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Asylum seeking in Estonia

Asylum seeking or seeking for international protection is legally quite a complex area with many confusing terms. The area is governed by Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens which can be found in English here:

A person enjoying international protection is an alien who has been recognized as asylum seeker, person enjoying subsidiary protection or person receiving temporary protection and to whom Estonian residence permit has been granted. Temporary protection is a rather exceptional situation (even in today's situation) so we will not touch upon it in this article.

1. A refugee is an alien who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, is outside the country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country and with regard to whom no circumstance exists precluding recognition as a refugee. Upon assessing persecution it does not matter whether the alien has a real basis for persecution specified in this subsection or only the circumstance of persecution.

2. A person eligible for subsidiary protection is an alien who does not qualify as a refugee and with regard to whom no circumstance exists which would preclude granting of subsidiary protection and in respect of whom substantial grounds have shown for believing that his or her return or expulsion to his or her country of origin may result in a serious risk in the specified country, including: 1) imposition or execution of death penalty on him or her, or 2) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of him or her, or 3) individual threat to his or her life or the lives of civilians or violence towards him or her or civilians by reason of international or internal armed conflict.

(4) Subsidiary protection status is the status granted to an alien who is recognised as a person eligible for subsidiary protection.

How these afore-mentioned circumstances are determined and proved is done case by case. In many cases the applicant cannot provide any hard or documented evidence. It is important how the objective situation in certain countries is publically determined and assessed. The process can also take time for the Police and Border Guard to make a decision - the proceedings can take up to 6 months.

The granted protection will give a right for employment and also the same protection can be granted for the family members. The asylum seeker will get a residence permit for up to 3 years which can be extended for another 3 years.

Should you have more question, do not hesitate to contact us at or the Police and Border Guard.

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