Family migration

Teet was sailing with his friends in Malta; I had travelled there through a training programme for teachers in order to improve my English. The weather was wonderful, so immediately after the classes, I rushed to the beach to enjoy the sun and the sea. I don’t even know, really, how it all happened. Amor himself must have been flying around in the air. Later on, Teet invited me to Estonia. I came, I saw and he conquered. Gaby from Argentina   


  • Family migration means reunification with the family, entering the country with the purpose of creating a family or migrating with the whole family from one country to another in order to preserve the family life.
  • A third-country national is any person who is not a citizen of the European Union (except the citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland).
  • A residence permit is any authorisation issued by the authorities of an EU Member State allowing a third country national to stay legally in its territory. (Council Regulation No 1030/2002/EC)  

In 2017, member states of the European Union issued 829 922 first-time temporary residence permits for family migration. This amounted to 26,5% of the overall immigration. Germany issued the highest number of such permits (156 973), mostly to Syrian citizens (38 661).

A foreign national who wants to settle in Estonia on the basis of family migration can apply for a residence permit for settling with a spouse or close relative already residing in Estonia.  Eligible close relatives are specified in the Aliens Act, e.g., minor children settling with a parent, or parents/grandparents who are in need of care. Family life must not be fictitious; the family must share a dwelling and its income, and must be covered by health insurance.

Family migration was the second most frequently cited reason for settling in Estonia, accounting for approximately 30% of the overall immigration in 2017.

The application of a third-country national who wants to reunify with a family member in Estonia – either a third-country national or an Estonian citizen – is processed according to the Aliens Act. The application of an EU citizen whose family member is a third-country national,  however, is processed according to the European Union citizenship law.


Seotud materjalid

  • Family reunification of third-country nationals in the EU plus Norway: national practices