Next year's migration quota in Estonia will be 1,303, the government decided Thursday.
The figure is slightly down on this year's number of 1,307, or the 1,311 allocated in 2022.
The migration quota is Estonia's own domestically set figure and refers to people moving from so-called third countries, primarily non-EU/EEA states.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets said that there are plans to leave a greater proportion of the quota for freer distribution, in the light of the changed economic environment.
"We have taken into account the expectations of various interest groups, which have arisen in the changing economic environment," the minister said.
"This year, the freely allocated part of the limit was 313, whereas next year that figure will be 1,014. We have always been flexible in this respect, but this year we are targeting less areas than before, due to the economic situation," he added.
In other words a smaller proportion of the quota will be dedicated to specific people in set job areas or specialties, for instance.
The quota helps ensure that specialists whose contribution is key to Estonian society, can relocate to Estonia.
"In this way, it is possible to issue temporary residence permits for employment in areas important to Estonia, where there is a need for labor, but where the local workforce does not cover the needs of the labor market.
The quota also ensures that gaps in the labor market not covered by local hires are made up by the arrivals, rather than the latter competing for workplaces which could otherwise be filled by people already living here, Läänemets said.
The reduced quota in recent years has also led to a small fall in the number of permanent residents in Estonia – ie. foreign nationals holding permanent, rather than temporary, residency.
Demand for labor in Estonia has been rising in recent years, and the migration quota has also been met due to the needs of the workforce, making it justifiable to introduce an immigration limit capped at 0.1 per cent of the permanent population of Estonia for 2024 too, the minister said.
The quota excludes both ICT professionals and also foreign nationals hired to work in start-ups, as well as those moving for study, teaching or family reasons, significant investors and some other top specialists.
Most years the quota is rapidly filled and within the first few weeks of that year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel