Ability of a Russian-born holder of a USSR passport, who resided in and left Estonia in 1992 (one year following independence) to return to and reside in Estonia; procedures for returning to and establishing residency in Estonia; entitlement to obtain work while establishing residency (2006) [EST100892.E]

Estonian Citizenship

The following information is based on a telephone interview conducted on 3 January 2006 with the Head of Mission at the Estonian Embassy in Ottawa:

When Estonia gained its independence in 1991, residents were given the option of applying for Estonian citizenship. Those residents who were born in Estonia before 1940, or those whose parents had Estonian citizenship before 1940, qualified automatically for Estonian citizenship. If someone born in Russia applied for Estonian citizenship, they would have had to pass an Estonian language test and an exam on the country's Constitution and Citizenship Act. If a person did not qualify for Estonian citizenship, or did not apply for citizenship, they would have been able to receive a green passport. The green passport, also referred to as an "alien" passport, permits the holder to travel freely; however the holder is considered to be without citizenship.

According to the Head of Mission of the Estonian Embassy of Ottawa, in the early 1990s, the Russian government may have discouraged holders of green passports from applying for Russian citizenship, while stating that the government of Estonia would eventually grant citizenship to all those who held "alien" passports. However, if an application has not been made for Estonian citizenship by a Russian-born USSR passport holder, then this person is still considered "alien" today. This person would have to apply for residency in the same manner as any other "alien."

Procedures to Return to Estonia and Establish Residency

Please refer to the attached documents for information regarding procedures to return to Estonia and establish residency, and regarding the rights (i.e., ability to work) available while establishing residency. Additional information regarding this topic and regarding procedures for applying for Estonian citizenship can be accessed through the Estonian government's Citizenship and Migration Board Internet site at http://www.mig.ee/eng.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Estonia. 3 January 2006. Estonian Embassy, Ottawa. Telephone interview with the Head of Mission.

Estonia. N.d. Citizenship and Migration Board Website. http://www.mig.ee/eng/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]


Estonia. N.d.a. Citizenship and Migration Board. "Alien's Passport: Terms." http://www.mig.ee/eng/identity_documents/A_passport/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]

Estonia. N.d.b. Citizenship and Migration Board. "Application for Estonian Citizenship: Terms." http://www.mig.ee/eng/citizenship/citizenship/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]

Estonia. N.d.c. Citizenship and Migration Board. "Permanent Residence Permit: Terms." http://www.mig.ee/eng/residence/permanent/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]

Estonia. N.d.d. Citizenship and Migration Board. "Temporary Residence Permit for Employment: Terms." http://www.mig.ee/eng/residence/employment/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]

Estonia. N.d.e. Citizenship and Migration Board. "Work Permit for an Alien Who Stays in Estonia on the Basis of a Temporary Residence Permit: Terms." http://www.mig.ee/eng/work/work_permit/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2006]

Associated documents