Family reunification in Finland can easily cost a migrant thousands of euros

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Affluent Nordic countries like Finland are making it legally near-difficult never mind costly to reunite families of migrants thanks to the tightening of family reunification guidelines that came into force in July.  How much would it cost for an asylum seeker who got a residence permit before July and applied to get his wife and three children aged 9, 7 and 4 to Finland?

Is your answer 1,000 euros or over 10,000 euros?

The Finnish government places a price tag on migrant families. No money, no family. Source: Arab News.

If the figure is a four-digit number, where are these people, who are former asylum seekers, going to raise thousands of euros if many have lost everything to come to Europe?

Why would a country like Finland, which claims to abide by Nordic values such as social equality and respect for family life, want to separate families indefinitely?

Zygmunt Bauman is one of the best-known social thinkers of our time. He believes that asylum seekers who come to Europe instill fear in some of us for a very basic reason.

“[They are] people who yesterday were proud of their homes, were proud of their position in society, were very often very well educated, very well-off and so on,” Bauman is quoted as saying in Al-Jazeera. “But they are refugees now…Refugees, ’embody all our fears’ of losing everything. Yesterday they were very powerful back in their country, like we are here [in Europe] today.”

In order to answer voters’ uncertainty and their fear of losing everything, populist anti-immigration politicians tell us a big lie:  Vote for me and I will give you security. We will take these refugees and hide them from your sight. We won’t allow their families to come here so they cannot reporduce here and upset our white society. If we don’t see these people, they won’t remind us  – as Bauman stated – that we may be one day in the same boat as they.

Without going into a deep discussion about the fear of losing our standing in society, the Finnish government tightened family reunification guidelines in June. The new guidelines came into force in July.

If you are lucky to have received your residence permit before July, you won’t have to make 2,600 euros after taxes in order to bring your spouse and two children to Finland.

But let’s go back to the original question: How much would it cost a former asylum seeker who got a residence permit to bring his wife and three children to Finland?

According to the Iraqi who got a residence permit before July, the total cost to bring his family would be over 10,000 euros. There is no guarantee as well that the Finnish Immigration Service will grant his family a visa to live in Finland even if he raises such a sum of cash.

The cost of bringing a family to Finland can be put in two stages, according to the Iraqi.

The first stage involves travel to the Finnish embassy in Ankara, Turkey, room and board in Ankara, travel documents (passport, birth and marriage certifactes, certified translations) and the second stage, travel to Finland.

FIRST PHASE: Trip to Finnish embassy in Ankara, Turkey* 

  • 1,500 US dollars to get passport, birth certificates, marriage certificate translated into English;
  • 1,000 dollars for a 3-6-month visa to Turkey to visit Finnish embassy in Ankara;
  • 1,600 US dollars to get documents of family members certified by the Finnish embassy;
  • 1,200 US dollars (plane tickets Baghdad-Ankara-Baghdad);
  • 150 US dollars to travel from the hometown by taxi to Baghdad Airport;
  • 500 US dollars (staying at a hotel for 10 days in Ankara);
  • 500 US dollars and other expenses such as meals.

 TOTAL FOR FIRST PHASE: 6,450 US dollars (5,925 euros)

SECOND PHASE: Trip to Finland from Iraq*

  • 150 US dollars to travel by taxi from hometown to Baghdad Airport;
  • New visa (1,000 US dollars) to Turkey if decision by the Finnish Immigration Service takes more than six months;
  • 1,200 US dollars plane tickets Baghdad-Ankara;
  • 1,400 US dollars for plane tickets Ankara-Helsinki;
  • 400 US dollars for room and board in Ankara;
  • 408 US dollars by train from Helsinki to Kemi.

TOTAL FOR SECOND PHASE: 3,558 US dollars (3,269 euros)/4,558 US dollars or 4,187 euros if new visa for Turkey required

GRAND TOTAL: 10,008 US dollars (9,194 euros)/11,008 US dollar or 10,113 euros if a new visa for Turkey is required 

Why do we want to add to the suffering of the most vulnerable people that have endured, and continue to endure, so much suffering?

Could the government answer this question?

* These are only rough estimates.