This 🧵 shows the current dysfunctional state of immigration processing in #Finland. This is my lived experience - irony, I also research migration (intl students) in 🇫🇮. I visited @maahanmuuttovir’s new service point in Helsinki (Malmi) the last 2 days (supposed to be only 1) 1/
Tuesday I waited 7.5 hours outside (through +3/4C temps, some snow, rain, wind, & even sun) to be told “come back another day - we are done providing service for the day ... we open tomorrow at 8:00” 2/
There was 10-12 individuals/families (including multiple children under the age of 2) in front of me & another 10-12 behind me in line - most of us waited 7.5-8 hours outside. Yesterday I waited over 8+ hours & didn’t make it in. There were 5 in front & 40+ people behind me 3/
We waited outside due to Covid protocols, which makes sense for increasing safety - for spacing inside. Today especially, the security guards were clearly pained to tell everyone they were denying them service after waiting all day (First person in today got in line at 4:30) 4/
Migri website clearly stated that joining a que doesn’t constitute receiving service that day. However, there is no listing that queuing is outside. Many (children/adults) did not have appropriate clothes for waiting outside for 7+ hours. Message “queuing occurs outside” helps 5/
lack of details is often a complaint immigrants have in Finland, much info is not readily provided b/c the expectation in Finnish society is one asks when one has questions. But if one doesn’t know who/where or what to ask (cultural capital) what then? This is a problem 6/
So why were we (I was w/spouse) waiting in line instead of getting an appointment? Well, Migri suggests not to apply for a renewal until 3 months out. Knowing there are challenges in scheduling an appointment, I started looking in February 7/
Migri releases appointments regularly but I have yet to find one in Helsinki. I seem to miss time when they get released. Looking again today, there are no appts anywhere in the country for a family of 2 until 7th of July & that is in Rovaniemi (9+ hours driving from Helsinki) 8/
3 main issues/takeaways from thinking about the last 2 days & what I know about immigration in Finland. availability of appointments causes ripple effects. I am lucky & privileged to work a job where I can be a little flexible when I work 9/.
This allows me to wait during the day because I can get my work in at night. My spouse though had to take 2 days off work( like many others in line) - this is not good for immigrants competing for jobs in the Finnish economy, this places them at an even more disadvantage 10/
2. Timing of processing - this has been a problem for awhile (see by @EtlaNews) with last fall’s average wait times over 150 days…) @ylenews 11/
In a word, it’s bad & from the message I received about my renewal - it’s not getting better (& perhaps worse). Take a look what they indicate is my estimated wait time 12/
These wait times are particularly problematic for workers &/or entrepreneurs who travel regularly (though many are not at moment due to COVID) because Migri suggests to not apply until 3 months before expiration, but they take 8-12 months to make a decision? 13/
So then how do individuals travel outside the EU to meet with clients/partners or even see family (remember, these are not EU citizens) when they can’t get back into the EU readily without their residence permit? This discourages migration into Finland (&EU) 14/
3. The lack of available spaces & delays in processing discourages current immigrants to stay. When the obstacles to overcome to just file your paperwork (among other items) is high, people start to “leak out” of the system as they see it’s not “worth it to stay” nor valued 15/
What was perhaps most striking to me, as a researcher, was most of the people in line (immigrants) were switching from native languages to Finnish & most of the interactions with other line members & security guards were in Finnish 16/
In many ways, these are people who have already invested their time & energy to learn the language (not easy). These are assets to the future of 🇫🇮& Finland should invest in them by providing better services 17/
So what can be done? A couple suggestions- 1) it’s clear a large investment is needed in @maahanmuuttovir - service points & for reviewing permits. This will involve training & resources (financial & human) 18/
2.Expand # of service points. This goes with #1. There are only 10 in whole country - only 1 in Helsinki (largest city). There used to be more throughout the country, the recent consolidation suggests disinvestment. 3. Increase automation - use system like airport checkin 19/
This can be to verify identities/passports & cut down people needing to que/come to Migri.

4 Provide more detailed information. Start simple & include basics like what to expect queuing - expected times & its outside 20/
5.While programs like #talentboost & #FinlandWorks are great to attract talent, but what’s the point to bring in international talent when they can’t get services in a timely manner? Save the money in marketing & invest in actual immigration services 21/
Concluding points- interaction w/customers (i.e. immigrants) outside is only with security guards. While this doesn’t send a welcoming message, they were firm when needed & obviously pained telling us they had to cut the line after we waited all day. It was humane & honest 22/
Immigration anywhere is difficult, messy, & most certainly not easy. Immigration officials have a number of responsibilities to balance & manage - security/safety, national priorities, & economic needs. But the Finnish reputation needs some repairing in immigration 23/
I want to be clear, my experiences & interactions with @maahanmuuttovir & #talentboost (@lindemanlaura) personally & professionally have been overall very good. While the immigration process in Finland is not necessarily broken, it is though currently dysfunctional 24/
My goal in my research & w/this is to improve immigration in 🇫🇮. I believe in 🇫🇮 & want to solve these issues. I will be back again waiting in line ... hopefully we get in this time END/

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