The ‘Our People’ Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) allocated a total of approx. 75,000 euros in assistance to 97 people of Estonian origin returning to the country in 2013.
MISA has been supporting the return of ethnic Estonians and Estonian citizens from abroad to their home country since 1992. Needs-based assistance is also received through MISA by third country nationals who wish to waive their Estonian residence permit, leave Estonia and return to their home country.
MISA provides both those returning and those leaving with advisory services without charge and, according to Martin Eber, the Coordinator of its Civic Education and Migration Unit, the number of those who wish to return to Estonia as well as those who have received assistance has been constantly increasing in recent years.
“In 2012 we granted return assistance to 91 people, while 36 third country nationals received assistance to leave Estonia,” Eber explained. “Last year return assistance was allocated to 97 people, and a further 36 third country nationals left the country with the help of the assistance.”
The migration assistance provided by MISA can be applied for by people who have been away from Estonia for at least 10 years. The maximum amount payable to returnees is 2,000 euros, and this can be applied for up to six months after returning. The maximum amount of assistance paid to those leaving the country is 1,000 euros.
“In the last couple of years the largest number of people returning to Estonia have come from the United States and Russia, but the number of returnees from Ukraine and Kazakhstan is also worth mentioning,” Eber said. “People are also coming back from other EU Member States and elsewhere. In 2013, the largest number of returnees came from Russia (30 people) and the USA (24). 12 people came back from Ireland and five ethnic Estonians came from Uzbekistan.”
Most of the returnees who received assistance from MISA were younger working-age people with children. The number of minors who came back to Estonia with their parents was 32. People who waived their Estonian residence permit and settled elsewhere were mostly between 56 and 75 years of age (25 people) and the country where the largest number (32 people) settled was Russia.
“We can’t say, of course, that the data describe the overall trends in migration in Estonia, since we can only talk about those who qualify for our assistance, but year by year we’ve more and more reason to be glad, since following their return to Estonia we can help working-age families who come here with their children,” Eber said.
The return of Estonians and Estonian citizens who have been away from the country for a long time or who were born abroad as well as third country nationals to their homelands has been supported since 1992. Assistance can be applied for by ethnic Estonians who have Estonian citizenship or an Estonian residence permit, who emigrated from Estonia at least 10 years ago or who were born in a foreign country and require assistance to come (back) to Estonia due to their financial and social status. Assistance in leaving Estonia for a third country of up to 1,000 euros can be applied for by third country nationals and people of undefined citizenship who have been living in Estonia for at least 10 years and who have a valid travel or other document allowing them to return. A re-migrant must assume a written obligation to leave Estonia and their residence permit must be revoked. Non-Estonian citizens who wish to leave must be released from Estonian citizenship pursuant to a decision of the Government of the Republic.
In 2014, assistance will also be granted from the state budget through the Ministry of Culture on a needs basis, i.e. taking into account financial and social status. Over the years MISA has supported the return of approx. 26,000 people to their home countries and approx. 1,900 ethnic Estonians or Estonian citizens to Estonia.
For further information please contact Martin Eber, Coordinator, Civic Education and Migration Unit, MISA / Telephone: +372 659 9067 / E-mail: [email protected]
In January the NGO ‘Kodanikukoolitus’ (Civil Training Centre) and the Narva College of the University of Tartu started new preparatory courses for the citizenship eamination which are free of charge. The courses are being held in Tallinn and Ida-Viru County.
The courses are aimed at people with undefined citizenship and European third country nationals. “To obtain citizenship you must pass two examinations: an Estonian language examination and an examination testing your knowledge of Estonian law,” the training centre’s notice explains. “In this case only a course on knowledge of the law will take place; no Estonian language courses will be given.”
The free courses provide an overview of the laws applicants must be familiar with and introduce the history and symbols of the Estonian state. Participants can also take trial exams. Each student is given a free Estonian-Russian dictionary designed for applicants for citizenship, a personal copy of the Constitution and Citizenship Act of the Republic of Estonia and an exercise book with preparatory questions for the exam. The materials are in Estonian; the courses are held in Estonian and Russian.
The support of the ‘Our People’ Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) will enable 600 people to take part in the free courses in 2014.
The organisation of the courses is being financed from the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals and from the state budget via the Ministry of Culture and MISA.
For further information about the courses and registration see here!
For further information please contact Kristi Anniste, Coordinator, Civic Education and Migration Unit, MISA / Telephone: 0372 659 9062 / E-mail: [email protected]
The ‘Our People’ Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) will provide approx. 3.4 million euros in support for a variety of integration projects and activities in 2014.
“We’ll be allocating more than three million euros in support of integration projects and for the implementation of integration activities this year,” said Eda Silberg, Director of Administration of MISA. “As before, we’ll be supporting
Estonian language studies and financing information projects, activities supporting people who want to obtain Estonian citizenship, youth language camps and more. This year we’ll have the opportunity to support and implement integration activities through the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Research, the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals and the European Social Fund.”
According to Silberg, the details of certain activities are still being finalised with financiers, but the schedule of project competitions will be made public to those interested on the website of MISA in March.
“We’re doing what we do with the aim of ensuring that the people who live in Estonia share the same values and form an active part of civic society,” Silberg explained. “In order for the ethnic groups living in Estonia to have equal opportunities to preserve their native languages and cultures, we’re continuing to support the activities of national culture societies and of the Sunday schools operating as part of societies. We’re also continuing to provide free preparatory courses for the citizenship exam, as well as opportunities for Estonian language studies.”
MISA was founded on 31 March 1998 as the ‘Non-Estonians Integration Foundation’. It was renamed the ‘Our People’ Integration and Migration Foundation in 2010. Its areas of activity include organising and supporting activities
in the fields of education, culture, media, migration and life-long learning. For further information about these activities, visit the foundation’s website at www.meis.ee.
For further information please contact Eda Silberg, Director of Administration, MISA / Telephone: +372 659 9038 / E-mail: [email protected]