People lining to the Finnish Immigration service point in Helsinki on April 19th 2021.


The Finnish Immigration Service is improving its customer services. During the summer, the Finnish Immigration Service will open thousands of new appointments for its services points and provide more advisory services to customers. The Finnish Immigration Service is currently exploring the options of upgrading its appointment booking system.

The appointment booking system of the Finnish Immigration Service is currently experiencing a backlog.

The average waiting time for an appointment at a service point is currently three months. However, the service will be adding more new appointments during this summer. The short-term goal is that, by the end of the summer, customers will be able to book an appointment within one month. The goal is also to ensure that in urgent matters, customers are able to receive service on the same day using the queuing number system.

"Our goal is to offer quick and high-quality service through all our customer service channels even if the number of applications that we processes should increase," says Harriet Mallenius, Director of Customer Experience.

When applying for a residence permit, EU citizen's registration or citizenship, applicants must go through an identification process to prove their identity. The first residence permit is typically applied for from abroad but those applying for an extended residence permit or citizenship must complete the identification process at a Finnish Immigration Services point. The service points serve approximately 8,000 customers per month.

Thousands of new appointments and a new appointment booking system

The Finnish Immigration Service has recently made changes that will immediately relieve the current backlog. The service desk at Malmi was open on five Saturdays in April and May. With the extended opening hours, 500 new appointments could be added to the system.

In Helsinki, more summer workers have been recruited than in previous years. Once the summer workers start work, an additional 2,900 appointments will be opened in Malmi. At the moment, appointments are available for up to six months for customers whose matter is not urgent. The service desks are also piloting shorter appointment times for certain permit types.

"Developing our advisory services is an important part of our new service model. Better services will be made available through and in person at service points. We are currently recruiting new customer service advisers at Malmi, who will be assisting customers as necessary," Mallenius says.

Customers applying for an extended permit may not have to visit a service in person if they submit their application through Enter Finland and uses strong identification using, for example, Finnish online banking codes for authentication. The aim is to double the number of those who need not visit the service point in person, which at the moment is 4,000 customers per year.

"Our long-term goal is to develop our ways of working throughout the Finnish Immigration Service. Our next project is to trial shorter appointments for certain permit types and to reduce the need for visiting our service points person. I have over one hundred development ideas on my desk, so I believe that some of these will bring relief to the backlog in the appointment booking system," Mallenius says.

Why are service points so busy?

The number of customer service advisors at the service points has varied over the years. In 2020, the number of staff was one-fifth smaller than in 2019, although the number of applications submitted and decisions made at service points has remained the same. The coronavirus pandemic brought its own challenges for application processing, particularly for customers using the queuing number system, because we could have only a limited number of visitors in the building at once.

At the moment, the waiting time for an appointment is approximately three months. Brexit customers may be able to get an appointment sooner. During the summer, the Finnish Immigrations Service will add the number of appointments available to all customers.

Fact: The first residence permits are usually applied for from abroad

  • The first residence permits are usually applied for from abroad before moving to Finland. In this case, the identification process to prove the applicant's identity takes place at Finland's foreign mission.
  • The Finnish missions abroad are managed by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  • Customers can apply for a residence permit or an extension to it, EU citizen's registration, residence card, citizenship, alien's passport or refugee's travel document at the service points of the Finnish Immigration Service.
  • Most of the customers using the service points are already residents in Finland.
  • Asylum applications cannot be submitted at the service points of the Finnish Immigration Service. Asylum applications are submitted to the police or the border control officers. Asylum interviews are also not held at a service point.

Source: The Finnish Immigration Service