The lifting of restrictions on crossing the land Russian-Finnish border caused a surge in applications for the Finnish Schengen, especially among St. Petersburg and residents of the Northwestern Federal District. How long does it take to apply for a visa to Finland, is there a high risk of visa refusal, and what are the most common mistakes tourists make when applying?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO APPLY FOR A FINNISH VISA IN ST. AND MOSCOW
On social networks, Russians report that they are experiencing difficulties with registering at Finnish visa centers to apply.
According to them, there are no free slots in St. Petersburg for July and until mid-August for the usual filing of documents. The situation in Moscow is less tense: in the capital there were free “windows” for the first half of August, and when applying through the premium hall – in July.
At the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg, Vestnik ATOR was confirmed an increase in the number of visa applications by St. Petersburg residents against the backdrop of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, and the fact that the entry to the visa center for the next month is “very tight”.
Nevertheless, there are chances: both for July and August, you can “catch” slots for submitting applications both to the premium hall (the service will cost an additional 60 euros per person) and to the regular entry. Free “windows” periodically appear at the expense of “refuseniks” – applicants who, for some reason of their own, canceled their reservations.
Recall that there are no longer any covid requirements for entering Finland, both with Finnish and from the Russian side (since July 15).
There is no direct air connection with Finland, but Russians can cross the Russian-Finnish border by land for tourism purposes from July 15, 2022 on personal and other vehicles (for example, on buses, since there are no trains), just like before the pandemic.< /p>
To enter Finland they will need a Schengen visa issued by Finland (single entry or multiple entry) or a valid multiple entry issued by any other Schengen country.
HOW MUCH FINNISH SCHENGEN IS MADE IN PETERSBURG
Despite the sharp increase in the number of applications, the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg strives to consider all accepted visa applications within ten days. Finnish diplomats refrained from predicting when the rush demand will subside and the situation will return to normal.
“Due to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions for travelers by Finland, it is now difficult to assess the increase in the number of applicants and the duration of the hype. We can once again confirm that the lifted restrictions have increased demand and now everyone can apply for a visa,” the press service of the diplomatic mission explained.
According to the consulate, the number of accepted visa applications in St. Petersburg is about 550 per day in July. Since the beginning of July (as of July 7) about 2,700 applications have been accepted. For comparison: for the whole of June of this year, about 10,000 applications were received. But, of course, in June of pre-pandemic 2019, Russians were 6 times more interested in Finland – then 66,000 applications were submitted.
Since October 2021, Finland has been issuing visas to holders of an expired Finnish Schengen visa (the validity of visas should have been at least 2 years) and business tourists. According to the Consulate General, from October last year to June 2022, more than 74,000 visas were issued, of which over 90% were tourist visas.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Finland ranked first in the number of Schengen visas issued in Russia and was one of the most popular countries for Russians to travel (however, for the most part, not related to tourism).
In 2019, Finnish representations in the Russian Federation issued a total of 790,000 Schengen visas. In the same year, Russians made 3.7 million trips to Finland.
FINNISH VISAS ARE REJECTED VERY RARELY
Information is circulating in social networks that the Consulate General of Finland issues five-year visas. The Finnish diplomatic mission explained that the validity of a visa is determined individually – based on the visa application and the visa history of the applicant.
What will definitely please Petersburgers is a high probability of obtaining a Finnish visa, including a multiple one. The vast majority of Schengen visas issued by the Consulate General of Finland are multiple entry Schengen visas. The visa refusal rate is very low (less than 1% of the total number of applications).
The Consulate General reminded that the rules for accepting documents for a visa have remained unchanged since October last year.
When asked by ATOR Bulletin whether it is necessary to confirm a trip to Finland, the Consulate General answered as follows: Finland should be the main country for travel on a Schengen visa issued by Finland.
When applying for a visa and a package of documents the applicant must attach a written travel plan. Earlier, Finnish diplomats explained: if the applicant travels to Finland by his own car, he describes the proposed route in free form. For example, the border checkpoint, the region of destination, the intended stores (in general, it is for them, and not for tourist attractions, that most Russians go to Finland), the way home.
For tourists, this can be confirmation of accommodation/booking at a hotel or cottage, an invitation or relevant travel documents (bus ticket, for example).
THE MOST COMMON ERRORS WHEN APPLYING FOR A FINNISH VISA
According to the information of the Consulate General of Finland, The main difficulties for Russians are related to the submission of an incomplete package of necessary documents. In addition, the poor quality of photographs often makes it difficult to process applications.