Call To Create A Supra-Immigration Service In Finland

Call to Create a Supra-Immigration Service in Finland

Published 06.05.2008, 15.01 (updated 06.05.2008, 21.09)

Immigration to Finland could be made more efficient if all immigration services were centralised and housed under one roof, says Ole Norrback, an ambassador and politician who has studied how immigration processes could run more smoothly.

Norrback says the Immigration Service could improve its customer service by committing to process work and residence permit applications in one week's time for immigrants who have jobs lined up. At the moment, processing times for work permits range between one and ten months.

“Until now, quick decisions have only been made for those whom we want out of the country. Now that we need labour, we also need to speed up the processing procedure for people coming here to work,” says Norrback.

Broader Jurisdiction for Immigration Services

The proposal outlines more responsibility for the Finnish Immigration Service, which would subsequently function under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. In the future, the agency would take over responsibility for work permits, in addition to the permit matters it currently oversees. At the moment, work permits are handled by regional employment agencies in Uusimaa, Tampere and Lappeenranta.

The Finnish Immigration Service would, according to the proposal, become the official authority for immigrant integration, placement of asylum seekers in reception centres and would moreover implement decisions on visa matters. The Immigration Service would also continue to provide guidance to local police on immigrant matters.

Norrback finds that there is room for improvement in authorities' attitudes. He also says that there has been too much public attention focused on asylum seekers, when thousands of immigrants are waiting on regular residence permits.

Norrback handed his proposal over to Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors on Tuesday afternoon.