I HAVE A TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT IN ESTONIA. WHAT IS NEXT?
If you are reading this article, you have probably already obtained a temporary residence permit (or residence permit) in Estonia or will get it very soon. To learn more about the types of residence permits and how to get them, refer to our other articles before reading this one.
Temporary residence permit: how to renew
So, you have already moved to Estonia and have a document titled Elamisluba in Estonian. It allows you to live and work, but at some point all good things come to an end. If you are an IT specialist and the IT Talent team helped you move to the country, then your residence permit is most likely valid for 5 years. However, there are exceptions, and sometimes a residence permit is issued for 1 year.
As a rule, the validity of a residence permit by marriage is the same as the validity of a residence permit for employment. However, if spouses have been married for less than 3 years and have no children, the validity period can be twice as short. In other words, at some point, you will have to renew your documents. In this case, you may get surprised.
In July 2018, the Estonian Parliament, or Riigikogu in Estonian, simplified the entry procedure for highly qualified specialists and excluded this category from entry quotas, since they used to be taken up quickly. At the same time, the deputies decided to make your life more interesting and added the requirement for the level of Estonian to show, probably, that life is not just a bed of roses or due to their great love for one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and we have already talked about the last legend.
This requirement applies to all who have obtained a temporary residence permit of any type after July 15, 2018 (make a note of this date). Of course, it applies not immediately, but in five years. After this period, you are likely to renew your residence permit for the first time.
Despite the stories that Estonian is extremely complicated, it is not too difficult to get the required category A2. This level means that you know the fundamentals, i.e. basic grammar, and are able to hold sophisticated small talks about the weather in Estonia, your work and family. For illustration purposes, here is an example from English: London is the capital of Great Britain – it is not difficult at all, isn’t it? You can master the language at this level in 2 to 3 months.
When renewing your temporary residence permit after five years of living in the country, you will have to prepare a small package of documents. They should be submitted two months before your valid documents expire. The procedure is simple:
– Present your identification document, namely passport or ID card;
– Present your medical insurance (sometimes optional);
– The most important thing: pay the state fee of 64 euros and attach the confirmation.
You can renew your residence permit in the old manner at the service office of the Police and Border Guard Board or almost without leaving your home. To learn how to master kung fu techniques of e-document management, click here.
We would like to emphasize once again that it takes 2 months to make a decision on whether to issue or renew a temporary residence permit. You will receive updated documents within the next 30 days, so do not put it off to the last minute.
Long-term residence permit in Estonia
If you have lived in Estonia for five years on the basis of a temporary residence permit, it would be reasonable to apply for a long-term residence permit. It has several advantages: first, you will not have to prepare new documents each time you change your job; second, you will be able to vote in local elections. Of course, you will fail to stage a coup d'état, however, you can directly influence who will develop the area where you live; finally, this type of residence permit is a good start for obtaining Estonian citizenship (i.e. citizenship of the European Union).
How to get it? The procedure is a bit more complicated, but all of the obstacles are overcomable:
– Present your identification document, namely passport or ID card;
– Confirm your regular legal income;
– Take a selfie photo in compliance with all the requirements of the Department of Police and Border Guard in one of the nearest police bureaus;
– Attach your medical insurance (however, they are unlikely to ask for it);
– Estonia loves money: pay the state fee of 64 euros and attach the confirmation.
By the way, when renewing your temporary residence permit, you can fill out applications in Russian or, for example, English. However, in this case, you need to show your level of Estonian. It will not work to ask a colleague or a new friend to help with this since Estonian authorities have foreseen such a trick (they are tricky themselves): another requirement to get this type of residence permit is B1 level of language proficiency. Therefore, when submitting documents, attach the certificate to other documents.
B1 category means that you can tell about yourself in detail, share your plans and, of course, make God laugh by doing so, write an essay, and hold conversations with native speakers. No doubt, it is much more challenging to reach this level of Estonian language proficiency; however, you are not required to have perfect pronunciation or grammar knowledge. If you make a mistake, nobody will hit you. Even if it is too hard for you to master Estonian, try many times to reach your goal since the number of attempts is not limited.
Finally, it will take a bit longer than 3 months to process your application for a long-term residence permit in Estonia. And you will have to wait another 30 days to receive documents.
Citizenship of the Republic of Estonia
Let’s assume that you are not scared of the requirement for the level of Estonian. Then you can take the next logical step and try to become an Estonian citizen. To do this, you must have been connected with the country for at least 8 years (based on a residence permit), 5 of which you must be holding a permanent residency permit. It is long and difficult, and there is a question – why?
We will explain at the elementary level: Estonia is a member of the European Union, and Estonian citizenship offers opportunities for free movement and work inside the largest market in the world. Furthermore, the Estonian passport is one of the “strongest” in the world since you can travel visa-free to 179 countries of the world.
Regarding unobvious, but quite logical advantages, you can vote in elections of highest-level leaders of the country or try your luck and run in presidential elections, there are precedents. But keep in mind that Estonia is a jealous country that prohibits dual citizenship. Therefore, you will have to renounce the citizenship of your country – the renunciation procedure can be long, confusing, and painful. But that’s worth the effort has given the advantages of Estonian citizenship.
Knowledge of not only Estonian but also the state system and the Constitution – you will have to pass some exams – is the basis for obtaining Estonian citizenship. You should do the following:
– Suddenly: fill out the application;
– Present your ID document;
– Confirm your legal income;
– Get the certificate of renunciation of your former citizenship;
– Get the certificate of B1 level of proficiency in Estonian and attach it;
– Pass an exam of knowledge of the Constitution and the Citizenship Act and present the relevant certificate;
– Show your face – attach a picture;
– Confirm payment of the state duty of – a baker’s dozen – 13 euros.
It will take 6 months to process your application for citizenship; however, experience has proven that it all takes about a year, taking into account the procedure for renouncing your former citizenship. Be patient, in case of a positive decision, you will be invited to the Riigikogu for a ceremonial reception where top leaders will personally shake your hand for your efforts. Estonia is a small and cozy country, so later you may come across the same leaders of the country who shook your hand in the store.
Status of children born in Estonia
If you have a child, s/he automatically gets the status that you currently have. For example, if parents have a temporary residence permit, and their child was born in Estonia or was born abroad, but was entered in the Estonian Population Registry, s/he automatically obtains a temporary residence permit. You only need to apply for the relevant ID-card for the child.
If the child had been born before his/her parents received their status, they will later have to apply for the relevant document for the child.
Please, do not hesitate to contact migration consultants of the Police and Border Guard Board if you have any questions regarding Estonian immigration law:
Also, you can always seek advice at the International House of Estonia, a free-of-charge and user-friendly information center mentioned in other articles.
IT Talent recommendation
If you would like to stay in Estonia for a long time, we strongly recommend that you learn Estonian step by step as soon as you move in. Even one hour a week will be more than enough. It is not difficult to reach A2 level (for renewing your temporary residence permit) and B1 level (for obtaining a long-term residence permit or citizenship). You can take private lessons or attend group classes. In one of our blogs, we talked about where to start and how to reduce your training costs.
By the way, many employers (including IT Talent customers) provide their employees with opportunities to learn the language for free. Even if you only know the basics, you will avoid issues arising from bureaucratic delays. The specifics and methods of learning Estonian will be described soon in our next article.
If you are a good IT specialist and want to live in Estonia, an advanced and prosperous European country, then contact us! Our recruitment specialist will answer all your questions and tell you in detail how to move to Estonia, find a job here and start a new life. Email your questions and CVs to: email@example.com.
The material was reviewed and updated in September 2021.