The number of third country nationals living in Estonia on a residence permit issued for the purpose of study, who have invited a member of their family to live in Estonia with them, has almost tripled in the past three years, officials said on Friday.
Ruth Annus, head of the department for citizenship and migration policy at the Estonian Ministry of the Interior, told journalists that the number of third country students inviting their family members to Estonia has been on an upward trend in recent years.
Where in 2017, 61 students from non-EU countries studying in Estonia invited a family member to live with them in Estonia, the number of such students climbed to 90 in 2018 and to 161 last year. Hence the number has almost tripled in three years.
In 2019, students from third countries invited on average 1.5 family members to Estonia per student.
The number of family members invited by third country students to live with them in Estonia was 73 in 2017, 121 in 2018 and 231 in 2019.
Interior Minister Mart Helme said that people from some "risk countries" are using Estonian universities to legalize their stay in the European Union.
"In fact, they are not coming here to study, they are coming to work under the pretext of study. And then they would seek opportunities to bring their next-of-kin, their close relatives with them," Helme said.
The Estonian government on Thursday gave its nod to draft legislation to amend several laws that would make stricter the regulation concerning employment and study by foreigners in Estonia.
The purpose of the bill is to put in order the regulation concerning working by foreigners in Estonia and the terms for the stay, study and taking up of residence by foreigners in Estonia, taking into consideration the constantly changing environment and the new needs it entails, as well as keeping in mind the goals set forth in various national development plans, the government's communication office said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski