Recruitment of foreign specialists most likely to increase in 2019 despite immigration quota limits

Sander Nõmmik
Author Sander Nõmmik

Many options are available to recruit and employ specialists from overseas despite having reach the limit of applications for temporary residence permits for employment and business.


Already on the 2nd of January, the Police and Border Guard Board announced that over 1,300 applications for temporary residence permits for employment and business were submitted during December of 2018, a number that exceeds the 0,01% immigration quota established in the Aliens Act. While this issue presents a challenge for several employers, there are still several other options for recruiting and employing specialists from abroad, which do not fall inside that quota.

Namely, ICT specialists and start-up employees are exempted from the quota, as well as top specialists – that is those employees earning double the gross average monthly salary in Estonia. Citizens of Japan and the United States, individuals categorized as big investors and international students (including those having graduated from an Estonian higher education institution) are also exempted from the quota and can be employed in Estonia, with little to none restrictions. You can find all exemptions from the quota here.

In addition, there is also an option to hire foreign specialists for a short-time period (up to one year) with a D-visa. As there are several options on how to hire foreign specialists, the best recommendation is to consult with the Migration Advisors from the Police and Border Guard Board, who can advise official advise free of charge to both foreigners and companies.

Number of foreign specialists in Estonia continue to increase.

Moreover, while the quota might be full, the fact remains that the number of foreign specialists has been steadily growing over the past few years, and 2019 will not be an exception. For instance, in 2018 there was a total of 2794 temporary residence permits for employment given to non-EU nationals, which is an increase big increase compared to 2017.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
TRP for employment 863 1237 1659 1800 2272 2749

For the ICT sector employees, the numbers also in an upwards trend.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
TRP for employment (ICT) 63 101 192 225 263 455

The growth in numbers show that Estonia continues to increase its position every year as a more attractive career and working destination for foreign specialists worldwide.