From now on foreign startups wishing to relocate their innovative businesses to Lithuania, will be able to obtain, through the use of “Startup Visa” programme, a longer-term temporary residence permit for the duration of up to three years, announces "Startup Lithuania". So far, temporary residence permits in Lithuania have been issued to foreign start-ups for the duration of up to two years.
Under the Resolution of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania that was adopted in July of this year, a foreigner who intends to engage in legal activities related to the introduction of new technologies or other innovations that of significance for the economic and social development of Lithuania shall be issued with a temporary residence permit for the duration of one year, but can be extended twice for another year. Reassessments will be carried out by a special expert commission of “Startup Visa” programme that will look at whether a foreign start-up meets the qualification requirements of the programme, and the requirements for business financing and development opportunities.
“It is apparent from the practice that two years is often insufficient duration for a startup to accumulate financial resources, specifically the authorized capital and equity that are required in order to apply later for a traditional business visa and continue their activities in Lithuania. Extension of the term will allow a startup to be more focused on business development and continue activities in Lithuania after it will become better entrenched”, – says Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Minister of Economy and Innovation.
Roberta Rudokienė, the Head of “Startup Lithuania“, says that this change in law will significantly contribute to improving the business environment for startups and Lithuania’s competitiveness in the world in attracting foreign start-ups to our country.
“For some time now, the growing attractiveness of Lithuanian startup ecosystem on the international stage has been noticeable, and this decision will undoubtedly become a significant lever in choosing Lithuania as a favorable country for foreign startups outside the European Union to develop their business. In Latvia, for comparison, for some time now foreign start-ups may apply for a temporary residence permit for the duration of 3 years, and in Estonia, such a permit is issued for the duration of 5 years“, – tells the Head of “Startup Lithuania”.
It is noticeable that innovative companies from countries like Russia, Belarus, Turkey, and Ukraine express the greatest interest in obtaining a startup visa. “These countries are positive about the existing legal and tax system in Lithuania for the development of innovative businesses. But we also receive applications from such countries like South Korea, Australia, USA, and Canada. The startups of the latter countries have already successfully established their businesses in Lithuania”, – says R. Rudokienė.
Since 2017, the “Startup Visa” procedure is administered by the Start-up Ecosystem Development Unit “Startup Lithuania“ of Public Institution Enterprise Lithuania. The „Startup Visa“ programme, which already operates for the third year in Lithuania, every year attracts increasing interest. In the first half of 2019, the “Startup Visa” certificates were issued to 74 individuals, twice as many as in the same period last year when the certificates were issued to 31 persons. The certificate allows taking advantage of a simplified migration procedure for a temporary residence permit in Lithuania and later to establish business in the country.
Since the beginning of the programme, 28 foreign startups have already registered their activities in Lithuania, 9 of them have founded companies in 2019.