REKRY-AMARE: Promoting Work-related Immigration and Spreading Good
Practices in the EU
Adaptation into the Estonian society
immigrants with higher education and
Promoting Work-related Immigration and Spreading Good Practices in the
The purpose of the REKRY-AMARE project is to support the employment of
academically trained immigrants and immigrants with other valuable skills, to study
and create flexible qualification channels, to study the preconditions for successful
recruitment and to utilise the good practices of other EU countries, especially in
recruiting immigrants with higher education and in utilising their expertise.
University of Helsinki, Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education, (Lahti and
HAMK University of Applied Sciences
Päijät-Häme Employment and Economic Development Office
Heinola Employment and Economic Development Office
Kouvola Employment and Economic Development Office
GEKO- Association for European and Local Politics (Berlin, Germany)
Adam Mickiewicz University, Centre for Migration Studies (Poznan, Poland)
GEMS Northern Ireland Limited (UK, Belfast)
Dublin Ballymun Job Centre (Dublin, Ireland)
Jaan Tõnisson Institute (Tallinn, Estonia)
Introduction. Migration processes in Estonia 3
1. Monitoring of migration in Estonia. Quality of statistical data about migration 5
2. The Population Register 8
3. Procedures of registering and adapting immigrants in Estonia 10
4. Adaptation programs in Estonia for the immigrants with higher education and
scientific degrees 14
5. The new Aliens Act to enter into force 04.10.2010 16
6. Procedures of registering and adapting immigrants in the other project partner
7. Comparison of the Estonian and foreign findings 22
8. Suggestions for bettering the procedures of registering and adapting immigrants
in Estonia 23
Introduction. Migration processes in Estonia.
Estonia is a country of rather limited by the number of total population human
resources.1 Due to the democratic freedoms and Estonia’s joining the European
Union possibilities for people’s movement – immigration and emigrations have
become for Estonia essential being negative since the beginning of the 1990-s.2
A total number of 10,326 persons, or 1,291 persons (0.1 % of the population which
is also the annual quota for immigration to Estonia) per year came to Estonia in
2000-2007 period. 3 The most important countries of origin for immigrants were
neighboring Finland (31 %) and Russia (24 %). A considerable number also came
from Ukraine, Germany, Sweden, Latvia and UK.5 Thus, only few immigrants
arrived in Estonia from the countries outside EU and CIS. The number of asylum
seekers and refugees in Estonia is also very small. According to the data available
from the Citizenship and Migration Board in 2008, they have received 14 ap-
plications for asylum. Four persons have been granted refugee status, and unlike
previous years no subsidiary protection was allocated. In 1997-2009 (1quarter)
most of the asylum seekers came from Iraq (22), Russia (21), Turkey (17), Belarus
(11), Georgia (10), Pakistan, Afghanistan (8), and Nigeria (6).4
During the economical crisis of the last years the emigration flow from Estonia
grew and the society has lost considerable amount of people who left the country
for working and making living abroad. During the period 2004 – 2010 the average
age of the emigrating from Estonia people dropped from 35-40 years to 20-25 and
also the level of education has dropped.5 Emigration consists from one hand of
more and more of young persons not finding employment in Estonia who work in
abroad on the less qualified occupations for instance in the construction business,
baby-sitters etc. Another group of people leaving the country are well-educated
specialists like different categories of medical staff starting from nurses to
surgeons, bus drivers etc. In 2009 the age of those emigrated was around 30
As a result in Estonia increases lack of work-power, especially qualified work-
power. Thus the president of Estonia launched in 2010 a campaign “Talendid
koju!” (“Talented People Back to Home”) for calling from abroad back emigrated
people and offering them some benefits. The campaign set a goal to bring in 2011
from 200000 living in abroad Estonians at least 25 people back home. A specific
website http://talendidkoju.ee/ was opened to give to the people interested in the
returning conditions a practical advice.7
Supporting people’ s return home has taken place already before that campaign.
42 Estonians and Estonian citizens returning from abroad received support to do
1 According to estimate on 01.01.2011 1 340 100 (http://www.stat.ee/49435)
2 Presentation of Ms Helerin Rannala on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
3 Julia Kovalenko, Peter Mensah, Tadas Leončikas, Karolis Žibas. New immigrants in Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania. Tallinn 2010.
5 Presentation of Ms Liis Valk on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
so from the Estonian Migration Foundation in 2009. The same figure in 2008 was
exactly 200 more - with 242 returnees supported in coming back to Estonia. The
support is available to Estonians and Estonian citizens who have lived outside of
the country for more than 10 years or who were born in another country.
As in 2008, the majority of those returning to the country in 2009 were younger
people. 31 of the 42 were of working age; 7 were children; and the remaining 4
were pensioners. 26 returned to Estonia from Russia, including 18 from Pechory
(a town which once formed part of Estonia but which today lies just across the
border). The countries ranked second and third from which people returned were
the United States (5) and Italy (3). The Migration Foundation allocated a total of
695,000 kroons in support of people returning to Estonia in 2009. The average
sum received per applicant for the year was 16,547 kroons, more than double the
figure for 2008 (7882 kroons) and higher than the figure for 2007 (13,923 kroons).8
In April 2011 the speaker of Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) Ms Ene Ergma had to
commit in her presentation on the conference “Will the Estonian Nation Survive?”,
that the campaign has not been as successful as expected.9 It is rather evident
that Estonian state is deeply interested in immigration of highly qualified specialists
to keep the innovation and economical development going. One resource which is
not found respective usage is adaptation and supporting of immigrated foreigners
interested in living and working in Estonia.
Lack of the qualified work-power in Estonia is evident and it has the tendency to
deepen. Therefore it should be reasonable not only to invite the educated and
skilled Estonian emigrants to return back home but also offering to the immigrants
with higher education and scientific degrees relevant occupations. For those
purposes the registration procedures of immigrant people taking into account their
education and profession should be essential. Also the ways of that kind of
database renewal should be elaborated.
Around 84% of inhabitants of Estonia are the citizens of the country and 16%
(216287) are the official living permit owners here. 101369 of those having living
permit in Estonia are persons with undetermined citizenship, and the rest are
mostly citizens of the third countries. The citizens of the Russian Federation make
the biggest part of that figure (985980).10
Presentation of Ms Liis Valk on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
1. Monitoring of migration in Estonia. Quality of statistical data about
It is acknowledged by the officials that the migration is one of the most important
vital events that should be reflected in the population estimation. Unfortunately, it
is recognised also that migration data has not been published in Estonian statistics
for the past years due to a low reliability of data on residence registrations.
Together with the statistics on births and deaths, migration constitutes an
important part of accurate population estimation and the lack of migration data has
strongly affected the published population figure and its quality. 11
There are several reasons why the collection and publishing of migration data is
not satisfactory. Some of the reasons are explained with the historical conditions,
some rely on the contemporary processes of introducing into Estonian migration
statistics European patterns and practices.
For instance registration of residence is often seen as a relic of the Soviet period
that violates personal privacy, and people often fail to see the personal benefit
arising from such registration. Even politicians sometimes do not grasp the need of
the central and local government units for a precise overview of the composition,
distribution and changes in the population in their territory (natural or migration
increase or decrease by regions). However, balanced social, regional and
economic policies as well as long term regional plans and development plans are
not possible without information on population distribution and changes in vital
events that should reflect the reality as accurately as possible. It is difficult to
improve the quality of migration data received from official registers by relying on
methodological corrections only, but it still seems to be possible.
Mandatory registration of residence was abolished in Estonia in the beginning of
the 1990s after termination of the Soviet population registration system. A new
functional system was set up only in 2005 and, consequently, reliability of the
Estonian migration and residence data decreased during the interim period. Fall in
the quality of residence registration data in the 1990s was confirmed by the
analysis of the 2000 Population Census migration data and Census questionnaire,
which indicated somewhat different migration directions and intensity than could
have been assumed on the basis of registered changes of residence.
It turned out that the registered migration events do not reflect the demographic
and regional distribution of migrating population (both within Estonia at the county
level and by countries of destination and origin) not even in terms of proportion.
This is the reason why Statistics Estonia has not included migration events in the
population estimation since 2000. Annual population figures are currently updated
only by adding the data on births and deaths, i.e. the data on natural increase,
which means that such an important element as external migration has not been
included in the population estimation and the impact of internal migration is not
taken into account in regional statistics. The consequence is that the statistical and
11 The chapter is based on the report by Alis Tammur, Helerin Rannala, Ülle Valgma (Statistics Estonia), Anne
Herm (Statistics Estonia, Eurostat), Enel Pungas (Estonian Ministry of the Interior):
actual population figure and composition vary to a significant degree in many
Census 2000 up to 2007 no migration data were collected in Estonia. On the
period 2000 – 2004 the Population Register Act did not provide for mandatory
registration of residence. In case of both internal and external migration, people
frequently registered their residence because of specific local government benefits
granted to the residents of a particular rural municipality or city, not because of
actual change of residence. These local benefits lead to fake registrations of
residence, which means that no actual migration occurred despite the registration
of a new residence. This way, people who did not actually change residence are
entered in migration statistics. Besides, there can be reversed situations. It is still
fairly common that people change residence but fail to register the event or
register it much later.
Neither data source alone would provide necessary information on immigration,
but linking of the two enables to produce regular statistical data, which are more
reliable and comply better with international requirements. In the context of
migration events, the population register provides data on changes of residence by
persons living in Estonia and, since August 2006 also data on the rights of
residence granted to EU citizens. The Citizenship and Migration Board (CMB)
issues residence and work permits to immigrants who are not Estonian nationals
and the application questionnaire also includes questions that contain parameters
necessary for statistical analysis. Combining of the two databases enables to
create a more complete account of the number (by adding migration events) and
composition (by adding missing parameters) of immigrants. The data contained in
the register of residence permits is used to supplement the database of migration
events only if the population register does not include respective data items or the
required parameters are not presented there at all.
The population register data on the period 2000–2007 were supplemented by the
data from CMB for three reasons:
• An alien who came to settle in Estonia on the basis of residence permit has not
registered his/her residence with the population register. Consequently, residence
registration data alone does not give a complete picture of everyone who came to
Estonia in a calendar year. However, when applying for a residence permit at the
CMB, the aliens are required to disclose their contact address in Estonia and this
can be considered residence of the person until the official residence registration;
• An immigrant registered his/her place of residence in Estonia, but does not
provide any additional statistical data about him/herself. If this data is available in
the CMB register, the population register can be supplemented with this data;
• The CMB database includes more statistically significant parameters, because
certain data collected during the residence permit application procedure are not
forwarded to the population register: reason for applying for a residence permit,
and if the stated reason is employment, the applicant should also fill out data on
the economic activity of the employer, type of employment contact, salary and
As of 2008, the CMB data are no longer supplemented with the data on residence
in Estonia, because registration of residence by holders of residence permits has
improved considerably. Most people have now completed the registration ex post
facto. Therefore, it can be assumed that if a person has not registered his/her
residence, he/she did not settle in Estonia, while the situation was rather reversed
Since 2008 there is only one more significant change in the situation with data
collecting about migration in Estonia: short term emigration and immigration when
persons have stayed respectively in abroad or in Estonia less than one year is not
taken into account.12
Consequently, we can see that the quality of data has improved and the variance
between the Estonian and Eurostat data has decreased. However, the analysis
also demonstrates under-coverage of external migration data, which can generally
be extrapolated to movement flows to and from other countries. It is also evident
that the migration data collected by the authorities does not provide any trustful
information about the educational level or profession of the immigrant population
as presenting of that data is optional/voluntary.
According to registration data overwhelming majority of immigrants do have
Estonian citizenship and the citizenship of Russian Federation follows. Speaking
about the illegal immigration to Estonia Mr. Toomas Kuuse from Estonian Police
and Border Guard Board (PBGB) stated that it is considerably low comparing with
the European Union data. There were around 1000 cases of illegal immigration to
Estonia in 2010 and around 100 deporations.13
12 Data received by e-mail from the leading specialist of Statistics Estonia Ms. Helerin Rannala.
13 Presentation of Mr Toomas Kuuse on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
2. The Population Register.
The statistical personal data about the Estonian population contains in the
Population Register. The Population Register14 is the uniform database of the
personal data of Estonian citizens and foreigners with Estonian residence permits,
which is administered and developed by the Ministry of the Interior. The data in the
Population Register is used for performing the tasks assigned to institutions of the
state and the local governments as well as physical and legal persons. Legal and
physical persons have access to the data in the Population Register only in case
of legitimate interests. The administration and issuance of Population Register
data is based on the requirements of the protection of personal data.
The work of the population register is governed by the Population Register Act
(2000) the purpose of which is to ensure the collection of main personal data in a
single database for the performance of functions of the state and local
governments provided by law upon the exercise of the rights, freedoms and
obligations of persons, and the maintenance of records on the registration of
population. Pursuant to the Population Register Act, a person shall register a new
residence (of himself/herself, his or her children and persons under his or her
guardianship) within thirty days after settling permanently in the new residence.
The space the address details of which a person indicates as a place of residence
shall be a residential building or apartment, which is used as permanent
residence, or a non-residential space used as a residence.
Correct data in the Population Register provide the state with information that
enables the state to better perform its obligations. Based on the data in the
Register, it is possible for the state to more precisely plan the use of monetary
resources and manage the development process. It also guarantees the existence
of exact information that allows administrative agencies to conduct business with
the residents more smoothly.
In cases specified by law, the data in the Population Register has legal effect. As
of 1 January 2006, the vital records compiled using the Register’s software have
legal effect, which means that the information is considered to be correct based
exclusively on the data in the Register, and there is no need to prove this
information with a paper copy.
The residence data entered in the Population Register has legal effect in three
1. Voter cards are sent to the address in the Population Register.
2. Personal income tax is received by local governments based on residence data.
3. If an address is needed for the performance of functions specified by law, the
address data in the Register will be used.
The Population Register contains the following information on Estonian citizens
and foreigners with Estonian residence permits:
• first and family name
• personal ID code
• residence data
• birth data (date and place of birth)
• existence of foreigners’ residence and work permits and term thereof
• death data (date and place of death)
The following data on individuals is also entered in the Population Register:
• marital status
• information on spouse and children
• guardianship information
• information on restrictions of active legal capacity
• statistical or testimony-based data (nationality, native language, education,
field of activity)
• data on documents issued to the individual (number, issue time and date of
• identity card, passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, marriage certificate,
As pointed out above the data concerning people´s educational level and
professional profile is testimony-based and therefore does not serve as a basis for
any serious analysis.
The data in the Population Register is constantly updated upon the registration of
personal events and the documents issued by institutions of the state or local
governments. Of the institutions fulfilling public law functions, the main providers of
data are the Citizenship and Migration Board; county, city and rural municipality
governments as registry authorities; the courts and foreign representations.
The entry of data in the Population Register takes place with the help of special
software upon the registration of the event (birth, death, marriage, etc.) or
issuance of the document (identity card, passport, residence permit, etc.). For
instance, upon the registration of the birth of a child, a entry develops in the
Population Register regarding the newborn, where his/her first and family name,
gender, personal ID code and residence are indicated.
There is also data that can only be submitted for entry into the Population Register
by the individual. The residence data in the Register is entered or amended based
on a residence notice submitted by the individual. Upon the birth of a child, the
mother’s address is automatically registered as the child’s residence.
Commenting the habits and behaviors of immigrants Ms Helerin Rannala from
Statistics Estonia announced relying on the practical experiences that persons
who did not follow the registration procedures established in the country of origin
do not follow them also while immigrating to another country.15
15 Presentation of Ms Helerin Rannala on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
3. Procedures of registering and adapting immigrants in Estonia.
For the basis of the following descriptions about the procedures serve the
explanations and comments given by the specialists of Statistics of Estonia.16
Statistical population estimation is based on population censuses. (The next
population census will take place in the beginning of 2012.) Administrative data
serve as sources of statistical data in between the censuses. The population
register is the main source of data on migration events. Administrative data are
required mainly for adopting decisions on individuals and therefore the
methodology used in case of these data somewhat differs from the methodology of
population statistics. Personal data in administrative databases can, in case of
necessity, be checked, corrected, specified and updated, but correct statistical
information requires recording of correct data at a specific moment of time and,
faulty or incomplete records should, to the maximal degree, be corrected before
compilation of aggregate statistical indicators. Consequently, data collection for
the population register is not directly registration of migration events, but the new
residence data entered in the register on the basis of a notice of residence enable
to deduce a migration event if residence data is compared with the data entered
previously in the register.
Production of statistics requires personalised data (which can be associated with
personal identification code). This enables to link data with other data sources in
order to add or correct parameters and events, and to evaluate the quality of data.
In addition, there should be a possibility to compile statistics at the level of
individual events and persons. The source used to supplement migration data
should enable to record both the arrivals and departures of persons. Otherwise,
the information on migration process remains one-sided, which creates a
Linking of the data from the population register and the register of residence and
work permits helped to improve significantly the quality of data on immigration to
Estonia. Contact information can also be submitted to the population register in
addition to the details of residence. Contact details include e-mail address, post
box number, telephone number as well as address of the space of residence if the
person resides in another place for a longer period of time or from time to time or if
only the city, rural municipality, city district or rural municipality district is indicated
as the residence of the person.
All immigrants arriving in Estonia from third countries, i.e. countries outside the
EU, (and persons who immigrated from the EU prior to August 2006) have to apply
for a residence permit from the CMB. In order to supplement the external migration
data with the data from CMB, Statistics Estonia submits to CMB once a year a
written application on the required data set and concludes a data exchange
A long-term migrant is a person who moves from the country of permanent
residence to another country for a period of at least one year, so that the country
of destination becomes his/her new country of permanent residence. For the
country of origin, such person is a long- term emigrant and, for the country of
16 A. Tammur, H. Rannala. Ränne. Migration.
destination the person is a long-term immigrant. In Estonia, the 12-month criterion
is the easiest to apply to the immigration of aliens — it is possible to identify the
aliens who have been granted the residence permit for at least one year. It is not
completely accurate in relation to the definition above but it still enables to
estimate the number of long-term immigrants. However, this adapted definition
cannot be applied to immigration and emigration of citizens, persons with EU right
of residence and aliens with a permanent residence permit, because the expected
periods of stay or absence are not registered in advance upon residence
Statistics Estonia turns to the CMB for data on persons who have come to Estonia
for the first time (first-time arrival is indicated by the date of data entry, which must
be close to the date of issuing the residence permit) and have applied for an initial
residence permit with a term of one year (365 days), have extended a short-term
initial residence permit to at least one year, or have at least one year gap between
two valid residence permits. Next, the participation of these persons in immigration
is clarified. The data from different procedures of the CMB residence permits
register and population register are used for that purpose. Statistics Estonia also
collects data on persons who hold the Estonian residence permit or have the right
of residence in Estonia valid for less than one year.
Specification of migration data Immigration event means leaving a foreign country
and coming to live in Estonia for a period of at least one year. Immigration events
can be created in three ways:
• A person (Estonian national, EU citizen, national of a third country with a
residence permit or stateless person) coming to Estonia from a foreign country
registers the change of residence with the population register. This is done with
the same notice of residence procedure both within the country and upon moving
from one country to another; If a person receives a residence permit but does not
register his/her residence with the population register, the CMB data can be used
to determine his/her presumable residence in Estonia. The persons who fail to
register their residence after receiving the residence permit will have a problem if
they need to extend their residence permits — this is not possible without a
registered residence. In this case they have to register their residence with the
population register before extension of the residence permit and this registration
does not always indicate earlier arrival from abroad. Regarding the residence
permits granted during 2000–2007, the initial date of residence permit, the initial
date of residence and the residence addresses in the two registers were
• If the population register did not indicate the previous residence of the person but
CMB had the residence address in a foreign country, this was recorded as the
previous residence of the person. As of 2008, there is no need to specify the
Estonian residence data with supplementary information from the CMB, because
few and fewer immigrants fail to register their residence in Estonia. These might
likely be the persons who have not actually moved to Estonia. The first step in the
production of migration statistics and population estimations is clearing up of
individual records. This is done by extracting migration events — changes of
residence beyond the boundaries of the country, county, local government unit or
urban settlement (city without municipal status, town) — from annual data. The
data are then arranged in the form of a datasheet table of migration events, where
each row describes a migration event by indicating the locations of departure and
arrival and includes the demographic and statistical parameters of the person who
changed residence. It should be possible to process data by both persons and
events. The fields are filled out by relying on different sources. Any missing
parameters on ethnic nationality and place of birth are imputed. The arranged data
are entered in a general table that includes all changes of residence since 2000. If
necessary, previous residence from the general table can be added, without
repeated processing, to the data of persons who have already changed residence
in the observed period.
The intensity of migration events is generally age-related. Migration intensity is
usually higher in the age group 20–29 in connection with studies, start of
employment and family creation. Many young people do not own immovable
property and live on different rental premises for short periods.
Analysis of migration data has indicated that migration data are more inaccurate in
case of younger people in the more active migration age. As the age distribution of
birth-givers partially overlaps with the age distribution of more active migrants and
an actual register- based database of birth-givers is available, the overlap was
studied in greater detail. The processing was based on the 2006 birth data
recorded in the birth registry and in the birth database of Statistics Estonia.
There are different types of residence permits in Estonia:
Temporary residence permits (up to 5 years):
• settling with spouse (married );
• settling with a close relative;
• for working (employment);
• for study;
• for business;
• on the basis of sufficient legal income (forbidden to work);
• substantial public interest (applied by the prosecutor’s office);
• based on an international agreement.
Long- term residence permit (permanent).
As a general rule an applicant should submit the application for a temporary
residence permit at a foreign representation of the Republic of Estonia. Exceptions
are aliens, who apply residence permit for study in Master’s or Doctor’s study.
Residence permit applications are processed by the aliens division in the Police and
Border Guard Board. An alien applying for residence permit is subject to the annual
immigration quota for aliens immigrating to Estonia (0,1% of the permanent
population of Estonia). Processing can take up to 2 months. An alien is required to
register his or her residence in the population register within 1 month after entry into
In conclusion: some required parameters improve the quality of data in the register
such as education, which is an important parameter in describing particularly the
external migration. Others are unique additional parameters that supplement the
statistics on immigrants like by the reason for applying for a residence permit and
employment information. Among all those procedures and conditions described
above the data about person´s profession is asked only in the case when an
employer applies for working permit in Estonia to a specialist.17
A. Herm, J. Jõeveer, R. Senipalu, Ü. Valgma. Välisränne. Andmekogumine haldusandmestikest.
Rahvusvahelise rände andmete metoodika p 13. http://www.stat.ee/files/eva2005/valisranne.ee.pdf
There is Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund – a public body that helps
unemployed people to find again employment. This institution may theoretically
collect data about immigrants with higher education or scientific degrees, but in
reality EUIF also does not have any corresponding reliable database as only those
people who have living permit in Estonia can use their services.18
An emerging problem in the country is that establishing of fictional enterprises in
the country enabling to apply living permits for the board-members of those
institutions is rather easy. A scandalous case of that kind emerged on December
01 2011 when the information was made public about the high-ranked Estonian
politicians who are running a scheme where they help millionaires from Russia
and other CIS countries to register a place of residence in Estonia that enables
them to obtain the Estonian residence permit and travel freely in Europe.19
It should also be mentioned that the local governments are rather important actors
dealing with the migration data. Each person has to register him/herself in the local
government – town or community – where he/she lives. They need to prove in the
local government office that they have sufficient legal income and health
insurance. Unfortunately people who do not tend to register at home, do not do it
here also. The local governments have not shown up sufficient interest towards
cooperation with the state authorities in dealing with the migration issues. 20
18 E-mail information from ms Kaire Cocker - EURES adviser, Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.
20 Presentation of Ms Liis Valk on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
4. Adaptation programs in Estonia for the immigrants with higher education
and scientific degrees.
Despite the relatively low number of immigrants in Estonia there are steps taken
for providing to people with different cultural background help for adaptation into
the society. There have been some short and longer term programs implemented
by different institutions for providing integration courses to the immigrants. By
observing and interviewing while running those programs the new immigrants in
Estonia it was discovered that besides social and cultural factors there are lot of
individual psychological factors (e.g. feeling of isolation, low self-esteem, negative
attitudes, anxiety, frustration, distress, low motivation) affecting their adjustment
and success. These factors influence their choices when establishing contacts
with locals and being active in job seeking, in business and in communication.
Immigrants claim that strong ties with the local ethnic community provide support
and assistance during the first days in a variety of ways and ease adaptation,
however, in a long run these strong ties become an obstacle for social adaptation
There is a special institution – Integration Foundation - established in the country
with the goal in respect of migration to support migration processes.22 The
foundation also consults the people who are returning to Estonia or leaving the
country in migration issues and offers them financial support if necessary. The
Foundation offers migration support for re-migration, emigration and extradition.
The Foundation also offers migration consultations. The projects and the
assistance are addressed to the improving of immigrants Estonian language skills
and for introducing to them Estonian history, culture and functioning of the state.
General aim of a typical integration project is increasing employment through the
development of human resources: integration of new immigrants into the Estonian
society through adaption training and intensive Estonian language studies, and
their preparation for entry into the labor market.
Taking as example one concrete project while assessing the results of it one could
say that the main assumption of the project was that migrants potential of entering
labor market is limited due to their limited knowledge of Estonian.23 The
procedures of that typical project were as it follows:
- mapping the target group,
- collecting the necessary information from the migration register of the Migration
Foundation, Population Register, Labour Market Board, Citizenship and Migration
Board, Unemployment Insurance Fund, local municipalities,
- the persons who wanted to participate in the project were interviewed at the
beginning of the project in order to find out their problems, needs and expectations
21 Psychological barriers affecting the adaptation of immigrants in Estonia
22 The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) was founded on 31 March 1998 under the
name of the Non-Estonians Integration Foundation. Between spring 2008 and the end of 2009 it was known
simply as the Integration Foundation. On 1 January 2010 the Integration Foundation merged with the
Estonian Migration Foundation, which was founded on 10 June 1992. The joint institution now bears the name
of the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People.
23 New Home – integration of new immigrants into Estonian society and their entry to the labour market. April
2007 – August 2008. http://ec.europa.eu/ewsi/en/practice/details.cfm?ID_ITEMS=10600
in terms of the training, also for feedback and to draw conclusions at the end of the
- the two-day adaptation training was composed (three groups were trained
separately, each group included 20 members of the target group) in total 144
- the intensive Estonian language courses was carried out in five groups of 10
participants: four hours a week during three months – in total 240 hours,
- individual counseling of the members of the target group for making vocational
decisions, active search of employment and preparation for work interviews took
place; a case-based approach for establishing contacts with employers was also
- two-day seminar-study tour “Discover Estonia!” for 60 members of the target
- two one-day seminar-trainings for the project team and representatives of the
support network at the beginning of the project and one one-day summarising and
analysing joint training together with all members of the target group at the end of
- media campaigns and events for informing the public,
- the project partner MTÜ Kodanikukoolitus compiled the explanatory migration,
integration and labor terminology dictionary.
Direct results of that particular project were:
1. 60 members of the target group passed the adaption training,
2. 50 members of the target group participated in intensive Estonian language
courses necessary for their profession,
3. 10 members of the target group participated in individual practical work,
4. 60 members of the target group received necessary, individual counseling and
5. 30 members of the target group who participated in the project found
At the present time there is Integration Strategy document developed for the
country until 2013 in force. The budget for arranging of the adaptation courses to
meet the specific goals of the Strategy was in 2010 and 2011 48000 €.24
Presentation of Mr Ruslan Prohhorenko from Integration Foundation on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in
Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
5. The new Aliens Act to enter into force 04.10.2010.
The new Aliens Act entering into force as of 1 October 2010 established more
thorough regulations on the studying and working activities of foreigners in Estonia
and impose liability for violation of the Act.25
The new Act does not entail significant changes for foreigners themselves – the
procedural acts and the requirements set forth in the former Aliens Act remain
largely the same. Above all, the main changes concern the responsibilities of
education institutions and employers, and cross-border passenger transport.
According to the new Act, applications for a temporary residence permit can in
Estonia be submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board by foreigners staying
in the country legally (e.g. on the basis of a visa) and is applying for a residence
permit in order to study under a nationally recognized curriculum in master’s or
doctor’s studies. In cross-border passenger transport, the new Act obligates both
natural and legal person carriers to check, before accepting a foreigner onto their
transport vehicle, whether the foreigner is carrying a document required for border-
crossing and has legal basis for entering Estonia or being in the transit zone.
A general requirement deriving from the new Act is the obligation to prove the
existence of actual dwelling space upon applying for a temporary residence
permit. Upon inviting a foreigner to Estonia, employers, educational institutions
and the persons providing accommodation for the foreigner will now be obligated
to check, whether the foreigner they have invited to Estonia has legal basis for
staying in the country. In regard to foreigners studying and working in Estonia, the
Act extends the notification obligation of educational institutions and employers.
For instance, educational institutions will be obligated to notify the Police and
Boarder Guard Board of the conclusion and termination of training contracts with
foreigners. From now on, notification also has to be given in case foreigners, who
have been granted a temporary residence permit for studying, fail to commence
As an important aspect, the new Act stipulates penalties for various violations. A
fine of up to 300 fine units and, in case of legal persons, a fine of up to 50,000
EEK26 will be imposed on employers for allowing a violation of the requirements
for foreigners working in Estonia, including for allowing the foreigners to work in
conflict with the requirements established by law. The same applies to employers
paying a salary to foreigners for working in Estonia below the rates established by
law, or not paying a salary or failing to fulfill the notification obligation.
“The Act does, indeed stipulate and provide for penalties, but no one will bother
proper foreigners. How does one distinguish proper foreigners? Their documents
are in order,” the Minister of the Interior added. The Aliens Act stipulates the
grounds for the arrival, temporary stay and employment of foreigners in Estonia
and the liability for violating the obligations set forth by the Act. Furthermore, as of
1 October 2010, it is possible to check the registration of temporary employment
and the validity of the visa of foreigners on the homepage of the Police and Border
26 3200 €
6. Procedures of registering and adapting immigrants in the other project
The following table is composed based on the data provided by the REKRY-
AMARE project partners27. The partners answered in the written form the questions
that are included into the column “Question” of the table.
Table 1. Registering and adapting immigrants in the project partner countries.
Question Poland Northern Ireland Germany Finland
1. Should the level of No definite answer as It depends on the Modest, only compa-
migration migration is based on time you look at – rable few move to
processes in your the UK Borders and against what you Finland (Finland is
country be Agency Points benchmark – against. not considered
characterized as system.28 It could be among the top des-
modest, average or considered modest. tination countries for
excessive? migrants) and leave
the country. All the
same, Finland’s im-
has increased in re-
2. What is a bigger Home Office does Germany has to work Both are not a
problem for your not report it, but UK harder for a good problem since only
country - newspapers see immigration policy to relatively few enter
immigration or immigration as a real integrate coming and leave the
emigration? Please, problem. people. country. Problematic
give some short is to address and
explanations. win the right
immigrants and to
3. What are the Office for On a national level Statistical offices on Till the end of 2011
institutions in your Foreingers. the UK Home Office. different level and Ministry of the
country monitoring one central interior (starting in
27 About Poland - dr Magdalena Ziółek-Skrzypczak, Centrum Badań Migracyjnych (CeBaM) Uniwersytet im.
Adama Mickiewicza; about Norther Ireland - Susan Russam, GEMS Northern Ireland Limited; about Germany
– Hartmut Siemon, GEKO- Association for European and Local Politics; about Finland - Mattias Spies and
Jenni Korjus, Helsingin yliopisto Koulutus- ja kehittämiskeskus Palmenia.
28 The Points Based System introduced by the UK Border Agency in 2008 was for the most part designed well
and provides an adaptable means of meeting the UK’s work-related immigration policy objectives. However,
according to the National Audit Office, the System is not yet delivering its full potential for value for money. Its
processes and systems are not efficient and customer service could be improved. The Agency can also
provide little assurance that it is effectively managing the risk of non-compliance with immigration rules by
migrants and their sponsors.
The Points Based System scores migrants against a number of assessment criteria, including their skills. The
system appears to have attracted skilled applications, although the evidence is not robust.
Between 1990 and 2009, the number of foreign citizens legally residing in Finland increased six-fold, from
26,300 to 155,700. Out of the total population of 5.3 million, approximately 300,000 people in Finland, or 5
percent, claim a foreign background (having been foreign born, speaking a foreign language, or having
foreign citizenship). However, national differences are big: the migration process is very excessive in the Hel-
sinki Metropolitan area and also growing in other cities in Southern Finland (including Lahti and Kouvola).
migration department, 2012: Ministry of
processes? additional the central Labour) is the main
labour office and institution but when
unemployment a foreigner wants to
assurance enter and reside in
institution. Finland, he or she
may have to deal
with several different
4. How (if and how) do No comprehensive Immigrants with In the mentioned in They are not
you register immig- immigrant degrees from 3rd pos. 3 national registered differently
rants with higher integration policy, countries enter UK department. from other
academic educa- no special via the Borders immigrants.
tion (degrees) registering. Agency Points Based Information about
coming to your System. education is
country from the collected but too
3rd countries? generally.
5. What kind of data No national For 3rd country There are annual 3rd country nationals
are collected recruitment national the UK reports. that apply for
characterizing programs. No Borders Agency residency have to
immigrants with national data Points Based system provide information
higher academic register, will register skilled about their
education councelling body applicants. education.
(degrees)? on degrees.
6. Does the country Labour market is Employers and There was a new law That is the goal but
try to employ these opened for all potential employees adopted in the fall all too often it is not
people according to EU/EEA citizens need to satisfy the 2011 that appears to reached. There is a
their qualification? For others tempo- UK Points based be too weak really to need for compre-
Pleas, give some rary migrants work system that they can help people to find hensive strategies
short explanations. permit needed. not employ either UK jobs according to and reliable
Exceptions: - or EU national and their skills. procedures.
students and they need to employ
workers from 3-rd country national.
ment up to 6
months in a given
year). Depends on
their process of
30Many other authorities in addition to the Finnish Immigration Service handle issues connected to
immigration. The most important partners in immigration issues are
• Ministry of the Interior as well as the police, border guard authorities, reception centres for asylum seekers
and the Ombudsman for Minorities, which are subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior
• Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as Finnish diplomatic missions abroad, which are subordinate to the
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
• Ministry of Employment and the Economy as well as Employment and Economic Development Offices and
Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which are subordinate to the Ministry of
Employment and the Economy
• Ministry of Education as well as The Finnish National Board of Education and Centre for International
Mobility CIMO, which are subordinate to the Ministry of Education
•Ministry of Justice as well as Administrative Courts and the Supreme Administrative Court as appellate
authorities, which are subordinate to the Ministry of Justice (See table2 below.)
(asylum seekers in
a much worse
7. Does your country No comprehensive The Department for There are some There are several
have any special immigrant Employment and language courses programmes and
programs for integration policy. learning funds available but all over initiatives for the
immigrants to Only for refugees colleges to deliver it is far too little to integration of
become adjusted to and the immigrants ESOL courses. cover the needs. immigrants at many
their new society with the NGOs also deliver different levels of
(eg. for learning a complementary English Language for the society and
language)? protection status. Work programs and impended by many
Responsibilitiles on culturally competent organisations.
Ministry of Labor careers guidance. Overall, there is a
and Social Policy lack of coordination
Department of between those
Social Assistance programmes and
and Integration. resources are
The table below provides a general view of the most central matters concerning
immigration and the authorities that manage and make decisions on these
Table 2. Immigration issues in Finland in 2011.
Issues Authorities in charge
Immigration policy, focus points Immigration policy is directed by the Minister of the
Interior in accordance with government policy
Immigration administration and policy Ministry of the Interior
Development of immigration legislation Ministry of the Interior
Performance management of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior
Visa Diplomatic missions
Residence permit for a family member of a Finnish Police
citizen in Finland
Residence permit for a family member of a foreigner Finnish Immigration Service
living in Finland
Residence permit for EU/EEA citizen Police
Residence permit for an employed person Consideration of workforce needs: Employment and
Economic Development Office
Other conditions: Finnish Immigration Service
Residence permit for a self-employed person Prerequisites for self-employment:
Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the
Other prerequisites: Finnish Immigration Service
Asylum Asylum interview and decision: Finnish Immigration
Residence permit on the basis of subsidiary Service
protection or humanitarian protection Management and planning of reception of refugees:
Finnish Immigration Service
Establishment and closure of reception centres: Ministry
of the Interior
Placement into municipalities of quota refugees and
asylum seekers who have been granted a residence
Extension of residence permit Police, in special cases Finnish Immigration Service
Refusal of entry Frontier Guard, Police, Finnish Immigration Service
Deportation Recommendation: Police, Frontier Guard
Decision: Finnish Immigration Service
Finnish citizenship upon application or by Finnish Immigration Service
Appeals Administrative courts (asylum matters: Helsinki
Administrative Court), Supreme Administrative Court
Integration into society Ministry of the Interior, Centre for Economic
Development, Transport and the Environment,
Educational and cultural services Ministry of Education and National Board of Education
As seen from the Table 1 the project countries are rather laconic in answering to
the questions asked in the questionnaire. Only Finland – the leading partner in the
REKRY-AMARE project gave more elaborated and advanced answers, incl Table
2. The information received from the other countries proofs that the issues of
migration from the angle of the REKRY-AMARE project focus are not dealt much
in detail there. Northern Ireland nevertheless implements the well-elaborated UK
Borders Agency Points Based system for registering skilled applicants for 3rd
In all of the countries where the answers were received from estimated the level of
migration processes as modest. The migration is nevertheless seen in the
countries where the response to that question was received as something
problematic – even if not commented so on the level of official administration, than
lighted accordingly by mass media.
Although in each country there is established the national system for administering
of immigration processes, there tend not to be well elaborated comprehensive
immigrant integration policy and no special registering of registering immigrants
with higher academic education or/and scientific degrees takes place. If the data
characterizing immigrants with higher academic education is collected, it tends to
be rather general and not satisfying if detailed data about the immigrants’ skills
and experiences are needed.
The countries do different efforts for employing the immigrant people according to
their qualification, but the real situation is similar to what was expressed by the
Finish colleagues: this is the goal but all too often it is not reached.
The situation with the existence of special programs for immigrants to become
adjusted to their new society varies from country to country rather much. If in
Poland such kind of compulsory programs do lack in general, then in Northern
Ireland and in Germany language courses are priorities on the filed and in Finland
there are several programmes and initiatives for the integration of immigrants at
many different levels of the society and impended by many organisations.
7. Comparison of the Estonian and foreign findings
One of the differences of Estonia in comparison with the other project partner
countries is the smaller scale of Estonian population and more modest number of
procedures connected to the immigration and immigrants’ registration issues. For
instance in 2010 there was approximately 1000 applications for temporary
residence permits per country per month in Estonia.32 Emigration from Estonia to
other countries has been much larger process. For instance at the end of 2009
there were 25416 citizens of Estonia living in Finland with the permanent residence
permit making 16,4 % of all foreign citizens of that category. At the same time there
were only 3700 Finnish citizens living with the permanent living permit in Estonia.33
Although - the scale of immigration can in Estonia be also considered as modest or
even low. The difficulty relies in the fact that many people do work and stay in
Finland traveling between the two countries without any record about the migration.
It should also be noticed that Estonia deals today actually with two different
1. the immigration from the Soviet period that has left in the country a large number
of stateless persons who are considered today as the immigrants from the third
countries and belong to the group entitled to get the language and cultural
adaptation courses as they need it despite the fact of living in Estonia for decades
2. the immigration from the post-1992 year period that is considerably smaller than
the emigration during the same period. Those immigrants are moved into the
country either for contemporary living (like students) or permanent living (marriage
or invitation to work). Among this flow of immigrants there is followed higher interest
toward integration into Estonian society than among the first Soviet period flow.
Comparing the Estonian practices on the field of dealing with immigration it can be
concluded that in Estonia the system of registering of the immigrants and the nature
of the data collected from the people have been in progress throughout the period
of the re-gained independency. Starting from the post-Soviet rather liberal practices
of simplified registration and data collecting procedures the officials have moved
towards the more comprehensive procedures and data collecting. Still the data-
users do lack lot of trustful and reliable data about the immigrants and their
qualifications as providing of such information while filling up the immigration
documents is still voluntary. In the beginning of 2012 will take place next Population
Census in Estonia that may collect lot of new data about those indicators interesting
for the different purposes about immigrants from the third countries living in Estonia.
32Presentation of Ms Liis Valk on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
33Presentation of Ms Minna Halonen from the Finnish Embassy to Estonia on the REKRY-AMARE seminar in
Tallinn on 16.12.2010.
8. Suggestions for bettering the procedures of registering and adapting
immigrants in Estonia.
Created in 2008 by Rainer Münz Discussion paper “Migration, Labor Markets, and
Integration of Migrants: An Overview for Europe” states: EU labor markets
primarily creating demand for high skilled migrants as well as low skilled migrants.
Immigrants’ skills are, however, not evenly distributed between the EU Member
States. Some were more successful in attracting high skilled labour; for example
Ireland (59.0 percent), Denmark (37.8 percent) and Estonia (37.0 percent).34 At
the same time the number of labour force in Estonian economics has been in
decline as in the other Baltic States that differs sharply from the tendencies in
Finalnd for instance and the absolute numbers of mentioned in the discussion
paper attracted high skilled labour that concern Estonia are small.
Table 3. Dynamics of the labour force in the Baltic States and Finland.35
On 9 October 2008 the Government of Estonia gave an approval to the “Estonian
Action Plan for Growth and Jobs 2008-2011” defining 4 main challenges for
Estonian government and 9 goals.36 Non of those challenges and goals take into
consideration any occasions concerning integration of qualified immigrants into
Estonian society including labour market. Despite the low numbers of the
immigration from the third countries for Estonia here lie nevertheless the
opportunities to be used.
Based on the descriptions of the procedures of registering of migration and
integration programs that are submitted in the present paper the two categories of
suggestions may be revealed:
1. General suggestions.
1.1. To raise the reliability of the migration data collected for different databases.
1.2. To develop collecting of migration data that complies with the international
1.3. To restore the mandatory registration of residence.
1.4. To renew periodically the database of the Population Register of Estonia.
1.5. To raise the responsibility of the local governments for the reliability of the
1.6. To establish linking of the migration data between the different Estonian
1.7. To publish periodically the migration data.
2. Migrant education and professionalism-related suggestions.
2.1. To include into the documents for immigrants applying either for temporary or
permanent living permit a question about the person’s educational level and
2.2. To guarantee reliability of the data about immigrants’ educational level and
professional qualification by document base.
2.3. To include into the application documents for immigrants applying either
temporary or permanent living permit a question if they would like to be hired for
the work by their education and professional qualification.