Archive for March 23rd, 2011

23.03.11 – I’ve dealt with a number of Finnish beauracracies since moving here and I can honestly say most are friendly and extremely efficient. I recently went to the Immigration Service, located on the outskirts of Helsinki in Malmi, to renew my residence permit and I can honestly say I hate dealing with the process. The people who work there are miserable, the waiting time is way to long and the process is confusing.

Here’s what happened on my last visit. The doors open at 0800 and it’s best to be there early because there will usually be at least 10 to 20 other people waiting outside to queue up. The people waiting to get in are usually spread out in little clusters smoking and/or talking but as the minutes approach to opening everyone starts moving closer and closer to the door until your shoulder to shoulder, pushing and shoving as the doors open.

The next step is the one that always confuses me. You have to pick from one of four options to get a number to be serviced. Returning documents, No EU and EU family members, all other nationalities and Final Decisions are the options. If you choose the wrong number, which I have done in the past, you’re screwed because you have to wait to get in to find out you have the wrong number. There isn’t anyone in the lobby to ask for assistance. On this visit, I read the choices carefully, or so I thought, waited over two hours before I got in and found out I chose the wrong number!!! Urg! The day was over for this visit because now to choose the correct number, there are already 15+ people in front of you which equates to a four-hour wait.

I can imagine why most of the people who work there are miserable because they have to bear the brunt of everyone’s frustration. When I found out I had the wrong number, the immigration officer did take the time to review my current residence status and made a recommendation to schedule an appointment online since I was not in a rush to renew. Luckily I was starting the process well in advance of my permit expiring. I was hoping to take care of one more thing which is on my “worry list” but instead, I have to go back again.

Now, if only I could find the link to schedule an appointment!!!

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