The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is reforming the electronic processing of visa applications. Based on the findings of an analysis, the Ministry has decided to set up a visa service centre in Kouvola. The project is part of the Ministry’s overall effectiveness and productivity programme.
According to Lauri Aaltonen, Director General of Consular Services at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the increase in visa applications from Russia has accentuated the need for developing electronic visa services. By implementing this reform, the Foreign Ministry wants to ensure the provision of high-quality visa services in Russia until the objective of visa-free travel shared by the EU and Russia is realised.
Electronic visa processing will in future level out the peaks in the demand for visa services occurring in the various service points in Russia, regardless of which centre does the processing. During the initial stage, some of the visa applications submitted at the diplomatic mission in St. Petersburg, which is the busiest, will be processed in Finland. The service centre concept now planned will also enable utilisation of the entire visa service capacity should any unexpected country-specific changes occur in visa activities.
The pilot project was launched in early April and the Kouvola visa service centre will be opened in August. During the pilot stage, the visa service centre will employ about 60 visa staff whose recruitment is currently underway. According to the plan, piloting of these activities will last until summer 2013, after which the Ministry will decide on their expansion.
According to Lauri Lamminmäki, Mayor of Kouvola, the project is important from the perspective of the city of Kouvola. The visa service centre supports the city’s strategic development objectives and strengthens Kouvola’s position as a bridgehead for services and business relying on the St. Petersburg region. The new visa service centre supports employment and restructuring of industry in the region. The project gives concrete form to the new development opportunities created by the Allegro fast train connection.
Additional information: Lauri Aaltonen, Director General of Consular Services at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5440, Mayor of Kouvola Lauri Lamminmäki, tel. +358 20 615 4680