OECD report says Estonia has little immigration, few asylum seekers ({{commentsTotal}})

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its International Migration Outlook 2014 study today. Estonia stands out for an unusually low inflow of foreign population and asylum seekers.

Registered foreign residents make up 15.7 percent of the total Estonian population, 85.3 percent of whom are either citizens of the Russian Federation or have an undetermined citizenship.

Of the foreign-born population, the majority was born in the Russian Federation, followed by Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia.

In 2012, Estonia granted citizenship to 173 former citizens from the Russian Federation, 24 from Ukraine, five from Belarus and five from India. At the same time, 521 Estonians gave up their citizenship for that of Finland.

The number of EU citizens in the total population increased by 14.5 percent in 2013, numbering around 20,600. The best represented nationalities are Finnish (5,700), Latvian (3,300) and Lithuanian (2,000).

According to the report, the top 10 donor countries for inflow of foreigners in 2009 were the Russian Federation, Finland, Ukraine, Germany, Latvia, China, Sweden, the United States, Italy and France. There is no comparable information for more recent years.

The number of applications for residence permits, however, is falling. On January 1 of this year, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) had issued 178,800 long-term residence permits and 22,600 temporary ones - 4,000 less in total than in 2013. The small decline in people with undetermined citizenship explains this drop.

The main driver behind applications by non-EU citizens for temporary permits is family migration and employment. The number of issued study visas increased by a quarter in 2013, reaching 680.

The number of asylum seekers has been rising slightly over the past few years, although Estonia continues to have very few requests compared to most other EU countries. According to the PPA, 97 people asked for asylum in 2013, compared to 77 in 2012 and 67 in 2011. Twenty-six applicants were from Vietnam, 17 from Syria and 14 from Russia.

Estonia has accounted for the largest inflow of foreign population into Finland since 2006.