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Migri to slash staff

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) is looking to cut staff as residence permit processing times lengthen, reports HS.

Maahanmuuttoviraston ovi.
Prime Minister Antti Rinne's government says it wants to boost work-based immigration, but companies say red tape hamper their recruitment of foreign experts. Image: Lotta Sundström / Yle

This week Yle News’ All Points North podcast delved into whether Finland is welcoming for foreign workers, particularly in regard to processing times for residence permit applications, which can take up to six months.

On Saturday, daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that the Finnish Immigration Service was looking to cut up to ten percent of its staff by the end of the year. The number of employees would shrink from around 1,000 to 900, according to Migri director Jaana Vuorio.

The agency will mainly focus on not renewing fixed-term contracts. Some 300 people working for the organisation are temporary employees, but that number will be downsized to around 200 next year.

Vuorio told HS that staff cuts of this scale were unprecedented at the agency.

“We’re at odds with the Finance Ministry over what constitutes adequate resourcing for the agency,” she told the paper.

The layoffs would shutter all Migri customer service points, according to HS.

This week Melanie Dower, a relocation specialist working at game giant Supercell, told All Points North that the summer slowdown in residence permit processing has to end if Finland is to benefit from foreign professionals.

"That has to change if we're going to be a global country attracting talent from around the world. The southern hemisphere is not on holiday in July and people are waiting to move country and get their families in schools," she said.

Migri's figures show that permit processing times for foreign specialists have clearly grown. This year the average wait for the handling of a first-time residence permit is 52 days, more than double last year's average of 25 days. Processing of applications to extend existing permits is dragging on even longer, now taking an average of 67 days.

Budget allocations constitute most of Migri’s funding. Vuorio said application fees paid to the immigration unit would alone not be enough to finance the department’s work.

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