A total of 106 startup companies from 29 countries have filed an application for an Estonian startup visa, which was introduced on Jan. 18 this year to facilitate the relocation of startups from third countries and their hiring of employees in Estonia.
Riivo Riistop, project manager for the Startup Estonia visa project, said that interest in the visas has surprassed the expectations they had when the program was launched. "It's good to see that interest has emerged largely organically via Estonians and recommendations from friends in Estonia," he said.
According to Riistop, the expert committee handling the applications has given a positive response to 39 applications and a negative response to 62 applications, with 5 applications currently still being processed.
"The countries from which the biggest numbers of candidates come are Ukraine, India, Russia, Belarus and Turkey," he noted. "Candidates from Ukraine, Belarus and Turkey have proven the most successful."
Tomi Piriyev from Ukraine, one of the first persons issued a startup visa for business, said that the opportunity to relocate his business to Estonia came at the right time. "I had been an e-resident for some time when I came here to look what things are actually like in Estonia," he explained. "After seeing how well public services function here and how easy it is to engage in business, I wanted to relocate my company to Estonia physically too. For me, the startup visa initiative came exactly at the right time."
Avijit Sarkar, an entrepreneur from India, said that thus far he has had only positive experiences with Estonia. He specifically highlighted the warmth of the people, good infrastructure and positive attitude toward English-speakers in Tallinn and Tartu.
Sarkar's company develops mobile and online apps for event-booking, catering and entertainment for the European market.
Applications for a visa or residence permit for employment at a startup in Estonia have been filed by 42 people; the biggest numbers of positive responses have been given to Ukrainian and U.S. nationals. Applications still awaiting a final answer have also been filed, for instance, by people based in Colombia, South Africa and the Philippines.
In order to obtain a visa or residence permit under simplified rules, a company must describe its business model and team to an expert panel consisting of members of the Estonian startup community tasked with making the decision.
Editor: Aili Vahtla