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Major drop in Schengen visa applications submitted at Finnish missions because of entry restrictions and health security measures due to COVID-19 pandemic
Ministry for Foreign Affairs 3.3.2021 13.28PRESS RELEASE
In 2020, Finland processed a total of 152,543 applications for a Schengen visa. The decrease in the visa applications received was 83% as compared to the number of visas processed in 2019 (895,781).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Finland, like the other Schengen countries, suspended the reception of regular visa applications, including tourist visas, on 19 March 2020. Since that date, the reception of visa applications has been continued for certain exceptional categories identified jointly within the EU and by the Finnish Government, observing Finland’s national entry restrictions. Constraints on all activities, including the provision of entry services in both Finnish missions abroad and through the reception services of external service providers, have moreover been imposed by the local authorities, depending on each country’s specific disease situation. The great majority of visa applications for Finland and a significant number of residence permit applications are normally received by an external service provider.
Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a clear downturn in the number of visa applications across the world. This decline is reflected not only in Finland’s visa records but also in those kept by the other Schengen countries. These exceptional circumstances are ongoing.
In 2020, by far the largest number of applications received by Finland were made by Russian nationals, like before. Whereas in 2019 Russians submitted 786,407 visa applications, the number fell significantly in 2020, being a mere 116,818.
There was similarly a significant decrease in the number of visa applications submitted in China, a country that had shown a growing interest in travel to Finland before the pandemic. Visa applications received from Beijing decreased by 81% and those submitted in Shanghai fell by 77% in 2020 as compared to the previous year.