Processing Times Of Asylum Applications Drawn Out

Processing times of asylum applications drawn out
Nearly 1,200 waiting for interviews with Immigration Service

May 27, 2009

Asylum seekers are waiting up to 200 days before getting into an interview with the Finnish Immigration Service. The waiting times have nearly doubled from last year, when interviews took place inside just over three months.

Nearly 1,200 people are waiting to be interviewed to assess their eligibility for a residence permit in Finland. A sharp increase in the number of asylum applicants since August last year has had a major effect on the lengthening of application times.

Last autumn and winter, an average 500 asylum seekers came to Finland every month. In the spring, the pace had declined somewhat.

In addition to the backlogged interview situation, another bottleneck is that the police are having difficulties in delivering the protocols of the interviews to the Immigration Service, because of a shortage of resources”, says Marjo Mkel, an official at the Finnish Immigration Service.

Now we are interviewing those who applied for asylum in September 2008, and longer handling times are expected.

Asylum applications, or applications for international protection, are handled either as normal or expedited procedure.

Bringing down the average processing time is the expedited procedure, in which the average is just over 100 days. Nearly half of all applications fall into this category.

The faster processing is for applicants coming from countries generally considered safe, and for applications which appear to be without foundation. Also, cases falling under the Dublin Convention, in which the applicants case is the responsibility of another EU country (and also Norway, Iceland, or Switzerland), are also processed more quickly.

Nearly half of all applications are “Dublin cases”.

The backlog has been anticipated, and more personnel has been hired to deal with the surge. On Monday, 30 new civil servants started work at the Immigration Service, focusing on interviews.

The new employees were given two-year contracts, and are located in Helsinki, Oulu, and Imatra.

The Finnish Immigration Service is expecting up to EUR 6,000 people to seek asylum in Finland this year. By the beginning of May there were slightly fewer applicants than had been anticipated – about 2,000.

Most asylum applicants still come from Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan.


Previously in HS International Edition:

Finland to start repatriating Iraqi asylum seekers (8.5.2009)

Up to a third of underage asylum seekers prove to be older (5.5.2009)

Thors accuses Zyskowicz of divisiveness in asylum debate (17.4.2009)

Surge of asylum seekers portends new record year (12.1.2009)



Finnish Immigration Service

Dublin Convention (Wikipedia)