From what I have been told, many of these frauds are coming with lots of cash, so spending a little to gain a lot in return is but a small investment.
What should be rejected are their applications, let alone the bringing in of their kin. We’re talking about 10 00-15 000 asylum seekers bring in their large families, so in a very short time that number balloons to 3 to 5 % of the original number (+ 50 000-75 000 people).
Finland will begin charging fees for those seeking family reunifications, the Interior Ministry announced on Thursday. Applications filed by relatives of refugees granted international protection will be no longer be free as of mid-May. Until now, some such filings have been exempt from fees charged for other residence permit applications.
Under the new rules, applying for a residence permit will cost 455 euros per adult and 230 euros per child.
Tuuli Tuunanen, a senior officer at the ministry, told Yle that the charges cover the costs of handling the paperwork.
“Basically all residence permits are already subject to fees. Now this exception for family members is being removed as the number of filings and the associated costs are expected to rise,” she told Yle.
Finland has a relatively strict definition of family, including only spouses, registered or cohabiting partners, children and guardians of minors under age 18.
Asylum applications remain free
The Finnish Immigration Service predicts that some 17,000 family reunification applications will be lodged this year, compared to just 770 last year – an increase of more than 2000 percent. Last year the number of arriving asylum seekers rose more than tenfold to 32,500.
So far roughly a quarter of applications so far processed have been approved, meaning these refugees may apply to bring in family members. Authorities expect the biggest wave of these applications to hit this summer.
Meanwhile nearly 40 percent withdrawing their claims and/or voluntarily leaving the country, while 18 percent of applications have been rejected.
Applying for residence permits will remain free of charge for approved asylum seekers and refugees brought into the country under quota agreements.
The new fees for family members will apply to all applications received after May 16. Tuunanen confirms that any documents registered before that date will not be subject to the new costs.
Humanitarian residence permits phased out
Meanwhile President Sauli Niinistö is expected to sign a new law on Friday doing away with the old practice of issuing residence permits on humanitarian grounds. Instead those seeking international protection in the country can only be granted asylum or residence permits based on so-called subsidiary protection. This is intended to harmonise Finnish legislation with that of the EU and other member states.
Stricter rules will also apply to the collection of processing fees. From now on, officials will not begin processing any application before all applicable fees are paid up.