ESTONIA – Amendments to Immigration Law Exempt Top Specialists from Quota
Effective 15 July 2018, amendments have been made to the Aliens Act aimed at encouraging highly-skilled foreign specialists and combatting the illegal employment of foreign nationals.
What are the changes?
Among the key changes to the immigration rules are the following:
Top specialists are now exempt from the annual immigration quota. Top specialists holding a temporary residence permit issued since 1 January 2018 will not be counted towards the 2018 quota. Top specialists were already exempt from the requirement to obtain the consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, which test the labour market. A top specialist must have appropriate professional training or experience and be employed by a qualifying company and paid at least twice the national gross average wage. Short-term employment, registered with the Police and Border Guard, can now be carried out without a work permit for up to 12 months (365 days during a 455-day period) rather than 9 months as previously. Longer periods may be allowed for employment as a teacher or a lecturer, for research work, for employment as a top specialist or at a start-up company. Accredited journalists can work for up to 270 days in a year without a work permit and without registering short-term employment.
For applicants who have been resident in Estonia for five years, renewal or initial applications for a temporary residence permit for employment will now require Estonian language proficiency of at least level A2. This new requirement does not apply to applications for EU Blue Cards, intra-company transfer permits, or for employment as a researcher or lecturer. It also does not apply to those whose temporary residence permit was issued before 15 July 2018.
The maximum fine applicable to employers who do not comply with the rules for the employment of foreign nationals, has increased sharply to EUR 32,000.
Employers who may be affected by these changes should consult an immigration specialist for case-specific advice.