This material highlights key information on the most common types of migration, addressing the main legal bases for third country nationals to arrive and stay in Estonia and outlining the authorities you can contact for further information and support, including in the area of integration. This material also outlines what to do or what might happen, if an alien is unable or unwilling to stay in Estonia. In case of any questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact authorities in order to find quick solutions.
This material was developed by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) Office in Estonia and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board in the framework of project “Improving cooperation with third countries on the return of persons,” which is co-financed by the European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Estonia.
Arrival in Estonia
A third-country national may enter and stay in Estonia on the following grounds:
- Visa-free stay of up to 90 days for nationals of certain countries
- On the basis of a visa issued by competent authorities, including a tourist visa; C visa and a long-stay visa (D visa, up to 12 months).
- Individuals can apply for a temporary residence permit at an Estonian representation or in Estonia on the following grounds:
- Family reasons/family migration
- On the basis of a long-term residence permit. This requires 5 years of residence in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit and the necessary criteria are extended to the applying process.
- Further information https://www.politsei.ee/en or https://www.politsei.ee/ru +372 612 300 and/or migration advisors (information in English/Estonian and Russian): Tel. +372 6123500/ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Skype: EstonianPolice_MigrationAdvice / Web: migrationadvice.ee
- In the case of illegal entry/stay, the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) may impose an obligation to leave Estonia on the alien by assigning a term for voluntary compliance with the obligation to leave by the precept to leave. Under the conditions laid down by law, the term for voluntary compliance with the obligation to leave may not be assigned and enforcement of the precept to leave may be carried out immediately by the expulsion of the alien (see clause 6).
Working in Estonia
Aliens who are temporarily staying in Estonia (e.g. visa or visa-free) may work in Estonia on a short-term basis (up to 365 days within 455 days) if their employer has registered the employment at the Police and Border Guard Board. The employee can verify this at the Police and Border Guard Board.
NB! Unregistered employment is illegal and punishable. You can find more information here
- Employment on the basis of a residence permit – immigration quota and salary criterion are applied. Compliance with the latter is the employer’s responsibility. In the case of a change of employer, the person must apply for a new residence permit in advance from the Police and Border Guard Board. You can find more information here
- Free legal advice on employment contracts and other advice, including how to avoid labour exploitation, can be obtained from the Social Insurance Board’s Victim Support hotline at +372 660 7320.
- State supervision of health and safety at work, and labour relations is performed by Labour Inspectorate. In addition, labour disputes can be also resolved by the Labour Inspectorate. More information: ti.ee tel. 640 600 (Mon-Fri 9:00-16:30, in English, Estonian and Russian)
- Information on working life and labour relations (everything from employment contracts to occupational health) is also available at tooelu.ee
- If an individual wishes to change their job, it is possible, in some cases, to use the services of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance Fund Unemployment Insurance FundUnemployment Insurance Fund. tootukassa.ee
- Income received in Estonia must be declared annually to the Tax and Customs Board (MTA). The Tax and Customs Board also monitors the tax behaviour of companies, which is why the latter usually have to register their employees. https://www.emta.ee/et/eraklient
- If the social tax payable on earnings is received in Estonia, the individual is entitled to health insurance organized by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. https://www.haigekassa.ee/
- Illegal employment is punishable and the Police and Border Guard Board may require an alien to leave Estonia.
Studying in Estonia
- A long-term visa/a residence permit for studying can be applied for at an Estonian foreign representation or at a service office of the Police and Border Guard Board (if the person is already in Estonia) only for studying in institutions recognised by the Republic of Estonia. A temporary residence permit for studying is issued for the duration of the curriculum, but for no more than 5 years. After the expiry of the residence permit for studying, it is possible to stay in Estonia for up to 270 days in order to find a legal basis for extending the residence permit or applying for a new residence permit. You can find more information here
- A residence permit for studying permits the holder to work, provided that such employment does not interfere with the studies. The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund can assist in finding a job.
- A decision of the university to allow a foreign student to study part-time, to exmatriculate the student from the institution, or to exclude them from the institution’s list, ceases the legal basis of the residence permit for studying. If no other grounds arise, the alien is obliged to leave Estonia.
Residence permit for settling with a family
- You may apply for a residence permit to settle with a spouse who is an Estonian citizen or national living in Estonia, or with a spouse or close relative who is an alien living in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit. You can find more information here
- The residence permit for family member/family members who wish to settle in Estonia is linked to the family member already residing in Estonia.
- A family member has the right to work in Estonia with regard to related laws.
- If the basis or grounds for the issue of a residence permit has ceased to exist or the marriage has been terminated or the residence permit of the spouse one was supposed to settle with expires or is terminated, the residence permit for a family member is also terminated/expires. The alien is obliged to leave Estonia if he or she has no other basis for residence.
Supporting adaptation in Estonia
- 1-day Welcoming programme modules and language training are free of charge for the participants. The programme is open to all foreigners who have resided in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit for less than 5 years. https://www.settleinestonia.ee/
- International House of Estonia (advice and information on different aspects of life for international newcomers in Estonia). https://workinestonia.com/internationalhouse/
- Integration Foundation (counselling, information on integration, culture and language, including Estonian language houses). More information on https://www.integratsioon.ee/saabujale
- In case a person wishes to register a place of residence or use other residence-based services, they can contact the local government. In some cases it is also possible to use e-services via eesti.ee (in English, Estonian and Russian)
Departure from Estonia/stay in Estonia without a legal basis regarding third-country nationals
The Police and Border Guard Board shall issue a precept to leave to an alien who is staying in Estonia without a legal basis for stay. The term from 7 to 30 days shall be assigned for voluntary compliance with the obligation to leave by the precept to leave. If necessary, the person may be subjected to a prohibition on entry, which may extend to the whole of the Schengen area. A person can leave independently by purchasing the required ticket or by using need-based support if they do not have the means to do so.
- If a person wishes to receive support for voluntary departure, they can request it from the IOM. The support includes return counselling, application for a travel document (if necessary), travel planning and reintegration support in the country of origin. More information on http://www.iom.ee/varre / Tel. +372 611 6088/+372 5623 3083 / E-mail: email@example.com. If necessary, the IOM may, at the request of an alien, contact the embassy to apply for a temporary travel document for the person to return to his or her country of origin.
- The term for voluntary compliance with the obligation to leave may not be assigned and the enforcement of the precept to leave may be carried out immediately. If necessary, the person may be subjected to a prohibition on entry, which may extend to the whole of the Schengen area. By the precept to leave, a warning is made with regard to the alien about application of the enforcement penalty in case of a failure to comply with the precept to leave. The amount of the penalty payment required shall be indicated in the warning. Expulsion is the responsibility of the Police and Border Guard Board, who may contact the embassy for documentation purposes if the person does not have the necessary travel documents.
- If immediate expulsion is not possible, an alien may be detained for up to 48 hours without the authorisation of the administrative court in order to identify and document him or her and to prevent the risk of escape or a threat to public order. Further detention requires a court authorisation with which an alien may be detained in a detention centre for up to 2 months at a time. The maximum detention period is 18 months. In the course of proceedings relating to expulsion, the alien has the right to contact the embassy. The embassy shall choose the means of communication, e.g. a telephone call, a meeting in a detention centre, etc.
- Estonia has bilateral readmission agreements with certain countries and in case of some other countries, the agreements concluded by the European Union are applied.