The amendments aim to offer greater flexibility to those foreign citizens who are on temporary residence permit but want stay in Estonia on a more permanent basis.
Once the amendments enter into force, a 90-day transition period (183 days for graduates and research/university staff) is established, during which an application for a new permit on different grounds must be put in. If they meet the conditions, citizens of foreign states are no longer required to leave the country immediately after their visa expires.
A new basis for granting residence permits - "temporary residence permit for becoming a permanent resident" - will be added to the existing ones. People who have lived in Estonia for at least three of the past five years are eligible to apply. Other standard requirements - a legal income, place of residence in Estonia and a valid health insurance policy - must be met as well.
In addition, the government plans to establish a list of industries and fields that suffer from lack of qualified workers. People working in those areas may be granted special work permits under separate terms.
The amendments should come into effect on January 1, 2016.