Why Does Italy’s Startup Visa Have a High Rejection Rate?

A few years ago, Italy’s visa statistics were known for clarity. The Italian government would publish reports every quarter with acceptance and rejection rates.

This has changed recently. 2020 comes with a drop in data shown. Regardless, there seems to be a trend visible from the years previous.

That would be a high rejection rate.

What are the Stats?

Since the program’s inception in 2015, Italy received 481 applications total. Of them, only 250 were approved (by 1/2020).

47 applications were withdrawn, with 184 rejections total. This leads to a 48% rate of non-approval.

Luckily, Italy’s’ Economic Development Ministry has commented on the causes, describing most rejections as weak businesses models.

That weakness accounts for 45% of rejections. Another 38% were cited to be caused by business projects lacking innovative value.

Rejection Rate by Nationality

The data shows a strong disparity in rejection rates, and based on nationality.

The main applicants to Italy’s startup program come from Pakistan, India, Egypt, Iran, and China.

The previous countries have a higher rejection rate than the average 48%. Those rates are:

  • Pakistan – 89%
  • India – 78%
  • Egypt – 67%
  • Iran – 64%
  • China – 56%

The rates for Pakistan are astonishing, where almost 9/10 applicants are rejected. Next in-line is the US (with a 36% rejection rate), and Russia (with 32%).

Alternatively, the countries with the highest approval rates are as follows:

  • Brazil – 83%
  • Ukraine – 81%
  • Japan – 80%

Thus far, the approved applications have led to the start of 40 new enterprises. Other applicants joined another 19 already established companies as part of the “existing innovative startups” branch.

The rest are still establishing their businesses, while being monitored by the government.

Are Investments Heading to the Intended Targets?

Not really. The majority of investments are centered in the Northern part of Italy, which already has a high investor influx.

A small portion of investments are going south, which seems to be the part of Italy that needs development the most.

Investor Reactions to Rejection Rates

Entrepreneurs don’t seem too discouraged about the high rejection rate. After all, the ISV Committee does allow many applicants to apply for the visa again.

As a result, there’s a significant number of repeat applications in Italy’s Startup program, accounting for 39 total (and with 442 single applications).

What’s even more odd is the change of priorities. Of Italy’s 250 successful applicants, around 27 decided to change their decision to move there.