Estonian Start-Up Visa

Overview

This visa route is for foreign entrepreneurs residing outside of the EEA. It allows you to enter Estonia for the purpose of setting up a technology based start-up business. This route does lead to Permanent Residence (PR) and Estonian citizenship if desired.

Eligibility

You will need to prove that you will be able to set up a start-up company registered in Estonia:

1. with global growth potential;
2. that is innovative and replicable; and
3. which shall significantly contribute to the development of the Estonian business environment (Section 62(4) Aliens Act).

There is no requirement for you to show evidence of business funds or provide a formal business plan (Section 192(2)(1)(2), 192(3)(1) & 192(6)(1) Section Aliens Act).

Whilst not formally acknowledged in the legislation, the business must produce a product or provide a service which utilises cutting edge technology at some stage of the business i.e. in developing the product or in delivering the service.

You will need to submit an application to the Estonian Startup Committee (“the Startup Committee”) in order to apply (Section 16(3) & 16(4) Procedure for Application for Temporary Residence Permit and its Extension and Long-Term Resident’s Residence Permit and Its Restoration and Rates of Legal Income). The application requires you to enter information about the business profile, team, product/service you intend to provide, the intended market and strategy for the product/service. Once approved, you will receive an expert committee opinion that you will have to submit with your application.

You will also need to prove that you have sufficient legal income and comprehensive health insurance for yourself and any dependents (Section 117(3) & 117(4)). The subsistence level for you as the main applicant will be €150 per month, the subsistence level for each minor family member (i.e. a child under the age of 18) is €180 per month and the subsistence level for each subsequent adult member of your family (i.e. your spouse/civil partner) is €120 per month.

Application Process

There are three different ways in which you can apply for a “Start-up Visa”, you can either:

· apply directly for a residence permit (this route is for applicants who have already set up their start-up business in Estonia prior to submitting their application). This residence permit is granted for a period of 1-5 years and can be extended; or
· apply for a short-term Schengen Visa, which would allow you to travel to Estonia for a period of 90 days the purpose of setting up your start-up business. Prior to the expiry of the 90 day period you would then apply for the residence permit in-country; or
· apply for a long-term visa, which would allow you to travel to Estonia for a period of 12 months for the purpose of setting up your business. Prior to the expiry of the 12-month period, you would then apply for the residence permit in-country.

If You are Applying for a Temporary Residence Permit

STEP 1 – Set up a company in Estonia and set up an Estonian company bank account online (if you have not done so already).

STEP 2 – Complete and submit your application to the Startup Committee. The Startup Committee will review the application and make a decision within 10 working days. If successful, you will receive a verification letter with a unique application code which you will require for the visa application.

STEP 3 – Schedule an appointment at the Estonian embassy or consulate in your country of origin.

STEP 3 – Attend your appointment and submit your application for a temporary residence permit, along with your supporting documents and your unique code from the Startup Committee.

STEP 4 – Receive your residence permit and travel to Estonia.

If You are Applying for a Short-Term (Schengen) Visa

STEP 1 – Complete the Schengen Visa (C) application form and submit your visa application online and gather your supporting documents.

STEP 2 – Schedule an appointment with your local Estonian embassy or consulate online.

STEP 3 – Attend your appointment and submit your supporting documents.

STEP 4 – Receive your 90 day visa and travel to Estonia.

If You are Applying for a Long-Term (National) Visa

STEP 1 – Complete the Long-Stay (D) Visa form and gather your supporting documents.

STEP 2 – Schedule an appointment with your local Estonian embassy or consulate.

STEP 3 – Attend your appointment and submit your application and supporting documents.

STEP 4 – Receive your Long Stay Visa and travel to Estonia.

Documents You Will Need

If You are Applying for the Temporary Residence Permit

You will need to provide the following documents for the temporary residence permit application:

· a completed temporary residence permit application;
· 1 colour photo (40 x 50mm);
· a document certifying payment of the application fee;
· passport or other travel identity document;
· copy of the Startup Committee opinion;
· bank statements showing that you have sufficient legal income;
· evidence regarding your planned accommodation in Estonia; and
· a medical insurance policy with coverage of at least €30,000.

If you are Applying for the Short-Term (Schengen) Visa or Long-Term (National Visa)

· a completed Schengen Visa (C) application form/Long-Stay (D) Visa form;
· 1 colour photograph (40 x 50mm);
· passport or other travel identity document;
· copy of the Startup Committee opinion;
· return flight tickets;
· a medical insurance policy with coverage for your period of stay of at least €30,000;
· evidence of your planned accommodation in Estonia;
· evidence of sufficient means of subsistence for you and your dependents.

Can I bring my family members?

Yes, your spouse or minor child (aged under 18) may apply at the same time as you and receive a visa on the same terms (Section 64(4)(3) & 64(4)(4) Aliens Act).

Pathway to Citizenship

STAGE 1 – If you have applied for the Short-Term or Long-Term Visas (see above) you will need to apply for the residence permit in-country before the end of the 90 day/12 month term.

STAGE 2 – If your initial temporary residence permit was granted for a period of less than 5 years then you will need to apply for an extension (it is recommended that you do this at least 2 months before the end of your current residence permit term). An extension will be granted so long as you continue to comply with the criteria set out for the grant of the initial residence permit (Section 122 Aliens Act).

STAGE 3 – After you have resided in Estonia for 5 years on a temporary residence permit, you may apply for permanent residence (PR) (Section 232(1) Aliens Act). To be eligible for PR, you will have to continue to comply with the criteria for the grant of the residence permit and meet the required maintenance levels for you and your dependents (discussed above). You will also need to have knowledge of the Estonian language at least at level B1 (Section 234 (1) Aliens Act).
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STAGE 4 – After 5 years with PR, you can apply for Estonian citizenship. In addition to the requirement for PR (above), you will need to provide a certificate on passing the examination on the knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act (Section 6 Citizenship Act). You may not hold dual citizenship (Section 1(2) Citizenship Act), so you will have to renounce any other citizenship upon applying.

N.B. You must be 15 years of age to apply for Estonian citizenship (Section 6(1) Citizenship Act).

The extension applications and PR application for your spouse and children may be processed at the same time which you process your applications for the same.

Visa Fees

Main Applicant

· The fee for a temporary resident permit is €190 (when applying out of country) and €160 (when applying in country).
· The fee for an extension of a temporary residence permit is €64.
· The fee for a long term visa is €100.
· The fee for a short-term (Schengen) visa is €80.
· The fee for applying for Estonian citizenship is €13.

Spouse

· The fee for a temporary resident permit is €95 (if applying out of country) and €64 (if applying in country)
· The fee for extension of a temporary residence permit is €64
· The fee for a long term visa is €100
· The fee for a short-term (Schengen) visa is €80
· The fee for applying for PR is €64
· The fee for applying for Estonian citizenship is €13.

Child

· The fee for a temporary resident permit is €95 (if applying out of country) and €64 (if applying in country)
· The fee for extension of a temporary residence permit is €24
· The fee for a long-term visa is €40 for a child between 6-11 years of age.
· The fee for a short-term (Schengen) visa is €40 for a child between 6-11 years of age.
· The fee for applying for PR is €24 for a child under the age of 15.

I have done a separate note on the rules for the Estonian start-up visa.

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