Bureaucratic hurdles hampering the employment of IT employees from abroad have been eased.
Since the end of the financial crisis, Estonia’s real problem has not been unemployment, but a workforce deficit. The effective unemployment rate of 7.5% in the whole country (3. Quarter of 2016) means in reality that qualified employees are hard to find in the larger cities, and even in the capital. With a population of 1.3 million, not only does an entire state need to be kept up, but, along with other areas of employment, the booming IT sector must find a qualified workforce. Therefore, highly educated employees from other countries – not just the EU – are very welcome.
On 17 and 18 January, legal amendments to simplify the immigration and employment of foreigners entered into force. The immigration quota, which was 1317 in 2016, does not include foreign employees in the information technology sector or startup companies. The visa requirements for such employees have been simplified. Up to now, these employees had to earn 1.24 times the average Estonian wage; now, the average wage is sufficient.
The maximum possible duration for short-term employment has been extended from 6 to 9 months, and the employee can now apply for a visa or a residence permit at the same time.
Thus, bureaucratic hurdles have been reduced in order to let the IT sector boom on, and, at the same time, the service sector waits in vain for fresh forces from abroad – even the refugee quota for Estonia is still far from being reached.