Changes in the Aliens Act of Estonia in 2015 regarding temporary stay, residence and employment
As of 1st of April the Aliens Act that regulates the bases for the entry of foreigners into Estonia, their temporary stay, residence and employment, undertook some changes. The purpose of these changes is to provide advantageous and more flexible conditions for entering and settling for those foreigners who contribute to the development of Estonian society. The changes include simplifying the procedures of entry and settling. The new regulation also change the rights and obligations for those employers who employ foreigners. The changes will be enforced partly on the dates of 1st of April, 1st of August 2015 and finally 1st of January 2016.
Changes concerning employers to foreigners:
Employment in a Government designated field
With the changes in the Act the employers can employ foreigners with without the permit from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund when the job would be in the field that requires increase in the workforce and that would benefit Estonian economy, science, education and culture. However, the employment permit would be valid for 2 years because that is the time needed for the Government to assess the areas that are low in local workforce. The Government thus re-evaluates from time to what are these areas in which the foreigners can be employed under special circumstances.
The new regulation sets rules to evaluate the trustworthiness of the employer and adds the ground of rejection for the temporary residence permit. The grounds include amongst other insufficient salary for the living employee, tax arrears of the employer, there is evidence to question the trustworthiness of the employer.
Obligation to check legal grounds
The changes in the Aliens Act oblige all employers to check if the foreigner has legal grounds to be working in Estonia. The regulation so far applied to the inviting employer but now extends also to the secondary employer. On the other side, the changes allow the employer to process the personal data related to the foreigner, except for sensitive personal data.
No need for a double residence permit
Convenient for an employer is also the change that enables hiring a foreigner with a temporary residence permit who is already working under a working permit to hire this person without a consent from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, which formerly was required.
Reduced amount of notifications
The notification obligation of employers will be reduced to the point of not requiring double notifications. Thus, the data the employer needs to provide to the Employment Register is not needed to be provided to the Police and Boarder Guard Board.
Beneficial terms for a subsidiary
According to the regulation before 1st of January 2016 it is required that the employer who provides work to a foreigner on temporary residence permit has to be registered in Estonian 12 months before. According to the new regulation that is no longer needed if the employer actually is a subsidiary to a foreign company that has existed the necessary 12 months.
Changes regarding foreign employees:
Working in a Government designated field
The changes in the act enable a foreigner with skills in the Government specified low workforce field to apply for a job in Estonia. When a foreigner is being employed specified field, the foreigner has the right to receive as a minimum salary the average gross wages equal to the latest average gross wage in that field that is published by the Statistical Office. However, it is important to bear in mind that the temporary residence permit for employment is not bound to the person but with the employer and the workplace. Thus, should the grounds for the employment change, the foreigner should apply for a new permit.
Temporary residence permit
The amendments in the Aliens Act adds an additional temporary residence permit with the purpose of settling into Estonia. The purpose of the additional permit is to allow the foreigners to live in Estonia, who have already had a residence permit within the last 5 years, regardless of if the person has lived in Estonia or has moved to another country. In order to receive that permit the person has to meet the following criteria:
- Must have lived in Estonia continuously at least 3 years out of the last 5 years;
- Must be integrated into the society; and,
- Must have been working, studying or the like in the field that was used as ground for obtaining the permit.
Simplified conditions for a foreign residents spouse
The current regulation states that a temporary residence permit may be issued to a foreigner to settle with his or her spouse who resides in Estonia permanently and who is an Estonian citizen or to settle with his or her spouse who is a foreigner who has resided in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit for at least two years. The new regulations enables the spouse of an Estonian nationality foreigner to apply for a residence permit, which previously was not allowed.
The new regulations allow the spouse who has been married to a person living in Estonia under temporary residence permit more than 3 years to apply for extension of living permit maximum 3 years at a time. If the spouse has already lived in Estonia for 5 years, the maximum extension time is 5 years at once. This regulation did not exist before. However, the validity period of the living permit for the spouse cannot exceed the living permit of the person already living in Estonia.
Temporary stay after expiry date of permit
The new regulations also enables the foreigner to stay in Estonia temporarily for 90 days after the residence permit has expired. The additional time is meant to be used for the foreigner to find new grounds for another residence permit. It is important to note that the temporary stay applies only inside Estonia, it cannot be used as grounds for staying in another country.
Receiving of documents by another person or via post
Procedurally very convenient change for a foreigner applying for residence permit enables as of 1st of January to appoint another person as a receiver of the document or to receive the document by mail on the condition that it is safe. It is thus not necessary for the foreigner to go to the issuing authority twice.