Visa applications down five-fold during coronavirus crisis
Estonian representations handling visa applications issued almost five times as few visas last year than in 2019.
While 158,779 visa applications were approved in 2019, only 33,387 applications were presented in 2020, which is 79 percent less than in 2019, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Kristina Ots told ERR.
She said Estonian representations have issued 33,481 visas in the first nine months of 2021, which shows that while there will be a small increase compared to last year, the final number will be far from the level in 2019. "The decrease in the number of visa applications is related to the spread of the coronavirus and the imposed restrictions on travel and entry to Estonia," Ots said.
Visas are most commonly issued to Russian citizens.
In addition, the volume of services and assistance operations has also decreased in Estonian embassies. There were 90,751 operations conducted in 2019 and 76,715 in 2020, which is a drop of 15.5 percent. In the first nine months of the ongoing year, there have been 60,018 consulate service operations initiated, which points to the final number being close to what it was in 2019, Ots added.
The number of visa applications decreasing is also reflected in the foreign ministry's revenue, which has also seen a sudden drop. The ministry made €5.239 million in state fees in 2019 and only €1.761 million in 2020.
"The decrease in revenue is mostly linked to the number of visa applications dropping, but it has also been affected by the number of services decreasing," Ots noted.
Still, €5.28 million was considered in the state budget as the foreign ministry's revenue, but that number was decreased to €2 million for the spring state budget. As of now, the revenue is set to €1.48 million for 2021, Ots said.
Revenue will not affect the ministry's opportunities, however, because meeting revenue is not directly connected to costs in any of the governance sectors, Ots emphasized. All state fees will be directed to the central state revenue.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste