The Estonian Employers' Confederation and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry recommend that foreign nationals working for a reliable employer in Estonia be excluded from the immigration quota.
Possible criteria for establishing employer reliability could be that the business has to have been operating for at least one financial year and it cannot have any tax debts or punishments imposed on it for offences committed during its period of activity. The business must also have submitted its annual financial reports on time and its revenue and number of employees must comply with reasonable minimum requirements.
"Similar regulation are in place in Lithuania, for example, where no quotas have been imposed on residence permits and where the processing thereof is expedited by differentiation of employers," head of the Employers' Confederation, Arto Aas said.
He continued: "The amendments to the Aliens Act presently being planned by the Ministry of the Interior, however, are moving in the entirely opposite direction. They will not help mitigate the labor shortage hindering Estonia's economic growth; instead, they will aggravate existing problems."
The Employers' Confederation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, sent a joint memo to the Ministry of the Interior on Monday to express their disapproval of the planned amendments.
The bill seeks to establish an immigration quota of 1314 for 2020, whereas the number of employees for whom businesses can seek for a residence permit to be granted without the minister's letter of recommendation is just 647. Businesses in sectors where labor shortage is severe, such as construction and service, would not be able to apply for a residence permit to be granted to their foreign employees.
Pursuant to the bill, the immigration quota set for 2020 would be divided between various types of residence permits. 647 permits would be issued to foreign nationals for employment, 650 in case of substantial public interest, 13 for enterprise and four on the basis of a treaty.
Permits issued for employment would be reduced by more than twofold from 1,311 this year to 647 in 2020.
The largest number of residence permits would be issued in case of substantial public interest, which in addition to fulfilling all the basic requirements also require a minister's letter of recommendation and the consent of the Ministry of the Interior.
According to the Employers' Confederation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, such distribution would increase the risk of corruption and unequal treatment. For the past four years, no residence permits have been issued in case of substantial public interest.
The quota would limit 16 sectors' options for using migrant labor. The bill stipulates that residence permits for employment would only be excluded from the quota in five sectors, whereas 311 permits for employment would be issued in the processing industry, 195 in information and communication, 89 in transportation and storage, 39 in education, and 13 in healthcare.
Editor: Helen Wright