Estonia can admit no more foreign workers

The Police and Border Guard Board predicts that the foreign labor quota will be met next week and all other applicants will have to be turned back before the year is half over. On the other hand, enterprises have started to develop illegal schemes for the sake of cheap labor.

“We have no other option but to reject residence permit applications”, said Liis Valk, chief expert of the Police and Border Guard Board identity and status office.

Just as last year, the labor migration quota in 2017 is 1,317 individuals or 0.1 percent of Estonia's permanent residents. This quota was met for the first time in history last December and dozens of applicants had to wait for the next year. The Board therefore predicted that the quota would be met this year as well.

“Labor migration has increased even more than we could foresee”, Valk admitted.

The Police and Border Guard Board has already issued some 900 residence permits for workers and over 300 applications are being processed. Predominantly skilled laborers are applying; construction and factory workers and seamstresses.

“The quota will probably be met next week by the applications currently being processed. Therefore there is no point in submitting further applications”, the chief expert said.

There is no quick relief to the situation. “Whatever the solution will be, it cannot happen quickly, since it would require amending the Aliens Act. This is a policy decision”, Valk said.

There is the opportunity of registering foreign workers for a short period. Short-term work (up to nine months per year) is not regulated by the quota. “This solution is only for those who have not used the option before. Generally employers use the short-term work option first and then start applying for residence permit (for the worker)” Valk added.

A scheme has begun to spread in Estonia recently for evading both the quota and any registration for work. “Enterprises have emerged, which try to avoid paying the required wages”, said Indrek Aru, head of the Northern Prefecture's border and migration monitoring service.

In order to protect Estonia's labor market, an alien registered for short-term work has to be paid at least Estonia's average salary (average gross salary is currently more than 1,100 euros). There are also qualification standards. But Ukrainians, Moldovans and Belarussians are sometimes willing to work here seven days a week for 300-7000 euros.

“People are hired in some other EU country, for example Poland, and then apparently sent to work in Estonia, while they are paid according to other country's rules”, Aru explained.

For example, according to documents a Ukrainian has a contract with a Polish enterprise, but he is sent to work at a construction site in Estonia the same day.

“As I asked him he said something like “I have never worked in Poland, I had no idea about a contract with a Polish firm. They told me that I would work in Estonia””, Aru described the scheme for evading the payment of the required salary. Moreover, the state loses tax revenue-

“This is the most worrying aspect, since we essentially do not know, who work in our country”, the official added.

There is an especially remarkable case, when one person brought more than 260 aliens to Estonia through Poland. This amounts to one fifth of the immigration quota. “I dare say that there may be some thousand individuals, who have been brought here that way, but making such estimates is a thankless job. We have identified some 400 aliens, who have entered using that scheme”, Aru said.

The firms are caught generally during raids of the Police and Border Guard Board, Tax and Customs Board and the Labor Inspectorate.

The number of violations involving foreign labor is generally on the rise. While the Police and Border Guard Board had some 40 cases concerning the violation of working conditions in five months of last year, this year's number has reached 140 during the same time. “We do not yet know what this year will bring”, Aru admitted.

Valk added that many people have probably noticed foreign workers at construction sites, but not all these people are in Estonia illegally. “The registration of short-term labor has steeply increased as well”, she said.

The quota regulates business and labor migration from the third countries. Investors, start-up entrepreneurs and other staff of the information and communication technology sphere were recently exempted from the quota. The quota does not concern US and Japanese citizens or aliens entering to live with a spouse or a close relative, who enter Estonia to study or engage in scientific research. The quota does not concern refugees either.

Read other news on the city site of Tallin.

postimees
migration police borderguardboard workers
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Politics
Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Society
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
Society
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
Society
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
Society
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
Society
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Society
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Society
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
Society
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...