Applying for a visa during the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis of family ties or an established relationship

Applying for a visa during the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis of family ties or an established relationship

All Finnish missions abroad responsible for entry matters accept visa applications submitted by representatives of defined special groups. Representatives of such special groups include, for example, persons applying for a visa on the basis of family ties or an established relationship. The conditions for issuing a visa under the Schengen Visa Code must also be met.

Updated 4th of January 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, persons residing in Finland, whose spouse, minor children or permanent partner live in a third country, may have had to live apart from their loved-ones for long periods of time. Due to the pandemic, the Schengen countries suspended the application of visa representation agreements in March 2020.

All Finnish missions abroad responsible for entry matters accept visa applications submitted by representatives of defined special groups. Representatives of such special groups include, for example, persons applying for a visa on the basis of family ties or an established relationship.  In this context, family relationship refers to the spouse, partner and minor children of a person who resides in Finland. The conditions for issuing a visa under the Schengen Visa Code must also be met.

If you are legally resident in Finland and your minor child/children, spouse or permanent partner, residing legally in a country where Finland does not have a mission that processes entry permit matters, wants to apply for a visa based on family ties or an established relationship, the following applies:

  1.  If Finland has entered into a visa representation agreement with another Schengen country, Finland can, in individual cases, send a note to request the country representing Finland to handle a visa application submitted by a person belonging to one of the defined special groups. The country representing Finland is not obligated to accept the application because, due to the pandemic, visa representation agreements have been suspended until further notice.

    The country representing Finland makes all decisions starting from accepting the visa application to the decision to grant the visa independently. It observes the Schengen Visa Code and its own national requirements and guidelines, which Finland cannot influence. In many countries, the customer service is congested, which is why it is not possible to predict how long the processing of a visa application may take. 

    Information needed in the note to be sent to the authorities:
    -    The Ministry for Foreign Affairs must inform the name of the visa applicant to the authorities of the other country.
    -    Disclosing the information to the authorities of another country is subject to a written consent by the applicant or his or her guardian. This may be, for example a picture of a signed letter of consent taken by a smartphone.

    In cases described above, please contact the Ministry for Foreign Affairs by email on [email protected] or by phone to +358 295 16001 (switchboard on weekdays between 8.00 and 16.15 Helsinki time).
     
  2. In cases where Finland has not entered into a visa representation agreement with a Schengen country, visa applications can be submitted to a mission of Finland located in the consular district of the applicant’s place of residence.

Finland promotes resumption of visa representation agreements for special groups

Due to the pandemic, visa representation agreements have been suspended since 19 March 2020. The pandemic is continuing and Finland, as the only Schengen country, has proposed the resumption of visa representation agreements for the above-mentioned special groups, but a common European solution has not been reached yet. Finland continues to advance the matter.

Finland has approached all countries representing Finland individually and asked them to restart accepting special groups’ visa applications, including applications submitted by persons in an established relationship. All countries have not yet replied to the request but it is clear that not all of them will be able to resume visa operations under the existing visa representation agreements. Therefore, Finland has decided to launch an arrangement to be applied in individual cases, which will be based on sending a note. In the note, Finland will request a country representing Finland if it was able to accept the visa application in question. This procedure also takes into account the principle of equality laid down in the Constitution of Finland.

The above does not apply to residence permits. Residence permit applications abroad can be processed only at Finland's own missions. Finland does not have an agreement with any Schengen country that would authorise another country to process residence permit applications for Finland. Processing of residence permit applications on behalf of another country would also require compatible information systems. None of the Schengen countries maintains such information systems.