Minister of Employment Timo Harakka (SDP) says it will be difficult to reduce processing times for work permits to one month but admits the government must take action to facilitate hiring from abroad. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)


TIMO HARAKKA (SDP), the Minister of Employment, has estimated that it will be difficult to reduce processing times for employment-based residence permit applications from several months to one month.

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) stated on Friday that the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) should fast-track the permit applications of employees who are entering the country to take up a position with a monthly wage of at least 4,000 euros.

“These kinds of applications must be processed in no more than a week. If we cannot do that, the permit should be granted. There is demand for this kind of talent also elsewhere, and the talent will not wait long for the wheels of the work permit procedure to turn,” underlined Ilkka Oksala, the director of work and social affairs at EK.

“There is an urgent skills shortage in Finland. [Employees] are not waiting behind the door. Long processing times undermine the entire recruitment process and, thereby, complicate business activity.”

Harakka on Saturday admitted that the long processing times are an issue, but reminded that it will be difficult to reduce the times even to the one-month target set forth in the government programme.

“We should be telling more clearly that anyone is welcome to work in Finland,” he stated in an interview on YLE TV1. “It’s intolerable that even special experts have to wait up to a year for a work permit. The government programme promises that the time is cut to one month, but it’ll be very difficult to pull off.”

Harakka also voiced his support for upholding the labour availability consideration, a process that enables authorities to cite the availability of domestic labour as grounds for preventing employers from hiring from outside the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).

“We really intend to invest in international recruitment,” he assured.

“The need is so urgent that it’s clear that we’ll have to make it more efficient. By upholding the labour availability consideration, we can participate more effectively and attractively in the competition that’s affecting all countries.”

He also estimated that a change in attitudes – away from scrutinising whether a particular employee has the right relocate to the country towards recognising that a more fluent process is in the public’s best interests – is necessary in Finland.

“A first-class expert doesn’t want to be a second-class citizen,” said Harakka.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi