Riigikogu passed the amendment to the Aliens Act allowing foreign workers staying legally in Estonia as of 17 March 2020 to extend their short-term work permit to continue working in agriculture until 31 July 2020.
Pursuant to the decision passed by Riigikogu today, foreign workers who were legally staying in Estonia as of 17 March and whose short-term work permit has recently expired or will expire soon are allowed to continue working in the agricultural sector.
“The decision was made in order to ensure the continuous functioning of agriculture which is clearly a highly important sector for the Estonian society. The given amendment will allow foreign workers to continue working in Estonia until 31 July 2020 in case the employer working in the agricultural sector wishes to hire them and will register their short-term employment at the Police and Border Guard Board,” the Minister of Interior Mart Helme said.’
“This will provide us with a reasonable transition period to switch from foreign labour to workforce of Estonian residents. At a time when our own people are increasingly losing their jobs, we need to support Estonian residents. I’m sure there are plenty of people among our tens of thousands of unemployed people who are able and willing to contribute to some of the sectors currently lacking sufficient workforce,” the Minister added. After 31 July, foreign workers have until 31 August to arrange their outbound travel from Estonia.
Those foreigners working in Estonia pursuant to short-term employment rules and whose work permit will expire with no work in the agricultural sector will have no right to work in Estonia. In such cases, foreigners must leave Estonia at the earliest possibility. In case it is not currently enabled by the border crossing regulations, they will have the right to stay in Estonia and leave within 10 days after the end of the emergency situation. People are advised to contact their embassy to learn about possibilities to leave Estonia and return to their home country. Also, the employers are requested to help their foreign employees to return to their home country after the end of the employment relationship.
The Aliens Act allows citizens of third countries staying in Estonia on legal basis to work here either as a seasonal worker for up to 9 months within a period of 12 months, under general conditions up to 12 months within a period of 15 months. The condition for it is that the employer wishes to hire the foreign citizen and registers their short-term employment at the Police and Border Guard Board. Pursuant to the current rules and due to the entry restrictions, the Police and Border Guard Board at present processes only those short-term employment applications that are submitted by the employers of foreigners currently staying in Estonia. Presently, the Police and Border Guard Board does not proceed the short-term employment applications of foreigners currently staying abroad, as due to the emergency situation they will not be allowed in the country even with a valid visa or visa-free right of stay.
A summary of the rules applying to foreign workers staying currently in Estonia:
The foreign workers currently staying in Estonia whose short-term employment period (9 months within a period of 12 months or 12 months within a period of 15 months) has expired or will soon expire are allowed to stay in Estonia under the following conditions:
- An employer working in the agricultural sector submits an application to the Police and Border Guard Board to employ the foreign worker legally staying in Estonia until 31 July 2020;
- Following 31 July 2020, the foreign worker has until 31 August 2020 to arrange their outbound travel from Estonia.
- Foreign nationals (citizens of third countries) can work in Estonia either as a seasonal worker for up to 9 months within a period of 12 months, under general conditions up to 12 months within a period of 15 months.
- For the short-term employment of foreign workers currently staying in Estonia, employers can submit applications to the Police and Border Guard Board for work in any sector only in case of foreign workers whose maximum short-term employment time has not yet expired.
- In case the maximum short-term employment time has expired, it cannot be extended.
- Foreign workers currently staying abroad cannot come to Estonia due to the temporary travel restrictions.
- Foreign workers whose maximum short-term employment time has expired or is about to expire and who will not continue to work in the agricultural sector must leave Estonia at the earliest possibility after the end of their employment.
- Foreigners whose maximum short-term employment time has expired but are unable to leave Estonia due to the border crossing restrictions, are allowed to stay (but not to work) in Estonia during the emergency situation and must leave within 10 days after the end of the emergency situation.
- The amendments do not affect foreigners who have temporary residence permits or temporary right of residence.