Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE) is seeking opinions on a bill according to which people who have lived in Estonia on a legal basis for at least five years and are seeking citizenship would receive free Estonian language courses.
According to the bill, the state would provide a scholarship for language studies to the people who enter into an agreement with the state to achieve the goal of naturalization.
The bill is focused on foreigners permanently living in Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence and who are seeking Estonian citizenship, but do not speak Estonian at the necessary B1 proficiency level.
According to Population Register data, as of the beginning of February, there were 214,371 stateless persons or persons with citizenship of a foreign country living in Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence.
Since 1998, the Estonian state has offered various opportunities for studying Estonian. Currently, those applying for Estonian citizenshsip can also apply for up to €384 in language study tuition to be covered by the state, but as this can only be applied for after the individual has completed the B1 language proficiency exam and the money takes four of five months to be refunded, this leaves those with lower incomes at a disadvantage as many do not have the money to pay for the courses.
Editor: Aili Vahtla