Center Party rejects changes made by Helme to Aliens Act draft ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Although amendments to the Aliens Act were agreed in by ministers at the beginning of July, the Ministry of the Interior's final draft also contains changes which had not been agreed and will probably not be agreed in the future.

On July 6, the three coalition parties agreed on five amendments concerning foreign students. These were, for example, restrictions on the family members of foreign students, tuition fees and the obligation to leave Estonia if the student's studies are interrupted.

However, the final draft amendment to the Aliens Act prepared by the Ministry of the Interior contains several more changes. For example, the bill stipulates that an international student may work only 20 hours a week.

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) said the statistics clearly show students from certain countries come to Estonia to study and also start working, after a time they then drop out of university. "But they have created a different legal basis for their stay in Estonia in connection with their job, and then they bring their families," said Helme.

Another change the ministry has introduced to the bill would also establish a minimum wage requirement for foreigners, which would be one and a half times the average gross monthly wage in Estonia. In doing so, the Police and Border Guard Board would have the right to check if foreigners are paid directly to their bank accounts. The average wages is approximately €1,400.

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the party supports the agreed study mobility points but not all the additional changes introduced by the ministry.

"As for the one and a half times average salary thing, it was not in this package. We can certainly discuss it, like all other things," said Reinsalu.

The Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) said the draft prepared at the Ministry of the Interior is largely the same as that sent for approval last year, which did not receive approval. At the same time, according to Reps, this draft is very far from what was agreed at the beginning of July.

Reps said she does not agree with a restriction on working hours. "We think it's right that if young people pay for their studies themselves, they have the opportunity to work, just as we have all had the opportunity to do when we study abroad," she said.

Reps added the Center Party also does not agree with the requirement of one and a half times the average salary in Estonia. All this means that the draft will not move forward. 

According to Reps, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme has been informed that he should present the draft agreed by the coalition to the cabinet.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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