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Restrictions concerning foreign workers to remain in force also after emergency situation ends

20. May 2020 - 9:14

Pursuant to the Government’s decision the restrictions concerning foreign workers will remain in force also after the end of the emergency situation on 17 May. Third country nationals who are currently staying abroad cannot enter Estonia yet. The aim of keeping the restrictions in force is to reduce the possibilities of the virus spreading.

With regard to foreign workers, an amendment to the Aliens Act entered into force on 7 May, pursuant to which employers who operate in the agricultural sector can until 31 July employ foreign workers whose period of short-term employment has expired or is about to expire and who were in Estonia as at 17 March when the cross-border mobility restrictions were established. At the moment, third country nationals who are staying abroad and wish to come to Estonia to work, cannot yet come here.

“The corona virus has not disappeared from the world and caution is necessary in the current situation. In order to reduce the possibilities of a new wave of infections in Estonia, we have considered it reasonable to keep the restrictions concerning the mobility of foreign workers in force. The restrictions will be alleviated or made more stringent depending on the actual situation and the scientists’ assessment of the spread of the virus,” said Minister of the Interior Mart Helme. The Minister of the Interior added that supporting the residents of Estonia is of utmost importance. “We have many unemployed people in Estonia and the number will probably grow even more in the near future. In such complicated times, it is the state’s duty to support Estonian residents and create opportunities for them to fill vacant jobs. The allegations that Estonian work force is not qualified enough are not true. Estonia has a well-developed vocational study system and the Government comprehensively support the re-training of workers, in order to help people to adapt to the needs of the labour market,” Mart Helme specified.

Foreigners, who are legally staying in Estonia and whose period of short-term employment is about to expire or has expired, can work in Estonia until 31 July of this year provided that an employer engaged in agriculture wishes to employ them. In order to employ foreign workers, an employer must register them at the Police and Border Guard Board as per ordinary procedure.  After 31 July, foreign workers will have until 31 August to organise their departure from Estonia.

Foreigners, who are legally staying in Estonia and have a right of stay and employment on general terms for longer than 31 July or hold a valid residence permit, can continue working in Estonia past the said date. Foreigners, who are employed under the short-term employment rules and whose term of employment has expired or is about to expire and who do not work in agriculture, will not have an option to continue working in Estonia. In such cases, foreigners have to leave Estonia at the first opportunity.


A brief summary of the rules currently applicable to foreign workers in Estonia:
• Foreign workers currently staying in Estonia, whose period of short-term employment (9 months within a period of 12 months or 12 months within a period of 15 months) has expired or is about to expire, may work in Estonia on the following terms and conditions:
o foreign nationals currently staying in Estonia on a legal basis and arrived in Estonia before 17 March 2020.
o foreign nationals who have used up the maximum allowed term of employment (365 or 270 days, depending on the type of employment) or the permit expires before 31 July 2020.
o the foreigner’s short-term employment has been registered at the Police and Border Guard Board.
o The employer’s main area of activity is in the agricultural sector (crop and livestock farming, hunting and the servicing areas of activity).

• After July 31 of this year, foreign workers who have been working in agriculture and whose period of short-term employment has expired will have until 31 August 2020 to organise their departure from Estonia.

• Foreigners, who are employed under the short-term employment rules and whose term of employment has expired or is about to expire and who do not work in agriculture, will not have an option to continue working in Estonia. In such cases, foreigners have to leave Estonia at the first opportunity.

• Foreigners, who are legally staying in Estonia and have a right of stay and employment on general terms for longer than 31 July or hold a valid residence permit, can continue working in Estonia past the said date.

• At the moment, third country nationals who are staying abroad and wish to come to Estonia to work, cannot yet come here.

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Foreign employees allowed to continue short-term employment in agriculture

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09.04.2020|Ministry of the Interior

Upon the expiry of work permit, migrant workers can continue working in Estonia in the agricultural sector until 31 July

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