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The Aliens Act

There are two major legislative acts that regulate immigration in Estonia: the Citizen of the European Union Act and the  Alien Act.

There are two major legislative acts that regulate immigration in Estonia: the Citizen of the European Union Act and the Aliens Act.

Several important amendments have entered into force in the Estonian Aliens Act during the past two years. As a result, recruiting from abroad is now much easier:

– as an employer you can now fill one or several workplaces with foreign employees (where employees with respective skills and qualifications cannot be found in Estonia).

– as an employer, you can now also hire foreign employees through recruitment agencies as a temporary workforce.

– the approval of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (EUIF) to apply for a residence permit for working in Estonia is no longer personalised.

– for startup companies a special startup visa programme has been set up to make it easier to hire foreign talents. For more information, please see Startup Estonia’s website.

For the foreign employees, starting work in Estonia has also been simplified:

– process of applying for the residence permit has become easier: a new and shorter form of the application has been introduced

– the employees staying in Estonia on the basis of the residency permit for employment can now work with several employers at the same time

– a 90-day transitional period is provided after the expiration of an existing residence permit. During the 90-day period, the foreign talent may stay in Estonia and apply for a new residence permit.

Take note: the employer determined in the residency permit still has to fulfil the required criteria (e.g. salary criterion) determined in the permit. All employers still have the obligation to register the employee in the employment register with the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.

 

 

The consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund

The consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund is not needed for a temporary residence permit in case:

  • You are a minister of religion, nun or monk, who is invited to Estonia by a religious association and this invitation has been approved by of the Ministry of the Interior;
  • a journalist accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • person whose right to take employment in Estonia without a specific permit arises from a treaty
  • a person who works in a performing arts institution, engaged in creative activities in accordance with  the Performing Arts Institutions Act;
  • a teacher or lecturer in an educational institution which complies with requirements established by Estonian legislation;
  • a researcher who has the appropriate professional training or experience and with whom the research and development institution has signed a hosting agreement, or employment as a lecturer in Estonia in an educational institution which complies with requirements established by the legislation;
  • a sportsman, coach, referee or sports official for professional activities on the basis of a summons from a respective sports federation;
  • for a person employed for the purposes of performing directorial or supervisory functions on behalf of a legal person as governed by public law registered in Estonia;
  • a person who has been issued a long-term resident’s residence permit by another member state of the European Union;
  • a person is a posted worker for the purposes of the Working Conditions of Workers Posted in Estonia Act;
  • a person who has acquired  a higher education in Estonia in professional higher education or Bachelor’s studies, in the studies based on integrated curricula of Bachelor’s and Master’s studies, in Master’s or Doctoral studies;
  • for employment as an expert, adviser or consultant provided that an alien has appropriate professional preparation for such activities;
  • for employment as a top specialist provided that an alien has appropriate professional preparation for such activities;
  • for employment in the field in which it is necessary to reduce the shortage of labour in Estonia and employ in Estonia aliens with the necessary knowledge and skills in order to facilitate the development of the Estonian economy, science, education or culture.

Consent is granted on the condition that the position cannot be filled by employing an Estonian or European Union citizen or a foreigner residing in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit who meets the qualifications and professional skills requirements for such position.

Wage minimum

In order to hire a non-EU citizen, the employer has to pay the foreign worker at least the Estonian average monthly gross wage multiplied by a coefficient of 1.24 which is € 1246 until June 2016.

You don’t have to pay the minimum of the Estonian average monthly gross wage multiplied by the above coefficient when the foreigner you hire is:

  • a minister of religion, nun or monk, who is invited to Estonia by a religious association and this invitation has been approved by of the Ministry of the Interior
  • a journalist accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • a person whose right to take employment in Estonia without a specific permit arises from a treaty
  • a person who works in a performing arts institution, engaged in creative activities in accordance with the Performing Arts Institutions Act
  • a teacher or lecturer in an educational institution which complies with requirements established by  Estonian legislation
  • a researcher who has the appropriate professional training or experience and with whom the research and development institution has signed a hosting agreement
  • a sportsman, coach, referee or sports official for professional activities on the basis of a summons from a respective sports federation
  • for employment for the purposes of performing directorial or supervisory functions on behalf of a legal person governed by public law registered in Estonia
  • a person who has been issued a long-term resident’s residence permit by another member state of the European Union
  • a person who has acquired a higher education in Estonia through a Bachelor or Master’s degree program or Doctoral studies

The permission of the Unemployment Insurance Fund is also not needed if you wish to employ a highly skilled specialist who has professional qualifications in their field and that can be proven. Although in contrast to hiring an ordinary employee there are some additional requirements of which you must meet at least one: 

  • The amount of the remuneration paid to the employee must be at least equal to or higher than the annual average gross monthly salary multiplied by a coefficient of 2 
  • Your company must have been registered in Estonia for at least 12 months 
  • Your company must have at least 65,000 euros in capital invested in business activities in Estonia; the company’s sales revenue must equal at least 200,000 euros per year OR in the case of remuneration, the amount of five times the annual average gross monthly salary in Estonia. The monthly social tax your company pays per employee must be at least  equivalent to the monthly social tax paid per employee in Estonia. 

On students: foreign students can now work without a permit and stay in Estonia for 183 days after they have finished their studies, to try to find a job.

Latest amendments

Have a look at the amendments that came into force from January 2017:

  • For startup companies a special startup visa programme has been set up to make it easier to hire foreign talents. For more information, please see Startup Estonia’s website. This programme can also be useful for foreign founders planning to enter Estonia to found a company here.
  • An alien may apply for a residence permit for business, if such alien owns shares in a company or acts as a sole proprietor, and:
    • the alien has invested in Estonia a capital sum of at least 65 000 euros under his/her control in the case of a company;
    • the alien has invested in Estonia a capital sum of at least 16 000 euros under his/her control in the case of a sole proprietor.