Immigration quota solutions do not satisfy the needs of entrepreneurs
By now, the Ministry of the Interior has developed the draft amendment act, which, among other things, will exclude top specialists from the immigration quota, and extends the permitted time of short-term employment in Estonia. Although the Chamber supports the changes, it is still not enough to satisfy the expectations or needs of entrepreneurs.
Tom specialists exempt from the quota
One of the most important changes is that top specialists or aliens from third countries who have professional training in the respective area of activity and who are paid at least double the average salary of Estonia for their employment in Estonia. The Chamber also considers positive the amendment that aims at extending the period of short-term employment from the current 270 days to one year from 1 July.
Although the abovementioned changes help alleviating the problem related to filling the immigration quota, the Chamber finds that these amendments do not help fulfilling the main aim of the draft act, i.e. the situation where the current regulation of the quota becomes a hindrance to bringing labour force from outside the European Union. In the Chamber’s opinion, the immigration quota will be fulfilled already before the summer even if the draft enters into force in its current form.
Foreign employees of a reliable employer could be excluded from the quota
The amendments to the draft were approved by the government by the proposal of the special working group. However, the government did not approve the proposals of the working group that in the opinion of the Chamber would help to prevent the situation where the immigration quota is fulfilled in the middle of the year. Firstly, the Chamber continues to support the proposal exempting from the immigration quota the aliens who are working in Estonia for a short period of time (up to 2 years) based on residence permit (such residence permit is not extendable and it cannot be applied for outside the limits of the quota for the next 1.5 years). Secondly, the Chamber supports the proposal with which the aliens who are paid at least 1.5 times the Estonian average gross monthly salary are excluded from the quota.
In the Chamber’s opinion, the most positive impact on the problem with the quota would be the amendment of the act that would exempt from the quota the aliens who are employed with a reliable employer. A reliable employer is an employer that meets the following criteria:
- the employer has worked for a certain period (e.g. at least three years),
- there are no tax arrears,
- the annual reports have been submitted in due time,
- the employer pays labour taxes on average salary of its principal area of activity per employee (in the company as a whole). For foreign employees, the current salary requirement would be valid,
- additionally, adding the criterion of turnover of a certain reference period or number of registered employees, which shows that the company has been active.
Language requirement for extending the temporary residence permit for working
With this draft, the government wants to establish for the aliens the requirement to have A2 level Estonian skills if they want to extend or apply for new temporary residence permit for working (if the alien has lived in Estonia before based on the temporary residence permit for work for at least 5 years). According to the explanatory note, 1,300 persons registered for the Estonian A2 level exam last year and according to estimations, the draft will increase this number by 2,200 persons. The Chamber asked the ministry for feedback, if there are sufficient language learning opportunities for aliens in Estonia so that 3,500 aliens could simultaneously acquire Estonian language at A2 level in one year. In the Chamber’s opinion, if the language learning opportunities are not sufficient, entry into force of this requirement should certainly be postponed.
Read the Chamber’s official opinion here (in Estonian).