Syrian citizens may obtain a visa to Turkey, says Tarvo Nieminen, Administrative Officer for Consular Services in Finland's Embassy in Ankara. Over the past few days, the Finnish media has reported about Syrian citizens' difficulties to get a visa to Turkey.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE reported about a case where the spouses of Syrian men, who had been granted asylum in Finland, had not been able to get a visa to Turkey in order to submit a family reunification application.
"The Finnish Embassy will send the person applying for family reunification a confirmation of an appointment at the Embassy. After receiving the confirmation, the person should immediately contact the Turkish authorities to apply for a visa", Nieminen says.
"The processing times of the Turkish authorities may be several months. Customers complain about a backlog of Turkish visa services. If the visa process is delayed, the Finnish Embassy in Ankara can offer a new appointment to the applicant,” Nieminen says.
“The problem may be that people submit their visa applications too late. People should react earlier and notify the Finnish Embassy if the Turkish authorities are unable to arrange appointments," Nieminen says.
Pasi Tuominen, Director General of Consular Services at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, reminds that Turkish authorities are responsible for Turkey's visa policies and procedures.
"We cannot affect the processing times of visa applications. Our Embassy in Ankara is aware that it takes a long time to get a visa. However, it also takes several months to get an appointment at the Finnish Embassy, so the waiting times are almost as long."
At the moment, appointments for a family reunification application at Finland's Embassy in Ankara can be provided for November.
According to Tuominen, the Finnish authorities have no information about an individual case where a Syrian citizen had been denied a visa.
"We have agreed with the Turkish authorities that we can request for information on possible negative visa decisions."
A majority of the applications received by the Finnish Embassy in Ankara are submitted by Iraqi citizens. The share of the Syrian applicants is relatively small.
"Last year Syrians accounted for some 15 per cent of all applicants in Ankara. In 2015, the Finnish Embassy in Ankara received 78 residence permit applications from Syrian citizens," says Nieminen.
According to the statistics of the Finnish Immigration Service, in 2015 Syrians submitted a total of 119 residence permit applications based on family ties. During the same time, the number of Iraqi citizens' residence permit applications based on family ties was 454. The figures include applications also submitted in other places than Turkey.
This year, the number of Syrian citizens' applications is on the increase. During the first half of 2016, Syrian citizens have submitted 100 and Iraqi citizens 370 applications.
The consular services offered by the Finnish Embassy in Ankara are to be accelerated by outsourcing certain stages of the processing of family reunification applications.
In the pilot stage, outsourcing could be applied, for example, to providing general guidance to customers, arranging appointments (for submitting applications and for possible interviews), collecting fees, collecting biometric identifiers and photographing the applicants.