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Migration overview: Most arrivals from Ukraine, most departures to Finland

People waiting at one of PPA's migration offices.
People waiting at one of PPA's migration offices. Source: (ERR)

Most of the foreigners that entered Estonia in the past two years were either from Ukraine or Russia. The most popular country for those leaving the country is still Finland. In two years 18,254 people moved to Estonia, while 26,795 moved away.

According to data of the Ministry of the Interior, 8,104 people settled in Estonia in 2015 and 10,150 in 2016. Around 3,000 of the new arrivals were Ukrainian and Russian citizens, some 1,500 from Finland, 900 from Germany, and just under 700 from Latvia.

Beyond Estonia’s immediate neighbors, there were also 344 immigrants from Nigeria, 145 from Bangladesh, 200 from China, 317 from India, and 87 from South Korea.

Most of the people moving to Estonia do so for work. This main reason for coming here is followed by family reasons. The third most common reason is because people plan to study in Estonia.

The number of people granted the right of residence in Estonia grew noticeably in 2016. According to Merje Klopets of the Ministry of the Interior, this is due to a new kind of permit introduced last year aimed at all those who spent at least three years living in Estonia within a five-year period. “The aim is to make it easier for people who are settled in to remain here,” Klopets explained.

She added that this kind of residency permit wasn’t available for foreigners coming to Estonia for the first time, or for those who previously held another Estonian residency permit.

“A limited residency permit, for example for studying, working, or starting a business is available for application also to foreigners who are coming to Estonia for the first time. At the same time it’s important to point out that this statistic also covers those who came here to study and later applied for a work permit,” Klopets said.

Fewer people leave for Finland

Last year 13,792 people previously registered in Estonia moved abroad, slightly more than 2015’s 13,003. Finland remains the most popular destination, though at 2,600 fewer people moved there in 2016 than in 2015, when more than 3,200 left the country for Finland.

The second most popular destination is the United Kingdom, followed by Russia, Germany, Sweden, Ukraine, and Spain.

The most people are leaving Estonia from Harju County: In 2015, 6,464 left Estonia’s most densely populated region, and 6,926 in 2016. Tartu is already far behind, at 1,503 in 2015 and 1,572 in 2016.

Most of the people leaving Estonia were between 15 and 49 years old. Their number reached 9,451 in 2015 and 9,959 in 2016. Of those older than 50, some 1,400 left in 2015 and 2,700 in 2016. The smallest group is that of children, where only some 1,100 each left in 2015 and 2016.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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