finland makes a profit of three indirect euros. The BusinessFinland conducted research and found that Finland is an ideal location for setting up research and development activities. In the BusinessFinland research, the key factor why investments in Finland are efficient is also political and economic stability. In response to coronavirus, economic development has been stronger than in many other countries. Finland’s Ministry of Finance expects economies growth recovers already next year and measures implemented to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak come to an end.  According to the World Investment Report 2020, the total stock of FDI in Finland amounts to 78 billion USD.  The icing of the cake is that Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Lex Gaudius

There are many talks about the coronavirus vaccine. Today we would like to describe all the stages that new vaccines must go through.  

Vaccines are rigorously tested and proven safe before it could be launched into the market. In European Union, vaccines are controlled by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Before the vaccine could be launched, the substance has to undergo rigorous testing by its developer and the scientific evaluation by regulatory authorities. After those tests, the vaccine should be developed with laboratory testing and clinical testing. The whole process usually takes years, but in the case with COVID-19 the quick, rolling review cycle has been used to get the vaccine launched as soon as possible.

After the vaccine has been proved substantially acceptable, there comes clinical testing which is called vaccine trial. The zero phase is about the process when the little amount of the developed drug is inserted into 10 to 15 volunteers’ bodies to see what changes the drug provokes in the human. In the first stage, the right amount of the vaccine given to the person has to be found due to the testing on volunteers. The second phase includes several hundred volunteers that includes individuals from the risk group and persons with chronic diseases. The third phase is the last one and there are already thousands to tens of thousands of persons being tested. The rare side effects appear in this stage. 

At this moment, the Covid vaccine is developed in the USA, Germany and Russia. The German vaccine has been proved as more than 90 per cent effective in the aforementioned 3rd phase of the clinical trial, the USA’s looks to protect to 94,5% and Russian vaccine is suggested to be 92% effective. According to the WHO, more than 150 other Covid vaccines are in development. European Union has approved four contracts with pharmaceutical companies, which provide millions of the vaccine doses to EU member states, once the vaccine has been finally  proven effective against COVID-19.

Photo: unsplash.com 

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In October 2020 the Council of the European Union has adopted a recommendation to coordinate measures affecting free movement. It provides that at this moment there are no restrictions on travelling within the European Union. However, some conditions could be applied depending on the country you travel to.

 Safety of the chosen country is indicated by colours: green, orange and red. Do not forget to check the colour of your vacation destination. The map on the EU commission official website updates every week, so to be prepared for the actual situation, take a look on the map precisely before your trip. The map can be found here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/situation-updates/weekly-maps-coordinated-restriction-free-movement. You can travel without any restrictions on the green zones. At this moment, the only green zone is Greenland, and Finland is in the red zone. If you are coming from a red or orange zone, the receiving member state can introduce restrictions as undergoing quarantine or Covid-19 test after arrival. If your destination is outside the EU, the requirements to cross the border can differ and you have to check the actual situation on the ministry for foreign affairs website. 

To make your holiday stress-free zone, if you are from Finland, there is a possibility to fill the travel notification on the website https://matkustusilmoitus.fi/public_html?command=jump&t=ilm_matkustaja, so the ministry for foreign affairs can contact you in case there are going to be some unexpected circumstances that have an impact on your journey. It is recommended for everyone to acquire travel insurance if you are planning to travel. The insurance covers all treatment expenses abroad if you get sick and also the cancellation costs if you get the virus before embarking on your journey. The traveller’s insurance is always personal, but it covers a person’s children or grandchildren under the age of 20 he is travelling with. The coverage of the insurance differs depending on the company. In Finland, you can tender out the conditions of insurance contracts for example: If, Lähitapiola, Pohjola, OP and Popvakuutus.  

The world is changing and becoming even more globalized and technologized. The EU noticed the issue that current legislation does not respond to the arising legal challenges. It was a time for a change. Through the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) application on 25 May 2018 across the European Union, new legal requirements for the protection of personal data have been enforced for data controllers that are operating within the EU territory. Due to the GDPR changes, in certain cases, the data subject has the right to have the controller erase data concerning him or her without undue delay. This right is also known as the right to be forgotten (article 17 of the GDPR). This article protects natural persons while corporations are processing their personal data.

The controller is obligated to erase the personal data according to article without undue delay if:

• the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which it was collected or otherwise processed
• the data subject withdraws the consent on which the processing was based and there is no other legal basis for the processing
• the data subject objects to the processing of his or her data for purposes of direct marketing or otherwise exercises the data subject’s right to object and there is no other justified reason for the processing
• the personal data has been processed unlawfully
• the personal data has to be erased for compliance with a legal obligation in Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject or
• the personal data has been collected in connection with offering information society services.
The right does not apply if the processing of the data is necessary:
• for exercising the right of freedom of expression and information
• for compliance with a legal obligation which requires processing by Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject or for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
• for reasons of public interest in the area of public health
• for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in so far as the right to erasure is likely to render impossible or seriously impair the achievement of the objectives of that processing or
• for the establishment, exercise or defense of legal claims.

There has been a descriptive case law Google Spain v. González. The case offers a piece of understanding of how the article right to be forgotten works in general. In the case, Mr González searched Google for his name, and Google search resulted in links to the newspaper articles from 1998 on which an announcement mentioning Mr González’s name appeared for a real-estate auction connected with attachment proceedings for the recovery of social security debts. Mr González requested, first, that newspaper is required either to remove or alter those pages so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared or to use certain tools made available by search engines in order to protect the data. Second, he requested Google to remove or conceal the personal data relating to him so that they ceased to be included in the search results and no longer appeared in the links to the newspaper. Mr González stated that this information has been irrelevant for years. Google argued that the data was not incompatible with legislation and lawfully published.

The Spanish National High Court asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for advice on the application of the Data Protection Directive. According to the CJEU, the financial interest of the controller is not in itself, sufficient to justify further processing. As a general rule, the protection of privacy also overrides the public’s right to information. However, in individual cases, the nature and sensitivity of the information and the position of the data subject, for example, as a public figure, may affect this balance. In its decision, CJEU highlighted the importance of respecting the fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy. After all, the operator of a search engine was obliged to remove from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of a person’s name links to web pages, published by third parties and containing information relating to that person.

This case demonstrates in a certain way the problematic relationship between the person’s right for privacy and newspaper’s right for freedom of expression and information as well as a public interest. Here, Mr González’s Google results had already come irrelevant, they bothered him and his privacy. Anyway, even though the information were not relevant anymore, it does not change the fact that this information would not be true. Based on this, the newspaper has the right for expression and follow the public interest. However, since the article right to be forgotten is existing there was no reason not to erase the data. Thus, the right for privacy was the priority.

Nowadays the privacy is a common subject of discussion and why it would not be, since the privacy issues are existing in the world full of smartphones, interactive speakers and fitness trackers, just to name a few. Privacy is discussed in controversy among philosophical, legal, social and scientific circles. Still, no universally accepted definition of privacy exists. There is even a discussion about the 4th generation of the “new” human rights. At the moment, traditional human rights concepts are also under pressure because technology is creating new capabilities for human rights violations. In today’s world there are stored personal information in many, many places, the right to be forgotten emphasizing the individual person’s right to privacy by offering the ability to control at least at some level what information is available about them on the internet, for instance. Rights to live with humanity and the current discussion is strongly going on. The effects are worth following.

We would like to share Evelyn’s story on the unreasonably complex procedure for gaining work-related residence permit in Finland. 

Evelyn moved to Finland from the Philippines in 2017. She concluded a permanent employment contract with a Finnish company providing cleaning services. Due to the Finnish immigration policy, she was not allowed to start working until the work-related residence permit was successfully granted. 

In order to work in Finland, a citizen outside of EU countries shall hold a residence permit for an employed person. Permission procedure is two-phased: First, TE Services estimate employment conditions, the employer’s ability to fulfil its legal obligations, and establishes whether there is labour force available within a reasonable time in Finland or EU/EEA in accordance with labour market testing. Secondly, Immigration Service decides on the residence permit based on the statement of TE Services. Immigration Service also evaluates the general conditions for granting residence permits in Finland. 

TE Services concluded a negative partial decision falsely claiming that the documents proving the accuracy of the employment terms were not submitted within the time limits. However, all documents were delivered on time, and the acquisition of the documents was confirmed in writing by the officer of TE Services. However, Immigration Service dismissed Evelyn’s application referring to the statement of TE Services. 

Evelyn decided to seek legal advice and turned to our Attorney-in-law Miro Del Gaudio. Immigration Service re-evaluated Evelyn’s application, but in the end dismissed it claiming that the nature of Evelyn’s employment contract deemed artificial, since Evelyn could not give encompassing answers to the questions presented to her in an oral hearing. Our Attorney Miro emphasized that the questions were very technical by nature. Matters concerning income tax rates, a specific number of annual holidays granted by law could not be reasonably expected to know in detail even by an employee originating from Finland. Finally, after a two-year-battle, Evelyn received an accepted residence permit for an employed person in September 2019. 

A procedure consisting of applications, decision-making in different instances and complaints following therefrom may take years. The delay from the first application to the final decision is unreasonably lengthy. Foreigner’s ability to start working is postponed by years which does not meet the needs and expectations of the employer. Thus, it is of high importance to shorten the application procedure of work-related residence permits, which is finally recognized by the current government of Finland. 

Source in Finnish: https://www.iltalehti.fi/

According to the Finnish Immigration Service, commonly known as Migri, the processing time of asylum applications currently is longer than the set target. By law, applicants of international protection have the right to receive a decision on their case within 6 months. This new law took effect from July 2018 onwards.

The former Manager of the Asylum Department at the Finnish Immigration Service, Esko Repo, highlights the need for additional temporary staff in ensuring that all applications are processed and reach a decision within the time limit. According to the retired head of the Asylum Department, the slow flow of application queue is the biggest issue within the Finnish Immigration Service.

Statistics on decisions made during 2019 of the Finnish Immigration Service is available on their website. Approximately 7% of all decisions made by Migri concerned international protection of third-country nationals, 6788 in total, with 2576 decisions favouring the applicant. However, 2678 asylum seekers received a negative decision and thus have faced refusal of entry to Finland.

According to the statistics provided by the Finnish Immigration Service, the largest nationality groups seeking asylum in Finland are Iranian, Afghan, Russian, Somalian and Turkish. The amount of men who have applied for international protection in Finland is double the amount of female asylum seekers.

Please be informed that our team at Lex Gaudius will gladly advise and help you in the process of appealing your decision. Our lawyers have long-standing experience from assisting clients who have received a negative decision from the Finnish Immigration Service regarding asylum applications. You may contact us by phone +358 (0) 44 570 0140 or via email at lexgaudius@lexgaudius.com to discuss your issue and book an appointment with our lawyers.

Image: pexels.com

In spring 2019 Lex Gaudius attorneys at law were involved in an interesting aggravated tax fraud case regarding organised cigarette smuggling from Russia to Finland. In January 2019, the Finnish customs authorities caught an organised cigarette smuggling ring red-handed from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. After a further investigation, a pattern regarding cigarette to Finland was found by the customs authorities.

Smuggling from Russia

The prosecutors of Itä-Uusimaa and the Republic of Finland/Finnish customs as a plaintiff pressed charges against six Russian defendants – one of them was represented by Lex Gaudius – for six counts of gross tax fraud that had occurred between late 2018 and early 2019. The prosecutors and the plaintiff originally claimed almost 160 000 euros jointly from the defendants.

However, Lex Gaudius attorneys at law managed to find discrepancies from the original calculations delivered by the customs authorities. In precise, the discrepancies originated from miscalculations of customs tariff, the formula used to calculate the amounts of smuggled cigarettes (cigarette cartons per kilogram) in conjunction with smuggled cigarette labels (L&M instead of Marlboro).

As a result of the discrepancies discovered by the Lex Gaudius attorneys at law,  the claimed amount mitigated nearly 20 000 euros for the benefit of the defendants. After the last trial, defendants were deported back to Russia.


Image: unsplash.com

On April 2019 the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment published a press release regarding amendments to the Aliens Act. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: “Many sectors are experiencing a growing labour shortage. It is therefore necessary to – in addition to other measures – improve the labour mobility of foreign citizens already in the labour market.”

Under the new amendments, the process of determining the availability of labour will no longer apply to those persons who have worked in Finland for at least one year with an employment-based residence permit and are transferring into a completely new sector.  In addition to the aforesaid one-year prerequisite, a professional qualification for the new sector is required. The Employment and Economic Development Offices will continue to assess the employer’s operating environment pursuant to the Aliens Act. The amendments to the Aliens Act will be effective as of 1 June 2019.

Should you have any questions regarding the new amendments of the Aliens Act, please do not hesitate to contact Lex Gaudius attorneys at law. We have extensive experience and knowledge in helping our customers with questions regarding the Aliens Act and the employment of migrants.