Immigration quota for 2019 unchanged at 1,315 people

The Interior Ministry on Pikk Street in Central Tallinn.
The Interior Ministry on Pikk Street in Central Tallinn. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The Ministry of the Interior has proposed leaving 2019's immigration quota unchanged from 2018, at 1,315 people.

The quota applies to those immigrating to Estonia from states not amongst: EU Member States, the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, the US and Japan, and is dependent on the current Estonian population, set at a maximum of 0.1% of that figure.

Residence permits for employment and business activities can be issued to those falling within the quota, but excluding those who arrive in Estonia under the European migrant distribution plan, spouses of Estonian citizens or those who have received a residence permit on that basis, as well as various relatives of Estonian citizens and those issued a residence permit on that basis.

No language requirement for quota

Further exemptees include persons issued a residence permit in order to engage in large scale investment and/or startup activity or employment, as well as university academics.

Since July, exemptions have been made also for those employed in key top specialist roles, usually in IT; a bill had been proposed for passing the Estonian language exam at Common European Framework (CEF) A2 level in order to qualify for the exemption, but the migrant quota itself has no such pre-requisite.

The current required language minimum level for citizenship is B1; the CEF progresses from A1, through to A2, B1-2 and C1-2 as the highest degree of proficiency.

The quota limit rose from 0.75% of the Estonian population in 2012-2014, to 0.1%. The actual number has remained largely constant, being 1,317 in 2017.

The status in Estonia of UK citizens following Brexit are not clear yet and are likely to be finalised once the nature of that country's withdrawal from the EU has been resolved, probably after March 2019.

Recent controversy surrounding the UN Global Compact on Migration also has no bearing on the quota figure.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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