Settling in Estonia will Become Easier for Foreign Specialists

Sander Nõmmik
Author Sander Nõmmik

On January 1 amendments to the Aliens Act came into force, making settling in Estonia easier for foreign specialists and highly qualified people looking for long-term self-fulfillment in Estonia.

“Amendments to the Aliens Act continue the changes already introduced two years ago,” says the Minister of the Interior Mr. Hanno Pevkur. “We welcome foreigners who are ready to contribute to the development of Estonia. The changes will make it easier for foreigners coming to Estonia to deal with necessary documents and will ensure better self-fulfillment conditions”.

The major ammendments include:

  • Since January a foreigner who comes to work to Estonia is able to simultaneously work for several employers upon the condition that work-related provisions set out in the residence permit are complied with. In order to commence work with another employer a permission of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, payment of the salary in the amount set out in the law and notification are no longer required.
  • Approval of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund required to apply for a residence permit for working in Estonia is no longer personalized. It means that the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund may provide to a company an approval to fill one or several workplaces with foreigners, where employees with respective skills and qualifications cannot be found in Estonia.
  • It is now possible for companies to use the services of the companies offering intermediation of hired labour to hire people from abroad; a deposit of 10 per cent of the salary fund has to be paid by the recruitment company hiring and a satisfactory reason to use the hired labour from outside the European Union has to be provided.
  • In order to provide for a more flexible extension of Estonian residence a 90-day transitional period is provided after the expiration of a residence permit (183-day period with regard to foreign students graduated from Estonian universities and researchers/professors). During this time period a foreigner may stay in Estonia and apply for a residence permit on a new basis – be it a residence permit for establishing one’s own business, working or further studies.
  • Since January 1 it is possible to apply for a new type of temporary residence permit, a permit for settling permanently in Estonia (more information from the Police and Border Guard Board web site here). It can be issued to a foreigner for a period of up to five years, and its aim is to make it easier for people who have adapted to life in Estonia and received a residence permit to continue living, working, studying and doing business in Estonia.
  • An agreement from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund to work is no longer needed for foreigners who have graduated from Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctor’s level, or Integrated (Bachelor’s + Master’s) studies at the Estonian universities.
  • New types of institutions were added to the list of institutions who can hire scientists from abroad, using simplified procedures.
  • It is no longer required for an Estonian company to have worked for 12 months to hire foreign top specialists, in case its mother company has existed for 12 months and has a turnover of at least € 10 million.
  • The government can name sectors in which it is possible to hire foreign workers without the agreement from the Estonian Uneployment Funt in order to reduce the lack of workforce or bring people with specific skills to work in Estonia.
  • If a job contract with a foreigner is terminated by an employer for economic reasons before the deadline stated in the contract, the living permit of the foreigner is not terminated until 90 days from the termination of the contract.
  • There are no more restrictions for foreigners with living permits for business to work in Estonia.
  • Insurance is needed for foreigners who are not subject to Estonian health insurance. It can be provided by Estonian and foreign insurance companies.  (The companies that currently provide this kind of insurance in Estonia are: AS Inges Kindlustus, ERGO Life Insurance SE Eesti , and Salva Kindlustuse AS)
  • Companies hiring foreigners are required to check if the people being hired have the right to live and work in Estonia.

As of the beginning of 2016 23,787 foreigners possess temporary Estonian residence permits. Majority of them are citizens of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, followed by people with no citizenship and citizens of the United States of America.

Find out more about the process of applying for a temporary living permit on the website of Estonian Police and Border Guard.

Read the Aliens Act here.