Freshest News About Startup Visa


2022 has been quite a ride so far. We have been working on new markets and are preparing for the launch of a new visa programme. 2021 was a success but how has 2022 worked out for us?

Everything starts with the Startup Status*. What is it? Well, in Estonia a startup needs a special assessment from the Startup Committee*.  

In 2022 first two quarters 363 startups applied for the Startup Status, and 115 of them were successful. This results in a 32% success rate. Startup Committee is strict but take it as a validation to the startup! Successful candidates get a unique code which is valid for 5 years and give special conditions for founders and employees pursuing a visa or a temporary residency permit.

Startup Visa has been an important tool for startups to enable growth and has been used more and more frequently, as the startups grow. Only in 2022 657 employees were recruited with the help of the Startup Visa and since the beginning of the Startup Visa programme, over 3800 visas and temporary residency permits were granted to startup employees.

Non-European founders have also been accessing our impressive startup ecosystem with the help of Startup Visa - 76 of them in 2022 first two quarters, bringing the total number of founders that have used our programme since 2017 to 944! I am pretty confident we can reach 1000 founders by the end of the year! ;)

All that summed up, we are glad to say that the Startup Visa programme has been doing extremely well - every euro invested into the programme has returned by 25 times.

Scale-up Visa

As mentioned in our previous blog post, we have been working on something quite exciting! In January 2023 we will be launching a new visa programme called scale-up visa and thus Estonia becomes one of the first ones in the world to launch such a measure. Designed for those fast-growing companies that meet the startup definition but are over the age of 10 and thus no longer qualify for the Startup Visa programme, can keep recruiting outside the EU quota-free.

Starting in January, scale-ups that meet the following criteria are welcome to come to us and get the validation, similar to the Startup Visa application process.

Requirements for scale-up visa eligibility:

  1. 1M EUR worth of employment taxes paid in the last year
  2. Employment taxes cumulative growth in the last three years is at least 20%
  3. At least 50 employees.


Thinking back on the last months, we have also been quite a bit on the road outside of Estonia and in Estonia. At the beginning of the year Startup Estonia together with e-Residency was on a roadshow in Brazil where we hosted together multiple events introducing the Startup Visa programme and our sister programme you may have heard of - e-Residency. In May we hosted a Global Founders Meetup (by the way, we host regularly and always share also on our Facebook page) as an official side event to Latitude59. After that we headed off to London and with our extended family Work Estonia, Invest Estonia and e-Residency we took part in the London Tech Week. In September we took part in sTARTUp Day and ticked off the first startup community meetup meshed together with our international founders. Finally, only a few weeks ago we visited the SA Innovation Summit in Capetown, where we also hosted our own event to introduce our Startup Visa program as well as Estonia itself. During the event, we talked about our local startup ecosystem and our founder's and Startup Visa users' experience. The startup ecosystem in Capetown is one the most mature ecosystems in the whole of Africa, but many startups still face multitudes of problems and are therefore looking for other countries to expand to.

The year is not over yet. Startup Visa can be seen still this year in Websummit and Slush! Come and meet us and find out how to kickstart your Startup Visa process!

Until then ;)

By Annika Järs, Startup Visa and Foreign Relations Development Manager at Startup Estonia 

Startup committee* - consists of 7 organisations: Startup Estonia, Garage48 Foundation, Superangel VC, Tehnopol, Estonian Founders Society, Startup Wise Guys, and Estonian Business Angels Network.

Startup Status* - a special status, which gives the eligibility for a company’s founders and employees to apply for the D-visa or temporary residence permit.


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