Ilkka Haahtela, the new director general of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), attended an event by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Helsinki on 30 November 2022. Haahtela on Friday identified open, transparent and customer-focused practices as objectives of the operational reforms carried out at Migri. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE MINISTRY of the Interior has decided to commission an external study on the organisation of immigration administration in Finland.

Minna Hulkkonen, the director general of immigration at the Ministry of the Interior, on Tuesday told that the study will provide additional information on what sort of administrative processes would best support comprehensive immigration policy making and guarantee a smooth service experience regardless of the reason for immigration.

It will also attempt to enhance understanding of the regulation governing immigration, the processes related to immigration and residence, and the role of various national authorities.

The information will be utilised in political decision making and the reform of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The results of the assessment are expected in February or March.

Migri has been the focus of intense public scrutiny following recent media reports. Helsingin Sanomat on 10 December wrote that Anudari Boldbaatar, a native of Mongolia, was denied a residence permit and accused of forgery fundamentally because immigration officials were incapable of understanding the account statements she had provided as part of her permit application.

The agency also refused to specify which of the submitted documents it believed had been forged, citing “very important public interests”.

Boldbaatar had completed her nursing qualifications in Finland.

Migri on Friday admitted that it made both procedural and legislative errors in the case. Its officials, it conceded, misinterpreted the act on the openness of government activities and failed to sufficiently take into account the client’s right to appeal by withholding the specifics of their suspicions.

The officials also acted wrongly by not hearing the client before denying her permit application and by making the decision on insufficient grounds, without taking into account the special circumstances of the case and the principle of proportionality.

Ilkka Haahtela, the newly appointed director general of Migri, has launched a formal process to look into the actions of all officials involved in the case, a process that could result in the issuance of a warning or termination.

“The process is necessary to make sure the matter is reviewed thoroughly,” he stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Friday.

“It’ll take a couple of weeks before the process is properly underway,” he added, referring to the time required to identify all officials involved in the case and set up their hearings.

Migri on Friday also announced it intends to swiftly introduce reforms to its operations, including working procedures, the overall consideration of applicants’ situations and practices related to the partial secrecy of decisions.

“I want our established practices to be open, transparent and customer-focused. Our processes must also run smoothly,” outlined Haahtela.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, meanwhile, is set to launch a study on the official structures and co-operation between administrative branches that could best promote work and education-based immigration.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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