The government has approved an exception to sanctions that allows Russian and Belarusian students, doctors and researchers to apply for a new residence permit.
The sanctions exception does not qualify those who may be eligible to a new residence permit automatically. Every application will be analyzed separately to weigh whether the person qualifies.
Narrow exceptions will be put in place for Russian or Belarusian students, doctors, dentists and academic staff who are in Estonia legally.
These exceptions will apply to persons who came to study or work in Estonia before the start of Russia's full-scale military aggression in Ukraine and who have passed all necessary Estonian language tests, Estonian curricula and have at least the B2 proficiency level in Estonian. The language requirement does not apply to academic workers.
During the 2022/2023 academic year, there are 298 Russian or Belarusian citizens subject to sanctions studying in Estonian universities. The planned exception will primarily concern 78 persons who are close to completing an Estonian curriculum.
Making an exception for students who speak Estonian and have graduated in Estonia does not harm the main aim of sanctions to limit new Russian or Belarusian citizens coming to Estonia as the exception only concerns people already in Estonia.
Data from the Health Board suggests nine doctors have come to Estonia from Russia and six from Belarus in 2022-2023. Also, one dentist from Russia and three from Belarus.
The Ministry of Social Affairs said that all doctors and dentists who have already passed the necessary qualification and language tests, been registered and allowed to practice in Estonia should be kept, irrespective of where they're from.
According to the Ministry of Education and Research, Estonian universities currently employ three academic employees in the exception's target group who have the right of temporary stay and have been issued visas after the start of Russia's full-scale aggression but before sanctions were ordered.
The Estonian Council of Rectors asked the government in early May to allow Russian citizens studying in Estonian universities to conclude their studies and stay in Estonia either to continue their education or look for work.
Editor: Marcus Turovski