Estonia’s startup visa programme attracts applications from 29 countries

A new startup visa programme Estonia launched in January 2017 has in its first three months brought a total of 106 applications from 29 countries.

The startup visa programme, initiated by the local startup community and the Estonian ministry of interior, allows non-EU nationals to come and work for Estonian startups, relocate their existing startups or start new ones in Estonia on preferential terms.

In order to qualify for the startup visa, startups must fill out an application detailing their business and team, which will then be evaluated by a startup committee consisting of members of the Estonian startup community.

So far, the committee has given a positive evaluation on 39 applications, negative on 62 and is processing five. The majority of the applicants for the visa are nationals of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and India with the most successful applicants coming from Ukraine, Belarus and Turkey.

Regarding the visas for working at an Estonian startup, 42 applications have been submitted with the most successful being the nationals of Ukraine and the US. Additionally, there have also been applicants from countries such as Columbia, South Africa and the Philippines, to name a few, who are currently still in the wait for the decision on their application, Startup Estonia said in a statement.

Eager to start and grow their companies in Estonia

After a positive evaluation, the startups can proceed to applying for a visa or a permit at an Estonian embassy or the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, who is currently processing the first 44 applications from startup founders, eager to start and grow their companies in Estonia. However, as obtaining a living permit or a visa can take up to a few months, the majority of the applications is still being processed. Positive decisions have so far been made for the nationals of India and Ukraine.

Tomi Piriyev, a startup founder from Ukraine who was one of the first people to obtain a startup visa, said the launch of the programme could not have come at a better time for him. “I had been an e-resident of Estonia for some time already when I decided to come for a visit as well. After seeing first-hand how well the governmental (e-)services work and how easy it is to operate a company, I set out to relocate both myself and my startup to Estonia,” he said.

The terms and opportunities of the Startup Visa programme can be found in more detail on the Startup Estonia and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board websites.

Startup Estonia is a governmental initiative financed by the European Regional Development Fund, aimed at supercharging the Estonian startup ecosystem.


Cover: Tallinn skyline (the image is illustrative/courtesy of VisitEstonia.)

2 thoughts on “Estonia’s startup visa programme attracts applications from 29 countries”

  1. Hey Eesti! What’s your secret? You’ve done more in three months than Canada’s startup visa in three years!

    1. Efficient, digital processes. Intolerance of bureaucracy and hate of queuing. Rational approach to problem solving with the tradition of private-public partnerships. Finally, recognition of the importance of enterpreneurial people and hungry startups with a global view as a renewable natural resource and driver of the economy.

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