Estonia granted short-term work permits to 28,297 in 2019

Construction workers working for an Estonian company. Source: Rene Suurkaev/ERR

Last year, Estonia granted short-term work permits to 28,297 people from third countries. It also issued over 32,000 registrations for employment during fixed periods, and as of January 1, 18,608 such registrations remained in force.

"The number of applications for short-term employment by foreigners to be approved in 2019 was 32,247," a representative of the Ministry of the Interior explained. "The difference in numbers can be attributed to the fact that one foreigner's employment may consist of several periods, in between which the foreigner did not have a valid work permit. The difference can also be attributed to the fact that employment registration is employer- and place of employment-based, and someone leaving for work elsewhere requires the re-registration of employment by the other employer."

Of short-term work permits, three quarters were granted to Ukrainians, nearly 2,000 to Belarusians, some 1,500 to Russian citizens and just over 1,000 to Moldovans. 34 countries were represented by five or more people.

"The percentage of Ukrainian citizens among short-term employee registrations is high for several reasons," the ministry representative explained. "One reason is Ukraine's large population, and another is the fact that one can get by in Estonia very well speaking Russian. As the situation is unstable in some regions in Ukraine and the country's economy is in bad shape as well, they come to work in Estonia short-term in order to stably earn higher income in a safe country. Once the employment relationship comes to an end, they return to Ukraine."

The ministry representative also noted that the hope is often to remain living in Estonia, however this is not possible with a visa or under visa freedom; it is still necessary to apply for a residence permit.

"The immigration quota of 0.1 percent of Estonia's permanent population, or 1,314 in 2020, applies to the residence permits granted to Ukrainian citizens for employment," they explained.

By employer principle economic activity, some one third of registrations went to the construction field, just under a quarter to manufacturing, and one tenth to forestry and agriculture. Another more than thousand registrations of short-term employment went to other service activities, transport and storage, accommodation and catering, administration and support services, wholesale and retail, and motor vehicle and motorcycle repair.

Short-term employment may be registered for up to 365 days in a 455-day period. It is possible to register short-term employment for a longer period of time in the case of teachers, working as a teacher, research activities, top specialists or employment with a startup. Seasonal short-term employment may be registered for a period of up to 270 days.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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