Startup and entrepreneur visas around the world

14 Sep 20 ~ 11 min read

The world has been observing whatโ€™s happening in Silicon Valley, and as a result countries are trying to make it attractive for startups to be based within their shores, especially in light of US visa hurdles.

This is a list of countries offering startup visas, programs and special economic zones directly targeted at attracting startups and entrepreneurs.

Immigration rules are subject to change, so I'll try and keep this up to date as much as possible.

Disclaimer: Do not use this as official legal, immigration, or tax advice. Before choosing a structure for your business, including where to establish your base, seek the help of a certified professional. There's a ton of nuance involved in migrating to another country, so use this as a resource to guide you, then inform yourself with the relevant, official authorities.

Last updated: September 2020

Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ

Australia

Name: Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Subclass 188 (Entrepreneur Stream)

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 4 years and 3 months

Family can join: Yes

High level process

Australia is a notoriously hard country to migrate to. In a nutshell you have to:

  • Register an expression of interest (EOI) to apply - which is a process where the government can assess if you're even eligible to apply for immigration
  • Be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government agency
  • Get a funding agreement of at least A$200,000
  • Get a business plan approved

If the business does well it can lead to a permanent visa.

Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

Canada

Name: Start-up Visa Program

Visa type: Permanent

Visa duration: ---

Family can join: Yes

High level process

Get investment or sponsored by a designated organisation, which involves receiving either at least C$75,000 via angel investment, or at least C$200,000 from a VC. This leads to a letter of support, which you can then use to migrate.

Cayman Islands ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡พ

Cayman Islands

Name: Cayman Enterprise City (CEC)

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: 5 years (renewable)

Family can join: Yes

CEC is a free zone. A free zone is a special economic zone within a country, usually designed to attract businesses either via tax benefits or other incentives.

High level process

You submit all relevant forms to the free zone and if successful, you pay the fees, wait for your visas to be issued and that's it:

  • 100% exemption from income tax
  • 100% exemption from corporate tax
  • 100% exemption from capital gains tax
  • 100% foreign ownership permitted
  • 100% exemption from import duties
  • Five year residency granted for employees and their dependents

This isn't the typical Cayman offshore company you hear about, usually frowned upon within the international community. This is a company within a free zone, where you will have to physically reside.

Chile ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ

Chile

Name: Start-Up Chile

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: 1 year

Family can join: No

This is a startup accelerator created by the Chilean government.

High level process

You apply to the accelerator program and if successful, you receive $18,000 - $80,000 equity free investment, depending on the exact stream you choose.

As part of the process you require a recommendation letter, which can be from a mentor, a fellow entrepreneur, a teacher, or a colleague.

Armed with the acceptance to the program and the recommendation letter, you apply for a temporary residence visa, which lasts for the duration of the program.

Denmark ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ

Denmark

Name: Start-up Denmark

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 5 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You have to submit a business plan which is reviewed by a panel. If approved you can then apply for the visa, then launch your startup in Denmark.

Estonia ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช

Estonia

Name: Startup Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 5 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You have to fill in an online qualification form, giving as much information as possible. A startup committee will evaluate you, and if successful, you can apply for the visa.

Finland ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ

Finland

Name: Startup Permit

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: No

This is for 2 founders.

High level process

You will need an Eligibility Statement from Business Finland, who will evaluate your business plan. With that you apply to Finnish Immigration Service.

France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

France

Name: French Tech Visa (for Founders)

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 4 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You will need to be accepted into an accredited incubator or accelerator. You will receive a certification, which you use to apply to immigration for the visa.

Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช

Ireland

Name: Start-up Entrepreneur Programme

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 5 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You have to submit a business plan for a "High Potential Start-up", defined as a business that will:

  • Introduce a new or innovative product or service
  • Have the potential to create at least 10 new jobs in Ireland within 4 years
  • Have the potential to generate at least โ‚ฌ1,000,000 in sales within 4 years
  • Be based in Ireland
  • Be led by experienced managers
  • Have at least โ‚ฌ75,000 of initial funding

Israel ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ

Israel

Name: Innovation Visas Program for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 24 months

Family can join: No

High level process

You apply to a landing pad, which is like an incubator. Once accepted you can apply for the visa.

Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Italy

Name: Italia Startup Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: No

High level process

You can choose to apply direct or through a certified incubator. Both ways include submitting a pitch deck, where the viability of your business is assessed.

Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

Japan

Name: Startup Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 1 year

Family can join: No

High level process

You submit a business implementation plan to the city of Fukuoka directly, who need to approve it. They provide a confirmation certificate which you then use to apply to Immigration Services Agency of Japan.

Lithuania ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น

Lithuania

Name: Startup Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You submit an online application which includes providing a pitch deck. A committee will evaluate your idea and if successful, you can apply for the visa, after which you have 30 days to register your business.

Malaysia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ

Malaysia

Visa name: Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP)

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 1 or 5 years

Family can join: Yes

1 year for new entrepreneurs, or up to 5 years with family for experienced entrepreneurs.

High level process

Along with your application you have to submit a pitch deck, financial records, a certificate of good conduct. Besides that you need to find a sponsor.

Netherlands ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ

Netherlands

Visa name: Startup visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 1 year

Family can join: No

High level process

You need to find a facilitator, who you enter into an agreement with, that handles your application. Then you need to prove that your idea is innovative and can scale, in order to receive the visa.

New Zealand ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

New Zealand

Visa name: Entrepreneur Work Visa (are becoming increasingly harder to obtain) and Global Impact Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 3 years

Family can join: Yes

Entrepreneur Work Visa is a temporary visa allowing you and your family to live and work in New Zealand for up to 3 years. Global Impact Visa is a permanent visa.

High level process

Entrepreneur Work Visa: You will have to invest NZ$100,000 (can be waived), score 120 points on the points scale, and present a business plan. If the business does well it can lead to a permanent visa.

Global Impact Visa: First you need to be accepted to the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

"The Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) fosters humankind's creative potential from New Zealand, by supporting a community of impact entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers to build meaningful solutions to global problems."

Once you're accepted you may apply for the permanent visa, after 30 months of being part of the fellowship.

Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น

Portugal

Visa name: Startup Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 12 months

Family can join: No

You apply to an approved incubator, who will provide you with a declaration of interest. With that you can apply for the visa. You will have to proof that:

  • Your project/startup is focused on tech
  • Your startup shows potential to the creation of jobs, besides the entrepreneurs you include initially, along with yourself, in your application
  • Your startup shows the potential to generate a turnover of 325,000โ‚ฌ/ year and/or assets value over 325,000โ‚ฌ/ year, within 5 years after the start of the contract with your chosen incubator
  • You have the capacity to establish a company, when applicable, during the undergoing of the program

Rwanda ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ

Rwanda

Visa name: W2 - Entrepreneur in Information Technology and related activities

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 3 years

Family can join: No

High level process

You register the company in Rwanda, then with the certificate of company registration, plus application form and other relevant documents, you apply for the visa.

Singapore ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ

Singapore

Visa name: EntrePass (Entrepreneur)

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You have to register a company in Singapore, and then secure at least $100,000 from a government investment vehicle, VC or angel that is recognised by a Singapore Government agency.

Thailand ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ

Thailand

Visa name: SMART S (Startup) Visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

This visa requires you to deposit เธฟ600,000 in a Thai bank account. You then have one year to set up a Thailand company in one of the ten targeted industries within your first year.

United Arab Emirates ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช

UAE

Visa name: Ras Al Khaima Economic Zone, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Fujairah Creative City, DMCC

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: 1 year renewable visa (infinitely renewable)

Family can join: Yes

There are around 30 free zones in the UAE. Above are the major ones. A free zone is a special economic zone within a country, usually designed to attract businesses either via tax benefits or other incentives.

High level process

You submit all relevant forms to the free zone of your choice and if successful, you pay the fees, wait for your visas to be issued and that's it:

  • 100% foreign ownership of the enterprise
  • 100% import and export tax exemptions
  • Visas for employees and dependents
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Corporate tax exemptions for up to 50 years
  • No personal income taxes

United Kingdom ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง

UK

Visa name: Start-up visa

Visa type: Temporary

Visa duration: Up to 2 years

Family can join: Yes

High level process

You need to be endorsed by an authorised body, and demonstrate that your business idea is new, innovative, and viable.

This content is also available on Notion.

Leandro
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