The government announced on Thursday that it would pursue a scheme according to which foreigners can sign a contract with the Estonian state, the eventual purpose of which is naturalization.
Interior Minister Andres Anvelt (SDE) said at Thursday’s government press conference that once the Riigikogu had adopted an according law, people without Estonian citizenship that have lived in Estonia legally for at least five years will have the option to enter into an agreement with the state, committing to studying Estonian and attaining B1 level at least.
B1 level speakers can understand the main points of clear standard language on familiar matters in the context of work, school, leisure, and so on. They can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken, they can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest, and they can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions as well as briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans, as the Common European Framework of Reference for Language specifies.
Once the contract was signed, the foreigners would also be required to make achieving naturalization and becoming citizens one of their goals, Anvelt said.
To be eligible a foreigner needs to meet all the requirements valid for applicants for Estonian citizenship. According to Anvelt, individuals’ criminal records would also be looked at.
As the contract specifies it, the state will then pay for language instruction. In addition, signing the contract will mean an additional 20 days off per year an individual’s employer is required to grant them and which the state will pay for at the rate of the national average wage.
“The agreement will be deemed fulfilled when the individual has completed the language courses to the required extent, successfully passed a B1 level language test, and filed their application with the Police and Border Guard for citizenship,” Anvelt said.
If the individual signing the contract should violate its terms, the government would have the right to make claims in the amount of the services provided.
In its initial phase, the scheme would be tested with up to 1,000 people over a period of three years, Anvelt added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn