Record year for visas
Both Norway and Finland issued a record peak of Schengen visas to inhabitants in Barents Russia in 2012.
Murmansk had the sharpest increase among all Finnish visa-offices in Russia last year with a 37 percent growth. 63,488 visas were issued by Finland’s Consulate branch-office, up from 46,364 the previous year. In Petrozavodsk, the Karelian capital, the increase was 11,000 visas to 84,884, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Finland’s four missions in Russia processed a total of 1,324,680 visas, a number that counts for 95 percent of all visas issued to Finland world-wide in 2012. The visa-processing office in St. Petersburg alone issued for the first time last year more than one million visas.
Also the Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk received a record high number of Schengen-visas applications last year, in total 23,300. That is 3,300 more than in 2011. While a Schengen-visa to Finland is valued for a year, more and more of the visas issued by Norway in Barents Russia is valid for multiple years. First time applicants from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts receive a one-year valid visa, and then followed by three-years valid and steps up to a maximum of five-year valid period in the end.
“70 percent of the applicants in the period from January to October last year got multiple-entry visas to Norway,” says head of the visa-section at Norway’s Consulate General in Murmansk Marit Egholm Jacobsen to BarentsObserver.
“We do not expect a sharp increase in applications this year, due to the fact that more and more of the visas we issue are valid for multiple years,” says Marit Egholm Jacobsen.
A growing number of applicants come from Arkhangelsk where Norway has an Honorable Consul office. The office got 1,751 applications last year, up from 1,295 in 2011. This applications are handeled at the Consulate General in St. Petersburg and comes in addition to the increase in Murmansk.
Norway will next week open a new visa application centre in Murmansk in order to provide better services and longer opening ours for the customers.