Despite Finland closing its border for travelers from Russia last year, many of them holding valid visas have continued to enter its territory.
According to data provided by the Finnish Border Guard, a total of 973,337 border crossings were registered at the eastern border by the end of July, with half of the people arriving from Russia to Finland and the other half going from Finland to Russia.
As Yle explains, such a number of border crossings is significantly higher compared to those who crossed Norway’s northern border, which was not closed to Russian tourists despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Even though Russians were permitted to pass through Norway’s northern border, Yle notes that the number of crossings from Russia reached almost 40,000 by the end of July.
Such a difference in the number of border crossings has been attributed to the number of valid visas that both countries have issued and are currently valid.
Data show that currently, 3,900 Russians hold valid Schengen visas issued by Norway, and 120,000 of them hold valid Schengen visas issued by Finland.
Commenting on the matter as well as on the large number of Finland visas that are still valid, the Head of the Immigration Unit at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Katja Luopajärvi, said that the majority of the visas were issued for a longer validity period – up to five years.
Luopajärvi further stressed that there are still valid visas that were issued during the pre-pandemic period and noted that the number has started to decrease.
“The large number is due to the fact that the Schengen visa can be issued as a multiple entry visa, and then it is valid for a maximum of five years. We still have valid visas that were issued before 2019. Their number is decreasing all the time, but the large number of valid ones is due to this,” the statement of Luopajärvi reads.
While almost one million Russians crossed the Finland-Russia border since the beginning of the year until the end of July, around 1,300 were refused entry to the country.
Nonetheless, the authorities did not disclose the reasons why they were refused entry, saying that the cases are not separately recorded.
“The reasons for allowing entry in each case are not separately recorded,” the Head of the Border Guard’s Situation and Risk Analysis Centre, Mikko Lehmus, said for Yle.
He further stressed that they have not kept track of whether Russians entering Finland have continued their journey to other Schengen countries.