On 3 December, the Government of the Republic approved 1,315 as the immigration quota for 2021 and similarly to the previous year, the Minister of the Interior signed a regulation which distributes the 2021 immigration quota by the reason for applying for a residence permit and the grounds for granting a residence permit.
A pre-defined part of the quota is allocated for creative workers and athletes as well as foreigners who settle in Estonia under an international agreement. The remaining part of the quota is available for free distribution. “The purpose of the immigration quota is primarily to protect the Estonian labour market. By distributing the immigration quota in turn by the reason for applying for a residence permit and the grounds for granting a residence permit, we can ensure that the quota is not distributed entirely randomly and only a certain part of the quota is left for free distribution. The aim of the distribution is to allocate a certain number of residence permits within the quota for professional activity in areas important for Estonia,” Minister of the Interior Alar Laneman explained.
All the ministries can submit proposals for important areas. With regard to the 2021 distribution, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made their proposals. As a result of the distribution, 25 temporary residence permits can be granted next year for employment as a creative employee at a performing arts institution in the meaning of the Performing Arts Institutions Act, 24 temporary residence permits for employment as an athlete, coach, referee or sports employee on the basis of an invitation of a sports association, and 5 temporary residence permits on the basis of an international agreement. The remaining part of the 2021 immigration quota or 1,261 temporary residence permits are available for free distribution.
The immigration quota mainly regulates employment and business migration from third countries to Estonia. The immigration quota includes temporary residence permits granted for employment and enterprise and on the basis of an international agreement. High added-value employment migration to Estonia has been simplified with amendments to the Aliens Act. The immigration quota does not include information and communication technology employees as well as foreigners employed at a start-up company or engaged in start-up business. Neither does the quota include family and education migration, employment as teaching staff, acting as a large investor and employment as a top specialist to whom the employer pays at least twice the average Estonian salary. The quota also does not include European Union citizens and their family members, the citizens of the United States of America and Japan, and applicants for international protection.