New laws: Estonia makes it even easier for international students to work!

13. September 2018

Estonia introduces new legislation that facilitates to foreigners studying in Estonia or having received higher education in Estonia entering into the labour market.

Estonia provides comprehensive support in integrating to Estonian labour market to foreigners who are studying here or have obtained a higher education here. This mainly because the foreigners who have studied here have already adapted to life in Estonia, they have good potential and they could realise their talent in Estonia. Here are some of the main changes done:

Exemption from the quota

Estonia has established an immigration quota which limits the number of foreign workers coming to Estonia. However, there are several exempt groups of people who are not included in the quota – among others, foreigners who have come to study in Estonia and wish to stay here to work.

Exemption from the salary criterion and the Unemployment Insurance Fund permit

For foreigners whose immigration is favoured (e.g. researchers, foreigners working in start-ups, etc.), an exemption has been made to the salary criterion and the requirement to obtain a permit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. In order to facilitate the staying of foreigners who have graduated a school here, an exemption has been made to the salary criterion and the Unemployment Insurance Fund permit requirement for foreigners who:

  • have obtained a level four or five vocational education in Estonia in vocational studies or
  • have obtained a higher education in professional higher education studies or studies based on integrated study programmes of bachelor’s and master’s studies or in master’s studies or doctoral studies.

Opportunity to stay in Estonia after the expiry of the validity of a residence permit

In general, foreigners are allowed to stay in Estonia for another 90 days after the expiry of the validity of their residence permit, in order to apply for a new residence permit, if necessary. According to the specification, foreigners who have obtained a residence permit for studying may stay in Estonia for up to 270 days after the expiry of the validity of their residence permit.

Welcoming Programme

When a foreign student has obtained a right of residence or a residence permit, he or she can participate in the Welcoming Programme. It is a free of charge training programme which helps newly arrived foreigners to adapt to life here and find answers to practical questions. Registration for courses and further information about the Programme is available at

Migration advisors

Companies recruiting foreign labour and foreigners planning to settle in Estonia or already living here need personal and reliable legal advice. Therefore, the Police and Border Guard Board, with support from the European Social Fund, offer migration-related advice in Estonian, Russian and English. The service is free of charge. E-mail: [email protected].

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