The Estonian government on Thursday adopted a decision to exempt top specialists from the immigration quota and extend the length of short-term employment. The quota itself, however, will not be raised this year.
The government on Thursday approved proposals made by the immigration regulation work group, the Ministry of the Interior said.
According to Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE), the government did not support all the proposals made by the work group, as besides directing balanced immigration, the next step should be to address the issue of how to help match unemployed Estonians to jobs. "The continuing education and retraining of Estonians must be focused on so that employment would increase in areas with a higher unemployment rate," he added.
Commenting on the decision to exempt top specialists from the immigration quota, Anvelt said that the Estonian labor market needs the skills of top specialists, therefore it is important to help them come to Estonia.
"Extending short-term employment from nine months to one year enables to better reduce the labor shortage in project-based fields," said the minister. "At the same time, short-term employment does not result in changes in the composition of the permanent population." Short-term employees are already not included in the immigration quota.
The government is also proposing to establish a requirement that foreigners who have a temporary residence permit for working in Estonia and wish to apply for a new permit or extend the current one must be required to speak Estonian at the A2, or elementary, level. Temporary residence permits are issued for a period of five years.
The government tasked the Ministry of the Interior with drawing up amendments to the Aliens Act. The work group will also continue working on long-term solutions in the migration field.
For the past few years, Estonia's annual immigration quota has equaled 0.1 percent of the country's permanent population, totaling 1,315 people this year. The first time the quota was exhausted was in December 2016; last year it was exhausted by summer already.
In the first three weeks of 2018, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) received 202 applications for immigration to Estonia that will be handled as part of the annual immigration quota, which applies to employment- and business-related immigration from third countries.
Editor: Aili Vahtla