The Estonian government recently introduced a major change affecting foreigners wishing to renew their temporary residence permits (TRP) for employment in Estonia. Starting in July 2023, all foreigners seeking to extend a TRP that was first issued after July 15, 2018, will need to provide evidence of proficiency in the Estonian language at the A2 level or higher.
This new language requirement will apply once a foreigner has lived in Estonia for 5 consecutive years under a TRP for employment. Upon renewal of the TRP after meeting this 5-year residency requirement, or when applying for a new TRP for work, the foreigner must submit an official Estonian language certificate at the A2 level to demonstrate their proficiency.
However, certain categories of TRP for employment are exempted from the new language requirement. They include renewals for:
- EU Blue Cards
- Intra-company transfers
- Scientific research and academic activities (researchers and other educational workers)
The language requirement aims to help foreigners better integrate into Estonian society and the local labour market. By mandating a minimum level of proficiency in the Estonian language, the government hopes that long-term foreign residents will be able to more fully contribute to and participate in the country’s social and economic life. The A2 level requirement strikes a balance between facilitating integration and setting an attainable goal for most foreign workers and their families residing in Estonia.
Most foreign nationals seeking to extend their stay in Estonia through employment will need to start learning Estonian to meet the new language requirement if they are yet to. But while the policy may seem challenging, it also underscores Estonia’s interest in cultivating a cohesive, linguistically integrated society. With adequate time to prepare, foreign residents should be able to achieve the necessary A2 level proficiency to continue living and working in Estonia long term.
Are you seeking to renew your temporary residence permit or that of your employees? Hedman law firm is here to help you seamlessly navigate the process.