President Alar Karis did not promulgate amendments to the Aliens Act and sent the bill back to the Riigikogu on Thursday following breach of procedural rules by the parliament.
The Riigikogu passed the immigration amendments on April 11 but the Office of the President said parliament broke procedural rules when adopting it as significant changes were made by its Constitutional Committee between the second and third readings.
During this period, only minor changes can be made, such as correcting typos or citations. But in this case, the word "spouse" was changed to "close relative" which is deemed to be a substantial change rather than a correction.
As bills are adopted on the third reading, MPs do not have the possibility to suggest additional amendments to the text.
Due to this, it was said this act changed the parliamentary decision-making process and did not allow some members of the Riigikogu to fully participate in shaping the law.
Karis said he understood the "importance and urgency" of passing the law and believes it is necessary for MPs to discuss the amendments again. He said he hoped the President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) would put the bill on the agenda again as soon as possible.
Opposition parties had asked the president not to promulgate the law. EKRE leader Martin Helme made the request over social media while Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder sent a letter to the president.
"In addition to the catastrophic content, the bill was pushed through in violation of the law," Helme wrote.
The Riigikogu will not be able to discuss the act again before May 2 as it does not sit next week.
Editor: Helen Wright