Estonia: problems with residence permits

From: MINELRES moderator <>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 21:54:45 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: Estonia: problems with residence permits

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Elena Karzetskaja <>

Estonia: problems with residence permits

At the moment there is situation in Estonia when people have to stay
great queue to the Board on Citizenship and Migration (BCM) to submit
the application for a residence permit and alien's passport or to get
know information concerning readiness of appropriate documents. The
same situation was in 1994-1995 years, when a great amount of people
who have not been an Estonian citizens were forced again legalize
their position in Estonia and apply for a residence permit. Adoption
of the Law on Aliens in 1993 was cause of this action. The most of
applicants were issued temporary residence permits for term of 5
years, so deadline of replacement of temporary residence permit to
permanent permit is 2000-2001. Simultaneously there is a necessity to
renew the validity of the alien's passport. The crisis has been
predicted taking into account the situation of 1994-1995 years.
Estonian Government spoke repeatedly about it, giving the promise,
that there would not be superfluous bureaucracy. However, promises
have not been kept. Furthermore, the Estonian Government on 13
September, 1999 cancelled the opportunity of renewal of the passports.
Now foreigner should apply for the new "gray" passport. It was one
more aggravating aspect, which increased the number of applicants at
the doors of the BCM.
The Government of the Republic has been forced to undertake certain
steps to solve this problem. The first reaction to the situation was
the decision of the Minister of Interior Mr. Tarmo Loodus on 14th
January 2000 concerning dismissal of the General Director of the BCM
Mr. Andres Kollist.
It is necessary to note that the Estonian legislation was a cause of
such a situation and first of all, stipulations of the Law on Aliens.
In the same time, as of the opinion of the authorities, the cause was
a bad organization of the work within the BCM and ill-information of
population. The Minister on Nationalities, Mrs. Katrin Saks repeatedly
underlined in her statements related to this crisis that there is no
need in serious amendments to the Estonian legislation. However, the
statute of the BCM envisages the organization of the BCM activity on
the basis of laws, orders and decisions of the Government or the
Minister of Interior.
The following step was a decision of the Government N 29 from 2
February, 2000. Now a foreigner must not prove size of his/her legal
income for 6 months and presence of a residence in Estonia when
lodging an application for the permanent residence permit. It is
important to mention that the requirement to have such a legal income
and residency was not cancelled. Thus, if you apply for permanent
residence permit and the BCM comes to a conclusion that the size of
your income is insufficient (the size is defined by the Regulation of
the Government N 253 from 18 August, 1999), the proceeding of
application will be stopped. At the moment, the given requirement is
the main problem with regard to receiving the permanent residence
Unfortunately, this step of authorities has not solved a problem of
the queue, which hardly depends from an amount of documents that the
applicants have: the BCM simply cannot serve so many clients. The
largest problem in the nearest months, according to the opinion of
dismissed Mr. Kollist, will be the proceeding on the applications for
the permanent residence permits almost for 320.000 foreigners, as the
BCM can really serve no more than 20.000 persons per month. The better
remedy would be just to simplify the order of the application and
granting the permanent residence permits and alien's passports.
On 1 February, 2000 the Government of the Republic decided to take out
for discussion in the parliament a draft, which contains some
efficient proposals. The draft aimsd at prevention of repeating the
conflict, but, unfortunately, does not affect the present situation.
The Government has offered:
- to extend validity of the alien's passport up to 10 years.
Requirement to submit the application for the new alien's passport is
kept, so, the question remains opened. The best decision in present
situation would be automatic prolongation of validity of the passport;
- to transfer the competence to issue permission for applying for
temporary residence permit in the exceptional order to the Board on
Citizenship and Migration. At the present moment this function is
executed by the Minister of Interior. In opinion of the Government, it
will reduce the term of the proceeding of the application for
permission, but it is not related to the order of issuance of the
permanent residence permit or alien's passport.
- to grant the permanent residence permit to the minor children (till
15 years) whose parent is a holder of the permanent residence permit
or an Estonian citizen. Nowadays parents of these children should
apply to the BCM, as minimum, 2 times during a short period: to apply
for a temporary residence permit within the first year of life of a
child and in 5 years - for the permanent permit.
The question concerning informing the residents population was solved
as follows: now it is possible to check up readiness of the printed
alien's passport on the Web page of the BCM. It seems unclear how many
aliens have access to Internet and how to find out the readiness of
stamp of a residence permit for a foreign citizen residing in Estonia?
The offer to set up a telephone number, on which it would be possible
to receive this information, has not yet been put into practice.
It is possible to make conclusion that though the Government has
announced its intention to solve the problem, the real improvements
are still a question of future.
The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights
Nunne str 2, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia
Tel (+372 ) 64 64 27 0
Fax (+372) 64 64 272
Web site: Http://

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