Finnish Immigration Service conducts inquiry into case of Mongolian nurse
The Finnish Immigration Service has conducted an internal inquiry into the case reported on by Helsingin Sanomat on 10 December 2022, which concerned a customer who had completed a degree in Finland and applied for a residence permit to look for work.
The inquiry found that errors were made during the processing of the case in question with regard to the procedure and the interpretation of the law.
Customer-focused approach not adequately followed
During the processing of the case, an error was made in the application of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. The overall consideration regarding secrecy did not take sufficient account of the fact that the customer’s right to appeal was compromised.
Another error arose when the customer was not heard before the decision was made, and the reasons given for the decision were not sufficient. The decision was not based on a sufficient overall consideration, which would have entailed taking fully into account the particular circumstances of the case and following the principle of proportionality.
The inquiry found that the processing of the application in question and the procedures employed did not take sufficient account of the principles of a customer-focused approach or the experience of the customer, which are the foundation on which the Finnish Immigration Service wants to build its operations.
Following the inquiry, the agency’s Director General Ilkka Haahtela has decided to initiate a legal process under civil service law.
Swift reforms to be introduced to the agency’s operations
The Finnish Immigration Service is swiftly implementing wide-ranging reforms to its operations, including working procedures, the overall consideration of a customer’s situation when processing cases and making decisions, the way customers are heard, 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. Our objective is to promote a customer-focused approach and encourage development efforts based on the experience of our customers. This entails, for example, improving the way in which customers are heard and considered throughout the process,” said Director General Ilkka Haahtela.
The agency is also examining the role of an overall consideration of a customer’s circumstances when processing and deciding applications, and looking at how it could be made more effective. This will help ensure that the customer’s particular situation as well as the information and documents the customer has presented are taken into account as a whole.
The importance of hearing customers will be emphasised in cases in which uncertainties arise in relation to an application. The reform process will improve the agency’s capability to assess such cases efficiently and with legal certainty. Practices related to the partial secrecy of decisions will also be re-evaluated. The agency will modify its procedures so as to better ensure legal quality when applying the Act on the Openness of Government Activities.
Practices related to applying the law to be audited
The Finnish Immigration Service will have an external audit carried out of its instructions for applying the law, and of the way in which these guidelines take customers’ circumstances into account. On the basis of the audit, the agency will update the necessary instructions and procedures so as to better take into account a customer’s situation when interpreting the law. The audit is set to begin early next year.
In addition, the agency plans to review negative decisions made over the past year on applications for permits issued on the basis of work, studies, and family ties. This work will also feed into the reforms to the agency’s instructions and practices.
The agency will report the results of the aforementioned measures and make announcements regarding further action.
- Ilkka Haahtela, Director General, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interview requests: Press and Communications Services of the Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: email@example.com