Estonian immigration policies have been largely influenced by its historical development. The figures from 1989 show that the population was only 61.5 percent Estonian by origin with the remaining 38.5 percent belonging to other ethnic backgrounds. Remarkably, 26 percent of the Estonian population were foreign born.(1) After joining the European Union in 2004, Estonia faced a high rate of outward migration, which was connected, inter alia, to the higher average salaries of the other Member States. The rapid expansion of the Estonian economy and growth of employment coupled with the negative population growth contributed to the need of foreign skilled labour.(2) Besides, the recent reform in the education system accounts for shortage of technical specialists in some labour areas.(3) It is thus not surprising that Estonian government employs focused, selective and demand-based immigration strategies to fight the ‘global war for talents’.(4),(5) The objective of the restrictive immigration policy is to attract first and foremost highly qualified professionals in the strategic economic areas while avoiding uncontrolled immigration and increase the sustainability and competitiveness of the Estonian economy. First part of current paper provides an overview of who falls under the classification of a ‘skilled’ worker and the Estonian perspective on talent attraction and retention. The second part lays down the existing legal framework, which covers the conditions and procedures of knowledge-worker’s immigration to Estonia. Particularly, this includes the relatively recent amendments to the Aliens Act 2004, which came into force in 2008 and set forth a facilitated approach towards entry and residence requirements.
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16. Council Directive 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment. OJ L 155 of 18.6.2009.
17. Directive 2011/98/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State. OJ L 343, 23.12.2011.
18. Communication from the Commission ‘EUROPE 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’, COM (2010) 2020 final.
19. Estonian Aliens Act 09.12.2009 RT I 2010, 3, 4, entry into force 01.10.2010, amended.