The amount of Startup Visa applicants increased more than twice


The Startup Visa programme turns two years old today. Last year, 483 employees and 174 startup founders applied for a visa, which is more than twice as many compared to 2017. Most of the Startup Visa applications came from and were granted to India, Russia and Turkey.

The Startup Visa, which was created as a result of cooperation between the local startup community, Ministry of the Interior and Startup Estonia, allows citizens of countries outside of the European Union to work for local startups, move existing startups here or establish new ones in Estonia.

Most relocations to Estonia have been from Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, the USA and India. Since the establishment of Startup Visa, 931 people have moved here within the framework of the programme or received a right for it.

According to the head of Startup Estonia Maarika Truu, the success of the visa programme shows that Estonian startups have a clear need for new employees. "Considering that 2018 was a record year in terms of investments made in startups, it is evident that this money is mostly used for the creation of new, high added-value jobs. It should be emphasised that the need is not only for IT developers – the fast growing startups also need marketing specialists, sales talents, customer support people, designers, etc. Therefore, the impact of these investments is clearly more broad-based.”

According to the president of Estonian Startup Leaders Club Sten Tamkivi, the Estonian technology sector is at its peak of development. "The number of employees at startups grew over 5,000 in 2018 and it can be estimated that this increase will continue similarly to previous years and 30% growth can be expected. Startup Visa has obviously mitigated the need for startups with great growth potential to find new talented employees."

Company founders and employees can apply for the Startup Visa if the company has reached the level of startup which is decided by the startup committee, consisting of seven members of the Estonian startup community organisation. More than 1,110 companies from more than 80 countries have applied for startup status in the past two years and 411 companies have been granted the right to apply for a Startup Visa.

According to Merilin Lukk, the person responsible for the visa programme of Startup Estonia, there was close cooperation last year with the founders of startups in order to set a new development target for the visa programme.
"We will also continue to visit those countries this year in which the Startup Visa has sparked a lot of interest. At the same time, we contribute to the support of those people who have already moved to Estonia. The aim is to work together with the service providers of the public and private sector so that the offered opportunities will be more useful for the people moving here. The objective of 2019 is to grow the amount of people moving to Estonia to 1,000 people per year. Local support and cooperation with the public and private sector service providers is very important for this," noted Lukk.