International students and issues with residence permits/visas at the time of studying abroad
1. EU students, i.e. citizens of EU countries or persons with permanent right of residence in an EU country
If you go to study abroad in the framework of student exchange, the procedure you should follow depends on the destination country:
a) if you go to study in an EU country, ask your receiving university regarding the registering of your right of residence as soon as you have started your studies. If the receiving university has sent you guidelines, follow these;
b) if you go to study in a non-EU country, ask for visa and/or residence permit information from the representation of the corresponding country in Estonia or in your home country. Do that early enough before the beginning of studies. If the receiving university has sent you guidelines, follow these.
2. Non-EU students, i.e. persons having residence permit for study in Estonia
Right after you have received the letter of admission from the receiving university, contact the representation of the corresponding country in Estonia or in your home country to get information regarding visa and/or residence permit. You should also consult the receiving university and if the receiving university sends you guidelines, follow these.
2.1. Students whose Estonian residence permit remains valid throughout the period of studying abroad
If you go to study abroad for a longer period than 183 days in one year, you have to register your staying away from Estonia with the Police and Border Guard Board. Staying away can be registered only onwards.
If you have registered your staying away from Estonia, then the time of your staying away from Estonia shall be calculated into your permanent residence time in Estonia.
Upon registration of the staying away from Estonia or upon submission of an application for considering the staying away to be justified you must certify the reason and circumstances for your staying away. To prove that they are staying away from Estonia for study, the students of the University of Tartu can use the letter of admission of the university abroad.
2.2. Students whose Estonian residence permit ends during studies abroad
It has been agreed with the Estonian Police and Border Guard that it is not needed to have the Estonian temporary residence permit for study during ones study abroad period, regardless whether the study abroad destination country is within or outside EU. This was confirmed at the beginning of June, 2016.
However, all students who do not have the Estonian residence permit their study abroad period need to check that once they have completed the studies abroad, they have valid grounds to enter and continue studying in Estonia. There are two main groups of students:
- The students who do not need visa/residence permit to enter Estonia can return and apply for the residence permit locally. There is no need to apply abroad.
- The students who need visa /residence permit to enter Estonia either (1) have to apply for the Estonian residence permit while they are abroad (in the country where they stay during study abroad (if possible), in their home country or in any other country where the Estonian embassies are located) or (2) apply for the Estonian residence permit after returning to Estonia. The latter is possible if the residence permit/visa of a particular foreign country (other EU member state) allows entering Estonia and is valid throughout the period needed for applying for the Estonian residence permit.
Those students who know in advance that they would like to come to Estonia during their study abroad period and need a visa/residence permit to enter Estonia, should hold the Estonian residence permit throughout their study abroad period.