More than 50,000 visa applications have been submitted to the Finnish consulate in Russia’s St. Petersburg since the start of the year, authorities have revealed.
According to the Finnish consulate, the number of applications submitted by Russian nationals has been increasing since last October, when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and more people have been able to apply for visas, while during the pandemic, only some of the groups such as those with family or real estate in Finland were able to apply, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The consulate further revealed that the most popular visa applications for June and July were tourist visas, registering a 10% increase for this specific period.
Although the consulate says it is not entirely accurate to attribute the increase in visa applications to the lifted COVID-19 measures, a slight increase was already expected.
Visa applications are submitted to the Finnish Visa Application Center in St. Petersburg, which currently operates by appointment only. The next visa appointments available at this consulate are in August, with the main focus of the authority being the processing of applications to be completed within ten days.
On the other hand, Finland has reported that its farms, especially berry farms, are experiencing a decrease in the number of seasonal workers, directly linked to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service, 13,870 seasonal work certificates were issued last year, of which 95.7% or 13,287 workers were from Ukraine. However, these rates are much lower than this year, falling to 4,456, represented by a drop of 211%.
“The number of applications submitted was less than a third compared to last year. The Russian invasion of Ukraine obviously affects the number of seasonal workers since the majority of them are Ukrainians,” Pauliina Helminen, Director of the Permits and Nationality Unit, says.
In addition, the number of residence permits issued to seasonal workers is also falling. A seasonal work permit for work lasting three to six months was issued to 692 people in the first half of the year, increasing to 1,619 in 2021. Another 262 permits were issued to workers for a period of six to nine months, almost halved compared to 403 in 2021.
Data from the Finnish authorities show that 68% of those applying for temporary protection are adults and 20,153 are of working age – women of working age being the main applicants (75%).