2022 third-country migrant quota set at 1,311

Interior ministry building on Pikk Street in Tallinn's Old Town.
Interior ministry building on Pikk Street in Tallinn's Old Town. Source: Google Maps

Estonia's immigration quota for 2022 has been set at 1,311, four fewer than this year's figure. The quota, set by the interior ministry, refers to the number of people from third countries, a loosely-defined term mostly referring to non-European Union/EEA states, permitted to get residency permits.

The same figure had already been proposed in October.

The quota is split almost 50-50, between freely distributed places, and those allocated to specific areas of work or other activity.

Interior minister Kristian Jaani (Center) said: "As minister, I think it is reasonable that the limit is distributed in a targeted manner, and is based on our labor market's needs, adding that the system means: "We can ensure that foreigners who are welcome to Estonia, and whose contribution is important to our society, can come to Estonia."

"For this reason, I am pleased that, over more than a decade, we have been distributing almost half of residence permits on the basis of specific areas. Our intention is to provide for those areas that are important to Estonia, where foreign labor is needed the most, based on the residence permit statistics and short-term employment registrations from recent years," he continued, according to the ministry's website.

The quota is also in line with the provisions of the Aliens Act, and set at 0.1 percent of the total Estonian populace.

The quote primarily regulates labor and business migration from third countries to Estonia, and generally excludes those coming to work in the IT field and also for any start-up, either as a founder or an employee.

Family, some academic, investment and top specialist reasons for immigrating are also not within the purview of the quota – in the latter case where an employer pays at least double the average Estonian monthly wage (currently €1,538).

EU citizens and their family members, citizens of the U.S., the U.K. and Japan, as well as those seeking international protection, are also not subject to the quote.

Jaani added that labor demands have continued to rise in recent years.

The economic affairs ministry, the culture ministry and the foreign ministry also submitted proposals during the process of drawing up the quota.

A total of 637 places are freely distributed, while the breakdown by category of work/activity is as follows:

  • Manufacturing: 300
  • Construction: 200
  • Transport and logistics: 100
  • Athletes, sports coaches, officials and other staff: 26
  • Creative workers: 23
  • Business: 20
  • Residency permit on the basis of an international agreement: 5 

In practice, the quota gets filled very early on in the year; those who missed out on any of the category allocations noted above can still apply in the general allocation (i.e. the 637). Conversely, any category allocations not filled by September 30 2022 will be transferred to the freely distributed segment also.

The interior ministry's website in English is here, while that of the Police and Border Guard Board, the state agency responsible for migration, is here.

An organization representing businesses in Estonia recently said the quota exacerbates, rather than helps solve, ongoing labor shortages, while IT minister Andres Sutt (Reform) last week proposed easing the restrictions.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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