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Finnish Immigration Service is piloting automated decision-making in granting residence permits for studies

Publication date 19.10.2023 11.34

The Finnish Immigration Service started using automated decision-making in the processing of residence permits for studies on 19 October 2023. The Finnish Immigration Service issues an automated decision if the application meets all the requirements for issuing the permit. Negative decisions and decisions that require individual consideration are not issued automatically.

Automated decision-making is one of the measures taken to make the processing of residence permits more efficient and uniform. The Finnish Immigration Service aims at an average processing time of no more than one month for residence permits for employed persons and students.

– Automated processing will standardise the processing of applications, which promotes safe and seamless immigration. Automation also frees up specialists’ time to work on cases which need individual consideration or further clarification, says Deputy Director-General Elina Immonen.

The Finnish Immigration Service is first testing automated decision-making with residence permit applications submitted by degree students at universities and by all exchange students. Based on the results, automation will later be expanded to include other customer groups.

Automation system does the same checks as an official

Automated decisions are positive residence permit decisions issued by the automation system of the Finnish Immigration Service.

The system checks that the requirements for issuing the permit are met by using the same criteria that are applied to matters processed by an official. In addition, the customer must have proved his or her identity at a Finnish mission or at a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service. After that, the Finnish Immigration Service can issue an automated decision if the application has been submitted in the online service Enter Finland by a university student or an exchange student, the processing fee has been paid, the application includes all the necessary information, and all the requirements for issuing the permit are met. If the requirements are not met, or the application needs clarification, the application is always transferred to an official, who will make the decision.

The Finnish Immigration Service has already made use of assistive automation, for example to check registers maintained by public authorities on behalf of its officials. Finnish Immigration Service started automated post-decision monitoring of residence permits for studies on 28 September. The general legislation that entered into force in May makes it possible to use automated decision-making in cases where the permit is issued in accordance with the application and no other parties, for example family members, are involved.

This limited pilot scheme makes it possible to introduce automated decision-making in a controlled manner, making sure that it works as desired.

– We have used automation for a long time at different stages of the process to make processing more effective. Now the use of automation will be extended to both automated decisions and post-decision monitoring. When the requirements laid down by law are met, a permit can be issued effectively, and it is also possible to monitor that the requirements are still met during the validity of the permit,” says Chief Digital Officer Anna Cheung.

The processing of an application is still not fully automated. For example, the identity of the applicant must be verified by an official and officials are also responsible for individually assessing the results of register checks even though automated processing is used. This is important in terms of security.

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