The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that the Finnish General Consulate in St. Petersburg will stop offering its visa application customer service as of September 1.
According to the press release, the Finnish Embassy in Moscow will be accepting applications for consular and immigration matters instead of the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg starting tomorrow – September 1, indicating that Russian citizens now have to submit their visa applications or other immigration-related requests in the main embassy in the Russian capital.
“Finnish visa applications are received at VFS Global’s service centres. VFS Global’s St. Petersburg visa centre and other VFS visa centres operating in the region of northwestern Russia will only accept visa applications from September,” the press release also clarified.
In addition, visa applications can be filed Monday to Friday starting tomorrow, while those applying for a residence permit can also submit their requests to the Finnish Embassy in Moscow. However, applicants will be able to apply for such matters only three days a week – from Monday to Wednesday.
Appointments for visa application and identification for residence permit applications will also be available to book from September 1 but due to resources, less time will be available for both these processes; submitting visa applications and identification for residence permit applications.
Finnish authorities last month stopped accepting visa and residence permit applications in Saint Petersburg, citing resource reasons as the main reason for the decision.
“Visa and residence permit applications to Finland will not be accepted at the visa centre VFS (Visa Facilitation Services Global) office in St. Petersburg from August 1, 2023,” the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland reads.
These decisions followed an announcement by Russian authorities on July 6, which revealed that the Finnish General Consulate in Saint Petersburg would shut down from October 1 of this year.
In response to this decision, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would no longer offer customer service at this consulate from September 1.
On top of the announcements of tense relations with Russia, the Finnish authorities noted that the country would be applying reciprocal measures, with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, stating that Russia’s actions were unbalanced and severe. Finland previously decided to extend the travel restrictions for citizens of Russia, extending restrictions for citizens, with the measures originating as sanctions in response to the Russian war in Ukraine.
The interest of Russian citizens to travel to Finland remains considerably high despite the European country imposing visa restrictions. The Finnish Border Guard has revealed that 973,337 border crossings were registered at the eastern border in July, with half of these being Russians entering Finland and the other half returning from Finland to Russia.
Even though Russians were allowed to pass through Norway’s northern border, the authorities point out that the number of border crossings from Russia peaked at almost 40,000 in July.
Data show that currently, around 120,000 Russians hold valid Schengen visas issued by Finnish authorities.