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The government will re-open the borders for labour migration and learning mobility

6. July 2020 - 18:18

Stenbock House, 6 July 2020 – Today, based on the recommendations of the Council of the European Union, the government decided to open the Estonian border to residents of 14 low-infection countries outside the European Union, and approved the conditions for entering Estonia for work and study.


‘Today, we established the criteria for labour migration and learning mobility that provide security for students and entrepreneurs. The spread of COVID-19 has slowed down in Europe, but continues to grow globally. We want to protect the well-being and health of the people of Estonia, but also to ensure the functioning of the daily economy,’ said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. People can come to Estonia to work and study from all countries, but in the case of areas with a higher number of infections, restrictions will apply, for the fulfilment of which both the person arriving in Estonia and the person who invited them here are responsible. When it comes to travelling, we will follow the guidelines of the European Union.’


By the order of the government, people without symptoms from all countries can enter Estonia for the purpose of working or studying. People from countries where the number of infected persons per 100,000 people in the last two weeks is less than 16 can enter Estonia without any restrictions.


Upon arrival from countries outside the European Union where the number of infected persons per 100,000 people is more than 16, people entering Estonia for the purpose of work or study must remain in isolation, which is organised in cooperation with the employer or educational institution, respectively. Both transport and living during the 14-day period of self-isolation must be ensured, and the person must pass two coronavirus tests, one of which is performed upon arrival in Estonia and the other on the 14th day of stay. The employee can start working in Estonia on the 15th day of their stay in Estonia if their second test is negative.

Restrictions also apply on arrival in Estonia from countries where the number of infected people is unknown and where there is a higher risk of the virus spreading. The list of these countries is published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


In addition, based on the recommendations of the Council of the European Union, the Estonian border will be opened to residents of 14 low-infection countries outside the European Union. As of today, residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay will be able to travel to Estonia.


Foreigners arriving in Estonia from non-EU countries included in the list of countries with a lower infection rate or in transit through EU countries with less than 16 infected per 100,000 inhabitants are not subject to the 14-day movement restriction. The list of third countries from which entry into Estonia is permitted is updated every two weeks and published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Today, the government also changed its order and now, in addition to the countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, citizens and residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican (Holy See) as well as their families can travel to Estonia if they have no symptoms. The 14-day restriction on staying at the place of residence or stay applies to people who come here through the EU or Schengen countries with an infection rate of more than 16 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days (flexibility 10 per cent).


In addition, at today’s cabinet meeting, the government made fundamental decisions on the conditions of stay of foreign students and seasonal workers in Estonia. The government confirmed that studying in foreign-language curricula is generally subject to a fee, except for students under international and bilateral agreements. Studying in Estonian-language curricula is free of charge.


The government also plans to specify the right of family members of foreign students to stay in Estonia. In the future, only minor children of a single parent could accompany the student on the basis of their student status. If a foreign student is expelled, either at their own request or on the initiative of the higher education institution, their corresponding residence permit will expire after 30 days. These proposals would not apply to citizens and residents of the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


It is planned to reduce the time of working as a seasonal worker in Estonia until 30 April 2022 from the current 270 days to 180 days per 365 consecutive days.


With regard to the salary criteria for seasonal workers, the Secretary of State, in co-operation with the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Finance, will initiate a legal analysis to clarify the possibilities of establishing a minimum wage requirement based on sectoral and county average wages.


The Minister of Education and Research and the Minister of the Interior will present the respective draft legislation to the government’s session on 16 July.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in co-operation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, must submit proposals to the government for conducting a safe travel information campaign.