Estonia to establish new database to improve migration surveillance

  • 2023-01-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – A draft regulation has exited the Estonian Ministry of the Interior that would establish a database called MIGIS, or Migration Surveillance Database, under the administration of the Police and Border Guard Board, which should make migration surveillance more efficient than has been the case to date.

Growing migration volumes inevitably place a greater burden on migration surveillance. At present, under conditions of limited manpower, the Police and Border Guard Board monitors foreigners using Excel spreadsheets, which means that there is no up-to-date and real overview of whether foreigners meet the conditions set for them by law, the explanatory memorandum to the draft says.

For example, registration of short-term employment has grown exponentially in recent years, the ministry said. If in 2017, short-term employment was registered on 7,507 occasions, in 2021 cases numbered already 32,894, representing a more than fourfold increase. In 2022, registrations numbered 24,406.

In 2020, registration of short-term employment was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting obstacles to cross-border movement. In 2022, the military conflict in Ukraine and the international sanctions imposed on citizens of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus had an impact.

In recent years, there has also been a marked upward trend in the issuance of long-term visas. Where in 2017 a total of 7,283 long-term visas were issued, in 2021 their number more than tripled to 25,941, falling to 15,824 in 2022. Long-term visas are mainly used by foreigners who come to Estonia for short stays to work, study or visit relatives and friends.

According to the ministry, the introduction of MIGIS would help to ensure more efficient supervision in a context of limited manpower and resources, and to replace the time spent on manual checks and data entry with automated queries. By using MIGIS, the quality of the data will be improved and the correct data will be found in a single database.