In an interview with Delfi, the director of the International School of Estonia, Kathleen Naglee, says she wishes it were easier for immigrants working and living in Estonia to settle down here.
The residence permit expires quickly once a non-European is in between jobs and the restrictions do not encourage entrepreneurial activity, said Naglee, a US citizen who has lived in Estonia for nearly 10 years and is a board member of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Indeed, one can start a company in 15 minutes, Naglee said, echoing Estonia's claim to fame, but that's only if one can stay in the country for long enough, she said. In order for Estonia to remain an attractive destination, it also needs to ensure an efficient and open migration policy, minority awareness and improved access to the linguistic environment, she said.
Naglee said Estonia is attractive to specialists and management-level employees for the relatively high quality of life. Although in many areas prices have caught up to European levels, she said, residential expenses are still significantly lower than in, say, Finland.
Most foreigners coming to Estonia are single professionals, she said, as only the largest companies can afford to relocate whole families.
One of the potential difficulties of living in Estonia could be not knowing the language, she said. Also, life is generally more complicated for women, handicapped persons, and ethnic and sexual minorities, she said.
Still, she said, in her experience Estonians have become more open, friendly and international.