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Family reunification application took nearly two years and four months to process

Deputy-Ombudsman issues reprimand to Finnish Immigration Service


Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin has issued a reprimand to the Finnish Immigration Service on the ground that it taken nearly two years and four months to process a family reunification application. Under the Foreigners Act, processing must not take longer than nine months. Thus the processing time considerably exceeded what is permitted and was unlawful.

The Finnish Immigration Service's explanation for the delay was that family reunification applications by Somalis required a lot of investigatory work and that the necessary resources had not been appropriated for this purpose.

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin does not find the reasons presented by the Finnish Immigration Service acceptable. Even after the reports had been drafted, an application was still waiting for over a year to be processed. In addition, the view adopted in oversight of legality has been that factors relating to the organisation of work or the adequacy of personnel can not justify a deviation from the obligation that the Constitution imposes to deal with matters without delay.

The public authorities must safeguard implementation of fundamental rights. Therefore, the Finnish Immigration Service has a duty to organise processing of family reunification matters in a way that enables processing to take place without undue delay. The Deputy-Ombudsman finds it a special cause for concern that, according to the reports received, measures of this kind have not yet been commenced.

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin has asked the Finnish Immigration Service and the Ministry of the Interior's immigration department to report, by 14.8.2010, what measures her decision has prompted in the case now under investigation as well as also on a more general level.    

Additional information will be provided by Legal Adviser Astrid Geisor-Goman, tel. +358 (0)9 4321.