User driven approach to Finnish Immigration Service's online service

Service for different nationalities and life situations

Rami from Turku moved to Avignon in France due to work in 2008. Two years later, he had a daughter, named Rosa, with his French girlfriend Celeste.

When Rosa turned 6, Rami and Celeste decided to move to Finland so that Rosa could go to a Finnish school. Rami also applied for Finnish citizenship for Rosa.

Applying for a Finnish citizenship for a child was one of the many cases that we set out to address when reforming the Finnish Immigration Service’s online service. In the case of Rami and Celeste, they must file the ”Citizenship declaration for a child born abroad (father is a Finnish citizen)”. The necessary declaration or application would have been different if Rosa had been born in Finland or if Rami and Celeste had been married, or if Rami had been Raisa and Celeste had been Claudio… and so on.


An application guide to help the end user

In addition to the citizenship application, there are aspects with the residence permit applications managed by the Finnish Immigration Service that the applicant must take into consideration in the application process. During the project, we often playfully said that it would be easier for us to try to change the Finnish legislation.

We developed the application guide in order to help the user find the application suitable for their situation. In the guide, the user has to answer single easy questions about their situation. Based on their answers, the user is finally directed to a page that contains all the information essential for their application. The service was implemented by using the Liferay platform.


Eini Perttilä, Communications Coordinator of the Finnish Immigration Service


Customer jury participating in design process

A customer jury set up by the Finnish Immigration Service participated in the online service reform, consisting of volunteers from China, Japan, Nigeria, Nepal, Egypt and Morocco, all resident in Finland. The jury members were interviewed about matters related to terminology and the menu structure, for instance.

”Our customers come from different cultures and speak different languages. Planning the content so that it can be understood even with a poorer linguistic command was challenging,” says Eini Perttilä, Communications Coordinator of the Finnish Immigration Service.

”You must be careful with information classification and navigation on the pages: customers should not become lost with the wrong information if they do not already know how to proceed and how the matter is dealt with in Finland,” she says.

Aiming to reduce calls to the customer service centre

One of the most important goals was to ensure that the customers of the Finnish Immigration Service find the information they need independently without having to call the customer service. One common reason for calling the customer service is to ask about application processing times. With this in mind, we designed a processing time checker on the website that enables website end users to find out the average typical processing time of their application type.

”Most of the questions we receive concern application processing times. We cannot give any more accurate estimate than what the checker provides. We hope that it will now be easier for customers to obtain a more up-to-date picture about application processing times,” Perttilä says.

A pioneer for other online services

The Finnish Immigration Service received an honorary award for its website reform in the Suunnannäyttäjät competition arranged by the Finnish Government for their ”extremely challenging website project in which they had to put themselves in the position of different nationalities, identify with different situations in life, as well as address accessibility at a variety of levels.” We had the honour of enabling the successful implementation of a nationally important project.

”Many thanks to you [Ambientia’s service designer Juha Pihlaja] for your contributions in the project. We appreciate your efforts to take us forward and your patience to argue against publishing complicated bureaucratic jargon,” Perttilä says.

Click below to enter the Finnish Immigration Service’s online service.


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