Startup Visa Countries: The Ultimate Entrepreneur Visa Guide in 2021
Last updated on June 7th, 2021
It’s no secret that startups contribute massively to local economies. They also attract a large number of highly skilled people to immigrate to the host nations.
So, various countries launched temporary residency programs, referred to as ‘entrepreneur visas,’ to entice entrepreneurs from different parts of the world.
The application terms, conditions, and requirements vary between countries. The common denominator is they all pave a way to start your entrepreneurial journey with various advantages.
Here, we have rounded up the list of countries that offer startup visas to entrepreneurs worldwide. Moreover, we will also guide you through the application procedure and requirements.
Just read along and discover!
What is an Entrepreneur Visa or a Startup Visa?
The Entrepreneur Visa is a temporary conditional residence permit launched by different countries to let people develop their businesses internationally. This is a visa category for entrepreneurs raising funds or are looking for a permanent stay afterward.
Yes, the entrepreneur visa is converted into a permanent residency visa if specific requirements are met.
This means that entrepreneurs now have a valuable opportunity to start a business in a foreign nation. The person simply has to invest in an existing business or start his own in a foreign country. So, to say, the founders of a profitable business have a chance to commit and execute their work in a better environment. This international move can prove to be one of the best decisions of your life. It helps a startup founder collaborate with investor groups capable of funding your innovative products and services.
Moreover, all the visa programs need particular capital investment and a comprehensive business plan. Qualifying these requirements will document the nature of the business and how the business will successfully compete.
How to Choose the Right Startup Visa
It’s true, it has become easy to do business anywhere in today’s world. But note that, not every country has adequate resources to support all types of businesses. Besides, even if there are all resources, they might not offer the right working conditions. Resulting in the failure of the business. Therefore, you need to be wise while deciding which entrepreneur visa will be right for you.
As each country offers different things to a budding startup founder, he needs to evaluate his personal situation for the best fit. So, before applying research and decide which market is suitable for you to explore the industry. Ensure that you can hire skills and technologies that you were finding difficult to source in your home country.
As you’ll proceed reading, you will find the list of countries that can offer you an ideal ground for a startup. We have also mentioned the requirements and conditions of each of them, which would eventually let you decide where you can grow your business.
The Startup Visas of the World: Countries that offer Entrepreneur Visas
Having said that, it’s time to expand your horizons and bring your idea to the world! Figure out which of the countries will work the best for you.
The United States Entrepreneur Visa
The United States entrepreneur visa is a great way to enter America for a startup. Besides, there are various types of visas that are perfect for immigrant entrepreneurs. For instance, EB-Visas, H-1B Visa, E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, L-1 Visa, and 0-Visas. All the visas have different application processes and requirements. Let’s go through each of them in detail.
EB-Visas: Employment-Based Immigration
The EB-Visas is for entrepreneurs who want to work and settle permanently in the US. Furthermore, this type of visa has five levels, each having a different order of preference.
This is specifically created for people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Also, the applicant doesn’t require proof of employment. Besides, professors, researchers, multinational managers, or executives can also apply.
Conditions: You qualify for the program only if you plan to continue to work in your field of expertise. In addition, the applicants must prove that their expertise will benefit the US in some way or the other.
How to apply:
- the applicant needs to prove that they have received an international recognition award, such as a Nobel Prize, in their field.
- Prove that they are a member of a prestigious organization in their area.
- Provide necessary documents.
Besides having exceptional qualifications in sciences, arts, or business, you also have to show at least ten years of full-time experience in your field. Your license will validate whether you are eligible for the visa or not. You can also include your family in this program.
EB-5 is the last EB visa and is focused more on people who want to invest in the country rather than seek employment.
- The minimum investment requirement is at least $1,800,000 in business or $900,000 for investments in targeted employment areas.
- Provide goods and services to the US market.
- Create employment for at least 10 Americans.
- Manage your business through formulating business policy.
How to apply:
Once you have qualified for the requirements, you can fill the application form. To apply, you would require documents like Identity proof, birth certificate, criminal records, photographs, passport, etc.
This visa is available for those who perform services in “specialty occupation.” However, this is not an ordinary visa. By specialty, it doesn’t mean a particular industry. Instead, it checks the education qualification of the applicant and whether that job requires his precise expertise.
The application for an H-1B visa is filled by an employer on behalf of the employee. Note that this proceeds through the proper job offering process as per the US policy.
All the applications go through the PERM, “Program Electronic Review Management” system for approval.
E-2 Visa: Treaty Investors
If the $1 million investment requirement is too high for you, you might consider the E-2 “treaty investor” visa. Although there is no specific minimum investment required for this one, experts say that you might not qualify for an amount less than $100,000 as investor visas’ purpose is to create jobs in the US.
- Your native country must have an investor treaty with the US. As of now, 80 countries have a treaty with the USA.
- You must have proof of your investment. A business loan agreement, bank account balance, or investor agreement will work.
- The applicant also has to provide other details like employer identification number and business licenses.
This one is of two types of L-1 visas, L-1A and L-1B.
The L-1A is only for business managers and executives. On the other hand, L-1B is for those who have specialized knowledge in a field but do not serve a management role. Using these visas, a US employer can transfer a qualified worker from a foreign country to a related business in the USA.
Also, executives from a foreign country can send their employees to the US to establish or manage a branch of their country.
This type of visa is for people who have acclaimed extraordinary abilities signified and recognized nationally and internationally. The applicant also needs to prove that he is staying in the USA temporarily to work in their field of work.
Despite the fact that the O-1 is a temporary visa, you can renew it as long as you’re operating the business. However, if the company fails or you decide to switch to a different work area, you won’t be allowed to stay in the US any longer.
The B-1 visa allows entrepreneurs to visit the USA for business purposes. However, there are some strict restrictions on the type of business conducted.
The B-1 Visa also does not allow children or spouses to obtain a dependent visa and will need to apply for their B-2 visa.
Besides, the B-1 is the ideal visa for entrepreneurs who want to visit the States and build the foundation of their startup. It also works just as well for those planning on joining an incubator, accelerator, or relevant conference.
Canada Startup Visa
If you are a qualifying startup founder, you can apply for the Canada startup visa. Being one of the most entrepreneur-friendly visa programs, it allows permanent residency in the country. Moreover, the critical point to qualify for this program is to get support for your business (like from investors) from a designated organization. It is also called the letter of support.
- One of the essential requirements is that the applicant should be fluent enough to communicate in English, French, or both through proof from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
- Five people can own a business. However, each of them must possess at least 10% of the voting shares. In other words, the business owners must have at least 50% of the total voting shares in the company.
- The applicant must prove that he has adequate funds to support himself and his family members in Canada. Note that you are not allowed to borrow any funds.
- Your business must be innovative to be able to compete in the industry and also to employ Canadians.
- The applicant needs to have a minimum investment of CAD 200,000 from an accredited venture fund. Alternatively, $75,000 from a designated angel group. Moreover, if your business is listed in the incubator/accelerator program category, you don’t need to meet the capital requirement.
How to apply
- Once you meet the above requirements, you need to get the application package that includes an instruction guide and a document checklist. You can easily fill the form on your computer.
- Also, make sure that you are putting only the correct information and print the form once completed. Any wrong info can result in the rejection of the application.
- Gather all the documents outlined in the checklist and put them in a sealed envelope along with the printed application. Pay the application fee that incorporates the processing fees for you and anyone included on the application, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF, biometrics, and third-party payments. It can be paid online.
- Within 30 days of submitting the application, get your photo and fingerprints taken. The application will be processed for further verification.
On approval, you will be contacted by the visa office, who will ask you for your passport to issue your permanent resident visa.
The United Kingdom Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
According to the World Bank report of May 2019, Britain has been ranked as the eighth-easiest place in the world to do business. Especially after the Tier-1 entrepreneur visa was launched, many entrepreneurs migrated to the UK to set up their companies. The program doesn’t require a significant amount of capital investment. This visa is granted for three years and four months and can be extended further for two years. Moreover, the Tier 1 visa program allows businessmen with capital between £50,000 and £200,000 to set up or buy a UK-based company.
As of 29th March 2019, the Tier-1 Entrepreneur visa has been closed for new applicants. The scheme has been replaced by Innovator Visa.
Who can apply for an innovator visa?
Anyone who wishes to set up and run an innovative business in the UK can apply for the innovator visa. Provided that the business is different than anything else on the market. Besides, you also need to get your business idea endorsed by an approved body, also referred to as an endorsing body.
Moreover, you need to meet other eligibility requirements as well. For instance, you must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You will have to prove your knowledge of English during the whole process.
This visa allows you to stay in the UK for three years.
How to apply
Anyone willing to apply for an innovator visa can apply for it online.
The procedure of application usually depends on whether you belong to,
- outside the UK and migrating to the UK
- inside the UK and planning to extend your current visa
- inside the UK and switching from a different visa
You can include the family in your application to stay in the UK if eligible. Furthermore, you will be required to present your identity proofs along with some documents. Satisfying all the conditions, you will be issued a visa within three to eight weeks, depending on whether you are outside the UK or inside.
Chile VisaTech Program
The Chile VisaTech program is one of the methods to secure a startup visa. Through this program, Chile issues successful applicants a 12-month work visa. It is also one of the fastest visa approval countries that approve the permit within 15 days of application. It also provides space for startups. All tech companies in Chile can benefit from the program as they can hire qualified foreign professionals to work with them.
- The minimum requirements to apply are that startups are not over three years, with a base team 100% dedicated to the project, functional product, and early validation.
- To apply, the applicant must be sponsored by a government agency in Chile and receive a letter of invitation from InvestChile, Start-Up Chile the Undersecretariat of Economy.
- Also, the candidate either should be an owner or an employee in a tech company based in Chile. Furthermore, he can be a partner or an investor in the same.
How to apply
If you are already a foreign citizen in Chile, companies interested in accessing the Visa Tech system can submit a request for a Certificate of Sponsorship.
If you are not in Chile, the company may request a Personalized Letter of Invitation for Business Purposes. On approval, this will permit him to enter Chile and complete the hiring process there. Later, he can apply for a Work Visa.
Lithuania Startup Visa
Lithuania can be an excellent destination for a budding entrepreneur. Ideally, because it doesn’t require founders of a business to qualify a capital or employment metric to acquire the permit. Moreover, the founders are issues one year of residency and are allowed to bring family members along. The applicant can also extend his visa for another year if he meets all the standard immigration requirements.
- The startup must operate in tech sectors like biotech, nanotech, information technology, mechatronics, electronics, or laser technologies.
- The applicant needs a letter of approval from the migration department stating that the business idea is suitable for the program.
How to apply
- The applicant can submit an online application on behalf of the team, experiences, the business and get interviewed online.
- Fill the application form describing the founders, team, product, and strategy of the business.
- Along with the application, upload other documents stating your qualification like CV and diplomas.
- After that, the application and the recorded interview will be sent to the independent evaluation committee for approval. This may take around 15 days.
French Tech Visa / Tech Ticket
The French Tech Visa is for startup founders and tech company investors to live and work in France for four years. The applicants can also include their immediate family members in the program. Moreover, the spouse is also authorized to work in France without any additional work permits.
Conditions to Qualify for French Tech Visa
- The startup founder has to be selected by French Tech Visa partner incubators or accelerators through the appropriate selection process.
- The raised capital must be equal to at least the French annual minimum wage of €17,763.20.
- The applicant must also take approval from the Direccte (a French public organization) and have a plan for an economic innovation startup in France.
Besides, the French Tech Ticket Visa is for entrepreneurs who want to establish a business but do not want to indulge in the French Tech visa’s long-term commitment and sponsorship requirement. It is a 6-month acceleration program for early-stage companies. Moreover, each founder is provided funding of €12,500 to €25,000, along with free office space.
Conditions to qualify for French Tech Ticket Visa
- The applicant must have sufficient savings in his account to support himself for a year (around €18,000).
- The startup must have a partnership with a French incubator or an accelerator.
- It must have at least two co-founders out of whom only one can hold French citizenship.
- Applicants must be fluent in English, and the startup must be their sole focus while in the country. Also, the immigrants will not be allowed to seek any other means of employment during the 12-month visa period.
How to apply
All applications must be filled online. Moreover, France does not charge an employee sponsorship fee. However, they apply a standard processing fee of €324.
Denmark Startup Visa
Any self-employed individuals outside of the EU with innovative, scalable, and ideally tech-driven business ideas can apply for the Denmark Startup visa. The visa is granted for 24 months, with a subsequent extension for five years is possible. Moreover, the applicant can include close family members in the application. Note that the program doesn’t provide any fundings. The program is gaining popularity mostly due to the absence of a sponsorship requirement.
- The applicant must have command of English and must be able to support himself financially. This means he must have savings between 137,076 DKK and 319,236 DKK at least.
- Moreover, the business plan must be evaluated by a Start-up Denmark panel and the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
How to apply
Once your business plan is approved, you can apply for a work and residency permit in Denmark. You will have to present documents stating the proof of your fund sources and qualifications.
Estonia Startup Visa
This visa allows non-EU founders and employees of startups to launch and grow a company in Estonia. The applicants can apply for a three or 12-month visa. However, founders who already have their startups registered in the country will also have to apply for a temporary residence permit allowing up to 5 years of stay.
- The applicant will qualify for the program if he agrees to spend at least €130 every month in Estonia.
- The business/company needs to be approved by a Startup Committee.
- Besides, the applicant will have to present an innovative and scalable business model with global potential.
- Also, the person must have a valid Estonian insurance policy covering at least €30,000.
How to apply
The founders must fill out the visa application form detailing their business plan and team. This is further evaluated by a Startup Committee consisting of members of the Estonian startup community.
Ireland Startup Entrepreneur Programme
Ireland issues an entrepreneur visa to individuals who wish to build startups in the country. Although the program has a bit higher capital requirements, they provide unique business benefits to the immigrants, such as tax incentives like low corporate taxes. It grants residency for two years and an option to renew it for three years.
- The business must be less than five years old, with the main headquarters in Ireland.
- The innovative company must have the potential to employ ten jobs and earn at least €1 million in turnover within 3-4 years.
- Also, there should be funding of €50,000 for one startup founder and €30,000 for each subsequent founder for a capital requirement.
How to apply
As you will fill the application, you are required to attest documents supporting the idea of an Irish Start-up Entrepreneur Programme visa. You will also be asked to provide character statements from police of countries they have resided in.
Italy Startup Visa
Any startup wishing to expand in Italy to benefit from R&D funding. Applicants will receive their self-employment visa valid for 1-year and an extension possibility of 2 years.
- The individual contribution of the applicant in the business must be €50,000.
- Moreover, the company/startup must be less than five years old with a turnover of less than €5 million. Also, there mustn’t be any distributed profits in the past.
- One-third of the team members must have PhDs, or two-thirds must hold a master’s degree.
- A company doesn’t have to be based in Italy. However, one of its headquarters must be in Italy, which results in tax contributions.
How to apply
The application procedure is simple and can be done directly or by applying to one of Italy’s incubator programs. The applicant must fill the application form and include a business plan, a copy of your passport covers a letter of proof of financial resources.
Sweden Startup Visa: Self-Employment Residency
The Sweden Self-Employment Residency program supports the people who want to stay there for more than three months for business purposes. The visa allows the entrepreneur to stay in Sweden for two years with the potential to extend it into a permanent residency.
- The applicant must be experienced in his work field and hold at least 50% ownership of his business running in Sweden.
- Furthermore, the company must be able to support all applicants and family members after two years.
How to apply
After you have qualified for the eligibility criteria, you can apply for the residency permit as a self-employed person. You can apply online or in person. Attest all the required documents like passport, bank statements, partnership agreement, previous employment certificates, and companies registered under your name inside and outside Sweden.
Remember: The whole process may take up to a year, starting from when you submit your request until you get a result of the decision made on your case. It all depends on how accurate your documents are.
Spain Startup Visa: Residence Visa for Entrepreneurs
The Spain startup visa program aims to provide an immigration opportunity to skilled employees and investors outside of the EU. Besides, it is relatively easy to obtain this visa, and on successful approval, the applicant is provided one year of residency.
- The applicant has to stay in Spain for the whole period.
- Also, he needs to present a report from the Commercial Office, which confirms the intentions of the business plan
- Also, he has to show bank accounts with enough savings to support himself and the applicants.
How to apply
Foreign startup founders outside of the country can apply for the entrepreneur visa at a Spanish consulate. Besides, the ones already residing in Spain legally can apply for an entrepreneur authorization in Spain. In addition, it is recommended that you consult the embassy as well.
Note: Get all the documentation translated into Spanish by a licensed translator
Portugal Startup Visa Program
Portugal has attracted a lot of entrepreneurs and investors in the last few years. Portugal’s startup visa program allows foreign business founders to set up new businesses of a branch of an existing business in the country. However, there are some conditions.
- The startup must be technology-oriented.
- It must be capable of generating a turnover of €325,000 every year.
- Moreover, the startup idea must be innovative, having a potential for market and creating jobs.
How to apply
On satisfying all the requirements, fill the visa application on an online platform. Make sure to get the application translated and submitted in Portuguese or English language. The incubator processes and verifies it after multiple revisions. Once the application is approved, you’ll receive a notification through the online portal.
Do not forget to attest to all the documents necessary for the eligibility process.
To learn more about it, check out our guide on the Portugal Startup Visa.
Greece Investment Residence Permit
Businessmen looking forward to establishing or extend their existing business in Greece have an opportunity to obtain a residence permit in Greece. They can get it with the help of a “golden visa,” which is issued in exchange for an investment. In addition, the startup founders have an advantage of this visa. He can be provided with both counseling and financial assistance at the initial stage.
- A convincing business plan that demonstrates the startup idea.
- Get the company registered in the Unified Social Security Institution.
How to apply
First of all, apply for an entry visa to Greece. Gather all the necessary documents and get them translated before submitting them to the corresponding authorities. Later, you will receive a blue certificate that confirms the submission of documents.
You will obtain the residency permit for two years which is expandable for ten years.
Netherlands Startup Residence Permit
If you’re looking for an international base to innovate your business, Netherlands can offer you good ground. The approved applicants are referred to the Startup Delta. This is a partnership between the government, accelerators, investment groups, and startups. These organizations guide and mentor the new startup founders in the Netherlands. Under this program, the founders have one year to launch their business with an extension potential of one year.
- The applicant must prove that he has funds of at least €13,000 to support himself.
- The entrepreneur and the facilitator should be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce and submit a guided step-by-step plan.
How to apply
Anyone who wishes to apply can submit the application to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. After the submission of the application, submit the application fee. On approval, the applicant can collect the residence permit from the IND office or one of the Expat Centers in the Netherlands.
Australia Business Innovation Visa
With the Australia Business Innovation Visa, foreign entrepreneurs and investors can start, grow and move their businesses in the country. The applicant is permitted to stay in the country for four years and three months with this visa.
- The applicant must be experienced and have a successful business record. Moreover, he must be nominated by an Australian body to apply for the visa.
- The business must have a turnover of at least AUD 3M in at least 2 of the four business years before applying.
- He must also have at least AUD 400,000 in net assets along with funds of at least AUD 200,000 raised by a third party.
How to apply
On the invitation, there will be all instructions on how to lodge your application. Moreover, the applicant also has to prove his identity and provide documents about the business and assets. Furthermore, he also needs to provide documents of the family members applying with him.
You will be notified after the visa has been approved.
New Zealand offers three types of visas for entrepreneurs.
This program enables the entrepreneurs to establish or buy a business in New Zealand through a 12-month work visa at the startup stage. The visa can be renewed for another 24 months after the review of business milestones and progress. The critical requirement of this visa is a minimum investment of NZ$100,000.
Global Impact Visa
If an entrepreneur wants to create a positive global impact through startup companies, this is the ideal visa program. It is framed through a fellowship program (Edmund Hillary Fellowship) that helps up to 400 individuals to introduce their business ideas. The minimum personal capital requirement of NZ$36,000 to support you and your family for the first year.
Entrepreneur Residence Category
This program is suitable for successful entrepreneurs who have built businesses with export potential in New Zealand. This visa is available in two categories: one lasting two years and the other lasting six months.
- For the two-year visa, the applicant must successfully establish or purchase a business in New Zealand. In addition, the business must be beneficial to the country.
- For six months of visa, investment of at least NZ$500,000 in the company is required, along with creating three new full-time jobs for New Zealand citizens.
Singapore Entrepass Service
Singapore’s entre pass has made it easier for entrepreneurs to enter and establish a new business on the island in recent years. It offers residency for two years with an option to apply for a permanent stay if you wish to extend it.
- The applicant must be sponsored by a Singapore-based company with a refundable bond of at least SGD 3,000.
- The business must aim at paying a capital of a minimum of SGD 50,000.
- Provide a business plan
How to apply
To apply, fill the application form and documents needed for the EntrePass application, including a valid passport and past employment testimonials in English.
Israel Innovation Visa
This is for entrepreneurs who want to develop a technology or project in Israel for a period of up to 24 months. To extend the residency for five years, applicants can apply for Expert Visa by working in their company.
- The business project plan must be approved by the government named the Landing Pad Approval.
- It is also necessary to get it approved by a professional and Israel Innovation Authority Community.
How to apply
One can apply for the innovation visa after the successful approval of the project.