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/

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.

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