Estonian Startup Visa Programme
The main objective is to help develop Estonian startup ecosystem by growing the number of startups and fuel the growth of our startups. US has witnessed that the majority of unicorn companies were founded by expats. Estonia is a good place for early stage startups and with the number of startups growing and new funds entering the market, eventually also a place for scaling. Startups need to have access to best talent already in their early days. There are some 3-8k vacancies in the ICT sector. Though more and more students choose ICT, our universities cannot keep up with the growing demand. Therefore, immigration is part of the answer.

Resources needed

1 project manager in Startup Estonia administering the programme and an assistant helping with inquiries from (potential) candidates. Financial resources are concerned with their salaries and secondly keeping the online application portal up and running (also adding new functionalities).

Evidence of success

With the date of Aug 21, 2018:
- 694 companies with founder from 67 different nationalities have applied for the visa;
- 347 employees and 184 founders from outside of EU have relocated to Estonia or have been granted the right to do so.

Potential for learning or transfer

Think about soft-landing - with Startup Visa program we opened Estonia up for foreign talent (either founders or employees). We believe the process is less-burdensome for the applicant, but they need support for settling in. Currently, our team doesn’t have the manpower to offer a kind of a soft-landing.
Go through the customer journey – from first contact to when the person is physically in your country. There can be bottlenecks down the road that are hard to foresee without running an experiment
Plan with buffer for scaling – currently we are close to reaching the maximum with our Startup Committee. Startup Committee gets 5-10 applications a week, should the amount double, we wouldn’t be making the evaluation deadlines of 10 working days anymore. Although this is a positive problem, we need to reform the process before reaching that point.
Main institution
Startup Estonia
Eesti, Estonia (Eesti)
Start Date
January 2017
End Date


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