TALLINN - The Interior Ministry announced this week that the laws governing work permits for non-EU nationals are to be reformed. At present, an employer has to advertise a vacancy six months in advance for the Interior Ministry to allow someone from outside the EU to take the position. This is to be reduced to two months.
At the same time the overall quota of guest workers in Estonia is to be increased from 0.05 to 0.1 percent of the Estonian population. This means that instead of the current quota of 670 new guest workers per year, in the future about 1,340 work immigrants will be allowed to enter Estonia.
According to Interior Minister Karro, the process of getting the work visa for a candidate from outside the EU will be significantly accelerated.
Under the old rules, the government had authority to increase the quota without clearly stating the reason. But the new amendment abolishes this opportunity. According to the Interior Ministry, in reality the quota has had no effect on immigration to the country.
Estonia is still not a popular destination with migrant workers who prefer to go to richer countries like Sweden and Finland which have large established immigrant communities already.
The 0.05 percent ceiling was reached for the first time in 2007, while in 2005 and 2006 only 60 and 87 percent of the quota was used, respectively. The new rules also set out a very high minimum salary for guest workers. An employer in Estonia must pay them at least 120 percent of average wages paid to citizens of Estonia before taxes. Thus the threshold for 2008 is 13,962 kroons, which is very high for guest workers from such countries as Ukraine or Belarus.