Top 11 Most Wanted Startup Visas Worldwide
Authored by Paula Vazquez
The startup ground keeps growing and escalating into new fields and niches, which provokes governments to optimize their policies and permits to welcome businesses from abroad to boost economies. Setting up a new business is exciting, frightening, and challenging, as well as an incredible experience for every entrepreneur. Choosing the best country and visa for registering, launching, or working on your startup is a key step in your entrepreneurship path. The following list contains eleven visa options that can help you set up a new business around the world.
Remember you can browse more about these start-up visas and apply with a verified Expert at visadb.io to ease your process.
1. United States International Entrepreneur Parole (IER)
The United States has been well known for a while as a land of innovation and opportunity, which is still reflected in how it represents 70% of the North American ecosystem only with Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. The United States is, at the same time, 50% of the global startup force, and the leading country in the number of startups with 70,762.
The International Entrepreneur Parole (IER) is a relatively new visa from December 2017, and the only entrepreneur entry regulation available in the United States. With the IER, the Department of Homeland Security can utilize its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to entrepreneurs of foreign origin who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would benefit greatly the public through their business venture and that they merit a favorable exercise of discretion. Entrepreneurs that are granted this Parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business, and their spouses may apply for work authorization once present in the country.
At visadb, we have partnered with highly-reputable lawyer Alexandra Michailov to help you obtain this visa. You can contact her here.
- Which cities are the top performers for startups in the United States? Within its numerous startup hubs, the main three are Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston.
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in Silicon Valley? Silicon Valley is the #1 startup ecosystem worldwide, and “despite the increased scrutiny and rising residence prices, [it] remains a vibrant place for startups” (Robert Siegel). The ecosystem is worth $1029 billion USD and its sub-sector strengths are mainly AI, Big Data & Analytics, Fintech, and Life Sciences. Two great features of Silicon Valley are the laws and regulations which protect entrepreneurs to guard ownership of ideas and business interests, and the great range of angel investors in the area.
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in New York City? New York City’s startup ecosystem is only beaten by Silicon Valley, and it is worth $189 billion USD. It is also known for being the most diverse in the country by hosting Women.nyc to support female-owned businesses. Moreover, it became the largest US city to recognize LGBTQ-owned companies, which made it a hot spot for support and funding. Something to highlight in the future of New York City’s startups is the initiative from the Mayor’s Office and the NYC Department of Small Businesses to cut red tape and make it the most accessible one in the country: “We’re cutting the red tape and bringing real relief to the entrepreneurs who have made their dreams a reality and keep our local economy strong” (Mayor Eric Adams).
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in Boston? Boston’s ecosystem, worth $133 billion USD, is principally potentialized by its tech talent from universities such as Harvard and MIT. Therefore, the strongest sub-sectors are Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, and Robotics. Another reason why Boston is the top third city for startups in the United States is that it has the second largest national fund venture right after Silicon Valley, which makes it easy for businesses to scale.
- How has the startup ecosystem in the United States changed in the last few years? Even though there are veteran startup ecosystem hubs such as the ones previously mentioned or Chicago, Los Angeles, and others, the United States is always expanding in opportunities. For instance, Austin, Texas, is a growing ecosystem with a worth of $19.8 billion USD. Recently, Elon Musk decided to move Tesla to this southern city and aims to employ 5,000 workers. This move is certainly going to affect the nation’s startup ecosystem as investors take a look at it.
Photo: Colton Duke, Unsplash
2. The United Kingdom Start-up Visa
When it comes to company formation, the United Kingdom has welcoming permits and tax policies that make it a business-friendly location; maybe this is why the UK is the third country with the largest number of startups with 6,155. In 2016, and in spite of Brexit’s uncertainty, 60% of the investment came from overseas, and London is home to a large group of investors and funding.
Regarding their start-up visa, the government has crafted it to attract not only third-country citizens but also from the EU due to Brexit. Entrepreneurs need to be endorsed by a university or business organization in order to apply for this visa. They can also work in other activities as long as they continue the business activities of their organization.
If you want to apply for this visa, check the complete requirements. At visadb, we have partnered with Raj Agarwal, a verified immigration Expert, to help you with your application. Feel free to contact him here.
- Why set up a business in the United Kingdom? The United Kingdom has the most competitive tax system in the European region. Any company resident that is in the territory must pay Corporation Tax on company profits: the current rate is 19%, and it is the lowest in the G20. Moreover, for startups, the government of the United Kingdom offers schemes to help small and medium businesses to grow, and the Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Venture Capital Trust offer tax relief for entrepreneurs that want to invest in small businesses in the country.
- What does the English startup ecosystem look like? Actually, the biggest startup hub in Europe is in London. The ecosystem in this city is currently worth $142 billion USD, and it is the #2 in Global Ecosystem Funding rates. Also, the principal sector that is thriving in London in recent years is Fintech (with more startups of this kind than in San Francisco and Silicon Valley). Related companies like Wise, formerly Transferwise, Revolut, and Klarna are based in the capital of the United Kingdom.
- What is the access to capital for startups in the United Kingdom? Regarding investors, there are 11,770 in the country of which 4,489 are based solely in London. Venture Capital for the tech sector raised to $13.2 billion GBP in 2019, as investors are constantly open to opportunities. The chance to obtain funding also depends on the sector of your company, to say, FinTech, e-commerce, and Gaming are the three main sectors chosen by investors.
- Can I bring my family to the United Kingdom with a Startup Visa? Yes, you can bring your spouse and kids with you as long as they apply for their appropriate permits to live in the United Kingdom as well.
Photo: Hieu Vu Minh, Unsplash
3. Australia Entrepreneur Stream Visa
Australia is a world-leading economy in a great extension of diversity and land, and top 7 in countries led by a number of startups with a quantity of 2,214. If you want to carry out entrepreneurial activities in this country, you would need to apply for the Entrepreneur Stream Visa (188). Before requesting this permit, entrepreneurs need to send an EOI or Expression of Interest to then be nominated by a state or territory. Amongst other requirements, they must speak a high English level and have a legally enforced agreement with a value of 145,456 USD. This visa allows you not only to set up a business but also to stay for up to 5 years, and bring your family members with you.
To know about further requirements for this Australian visa, please visit visadb.io.
- Why startup a business in Australia? Australia has one of the most stable economies in the world, for instance, in 2021, the GDP exceeded its pre-pandemic growth rate, and the government worked hard to recover from Delta lockdowns. Moreover, Australia has a close integration with Asian economies, which causes wealth creation in the region.
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in Australia? Entrepreneurs can benefit from Australia’s educated workforce, government grants, and the city of Sydney’s dynamism since it is the home of several incubators and accelerators. From 2017 to 2019, The Sydney Startup Hub Started and generated more than $280 million USD in investment and over 1000 jobs in its first 2 years of operation. The startup ecosystem value in Sydney is $13.4 billion USD.
- Does the government of Australia offer any funding to startups? The Australian government supports startups with grants which usually prefer tourism, renewable energy, and exports. Some of the most popular grants and programs are The Entrepreneurs’ Programme, iLab Startup Incubation, No Interest Microcredit Loans, and The Advancing Renewable Program.
- Can I get permanent residency through this visa? Yes. If an applicant has completed 5 years on the 188 Entrepreneur Stream Visa and fulfilled the obligations of their stay, they can apply for the 888 visa that grants permanent residency.
- What are some successful startup stories from Australia? The startup scene in Australia gave birth to famous unicorns such as Canva, which is now one of the most popular creative platforms worldwide.
Photo: Caleb Russell, Unsplash
4. Singapore Start-up Visa Entrepass
A great destination for tech entrepreneurs is Singapore as the government has well-invested in the sector for years and is planning to increase its efforts by 2025. Moreover, Singapore was ranked as the second most innovative country in Asia by Bloomberg. It is also well-known for having a high-quality life, home-ownership rate, healthcare, and education. The Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) permits foreign entrepreneurs to launch their startup in Singapore and relocate there to run it for 2 years. Another option for tech leaders and entrepreneurs is Tech.Pass which lasts for up to 2 years and permits them to start and operate a business, work for another, be a mentor, sponsor family and renew for two extra years.
Read more about the EntrePass and the Tech.Pass in this free visa database.
- Which sub-sectors are currently thriving in Singapore? The sub-sectors that thrive the most in Singapore are the fields of Fintech, Cleantech, Agtech & New Food.
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in Singapore? Lim Ee-Ling, the Regional Director for 500 Startups Asia Pacific, says that the ecosystem in Singapore is set to accelerate and even become a hub for tech startups. The government has been supporting the ecosystem by creating programs and funding and working closely with universities, accelerators, and incubators. The Singaporean startup ecosystem is amongst the best 10 worldwide.
- What does the access to capital for startups look like in Singapore? The government supports first-time entrepreneurs through grants, talent placements, and investment. The Open Innovation Network is intended to connect new businesses with markets abroad and it has produced successful unicorns such as Carro and Patsnap.
- How does Singapore support talent development and attraction? The Singaporean government has worked to facilitate providing visas for employees that work for Singapore-based startups. Tech@SG aids fast-growing companies to hire the talent they need to escalate in the region or abroad.
Photo: Swapnil Bapat, Unsplash
5. Canada Start-Up Visa
Canada is known for its multicultural society and its startup scene is not an exception as the government supports initiatives to attract foreign entrepreneur talent, efforts which have placed it in the 4th place in the countries with the most number of startups with 3,321. There are various ways in which foreign business people can start a company in Canada, but here we present to you the most popular two. One option is the Start-up Visa Program which targets immigrant entrepreneurs that have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada as far as they are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and compete on a global scale.
If you are interested in applying for this Permit, click here to connect with verified Immigration Experts, ready to help you with your process.
Another Startup Visa / Program option for this country in the North is The Entrepreneur Pathway which allows Manitoba to recruit and nominate qualified business people from all over the world to move to the region and establish, purchase or become partners in an existing business, as long as they have the intent and ability to do it within the first 24 months of arrival in Canada on a temporary work permit.
Here you can find more information, the list of documents and requirements.
- Which sub-sectors are currently thriving in Canada? There are four main successful sub-sectors in Canada. Cleantech is backed by progressive Alberta government policy and grants as they aim to reduce the environmental footprint. Life Sciences is also supported in Alberta as they invested $5 million in a precision medicine venture fund For the growth of Life Sciences companies in the region. Other sub-sectors include AI, Big Data & Analytics, and Fintech.
- What does the Canadian startup ecosystem look like? It is known for being an inclusive and supportive ecosystem aiming for clean technologies and the backing of tech education amongst other industries. Canadian startup ecosystem can best be described in the words of Catherine Warren, the CEO of Innovative Edmonton: “The world needs what Edmonton offers: a passionate and vibrant innovation ecosystem committed to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, aimed at solving some of the world’s biggest challenges - climate emergency, public health, digital education and inclusion, food security and social and cultural innovation.”
- What does the access to capital for startups look like in Canada? The access to capital in Canada is broad, but Montreal is the investment capital as it has 6 of the 10 most active Venture capital based in the city, and seven investment funds as well as access to $33 million of CAD from Montreal’s PME.
- What are some successful startup stories from Canada? Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are home to some of the most successful unicorns in the world. One example is ApplyBoard which helps students find programs and scholarships abroad and has been valued at $1.50 billion CAD. Another one is Hopper, an application that predicts future flights so travelers can get the best deals.
Photo: Scott Webb, Unsplash
6. South Korea Business Start-up Visa
South Korea is not only among the top #20 best countries to startup, but it is also predicted to come up to position #5 by 2022 as the government is investing around $94.5 billion USD to support Digital and Green companies. The required visa permit for setting up a business, applying for intellectual property rights, and getting the benefits of the Korean ecosystem is the Korean Business Startup Visa (D-10-2) or the Start-up Support and Start-up Visa (D-8-4). Both can be obtained by participating in programs such as OASIS, and Overall Assistance for Startup Immigration System, as they were designed for foreigners who want to establish and launch their business in South Korea based on outstanding ideas and technology. Moreover, the Seoul Business Agency provides public services to support startups. The main period granted is 6 months, but it can also be extended into further periods.
We have partnered with Immigration Expert Mark Benton to bring a great service to all entrepreneurs wanting to relocate to South Korea and to those who are interested in the Business Visa. Click here to know more about his service.
- Which sub-sectors are currently thriving in South Korea? The most successful sub-sectors currently are AI, Big Data & Analytics, Life Sciences, and Gaming.
- What does the South Korean startup ecosystem look like? The Mayor of Seoul set the goal to turn the city into a hub of young entrepreneurs, and they intend to support start-ups beyond their starting stage. The ecosystem has a value of $47.2 billion USD.
- What does the access to capital for startups look like in South Korea? There are several options to obtain funding in South Korea. One of the most popular ones is The Seoul Global Startup Center, founded in 2016, which supports foreign entrepreneurs that are coming to South Korea by giving them a coworking space to work, mentoring, and education as well as the opportunity to raise money without giving equity in the process. There are also several private incubators and runs such as Venture Capital World Summit, COMEUP, and TIP.
- What are some successful startup stories from South Korea? This startup hub has produced 11 amazing unicorns such as CB Insights, Riid, and Viva Republica.
Photo: Zequn Gui, Unsplash
7. Denmark Start-up Visa
Start-up Denmark is a scheme that every year gives only 50 innovative foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to acquire a Danish residence permit to establish and run a company. The business idea must be approved by a panel of experts appointed by the Danish Business Authority so that your application for a residence and work permit can be processed. Moreover, the applicant needs to have sufficient funds to subsist in Denmark for the first year and make the appropriate payments, among other requirements. These permits can be granted for a period of 2 years and extended for 3 years at a time.
The complete list of eligibility and document requirements for this visa can be explored here. If you have a Tech-Startup and would like to apply, our verified Expert for Denmark, Milla Sondergaard, is ready to assist you. Chat with her here.
- Why startup a business in Denmark? You can get free professional guidance in any Business Development Centre in more than 10 locations around the country. Moreover, registering a company in Denmark only costs 1 Danish Krone which is the equivalent of 0.15 USD, and you can also apply for the registration online. In only four days, your result will be submitted.
- What does the Danish startup ecosystem look like? Denmark has a great network of both public and private entrepreneur supporters, accelerators, and incubators, which turns the country into a hub for cutting-edge companies in a variety of sectors such as life science, ICT, design, cleantech, and sustainable energy.
- What is the access to capital for startups in Denmark? You can acquire support and advice on which funding to apply for your business by contacting your local Business Development Centre. For instance, you might be eligible to apply for The Danish Growth Fund which invests in new initiatives to create employment and economic growth in Denmark.
- Can I bring my startup team to Denmark? Yes, both individuals and teams of up to 3 people who want to start up together in Denmark can apply through a joined business plan.
Photo: Adrian Cuj, Unsplash
8. New Zealand Start-up Work and Residence Visas
New Zealand is a thrilling destination for entrepreneurs as it is the easiest country to do business because “the government embraces high-quality local and international investment to grow and support a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy”, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise suggests. This country also has a 0% Tax on payroll, social security, and capital gains. If you are an entrepreneur looking forward to relocating with your business ideas to New Zealand, you need to start with the Start-up Work Visa for the first six months.
After the first half-year, as an experienced businessperson, you can apply for a Startup Residence Visa in New Zealand to establish a company in the country with a detailed plan for the setup. If you qualify, after six months or two years you can change to the Entrepreneur Residence Category. Furthermore, to apply you need a capital investment of a minimum $100,000, but science or ICT businesses can obtain a waiver. Amongst other requirements, the entrepreneur needs to comply with health, character, bank history, and English conditions.
- What does the NZ startup ecosystem look like? There have recently been foreign investments that have increased the chances to acquire early-stage funding. Some of the sectors that are mostly thriving are: deep tech, as 42% of investment in 2020 went to related companies; Medtech/biotech, climate tech, and crypto and blockchain.
- Does the government of New Zealand offer any funding for startups? There are funding, support, and mentorship programs: Regional Business Partner Network, which supports small businesses; Callaghan Innovation, aimed at tech startups and tech-growth companies; Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ), which provides six-month help for startups.
Photo: Sulthan Auliya, Unsplash
9. Sweden Residence Permit for Self-Employed Entrepreneurs
Sweden’s government has had a unique focus on innovation, equality, co-creation, and sustainability which has formed a highly dynamic economy. Regarding the tech industry, Sweden has been topping the EIS ranking in 2021 and is, therefore, the #1 innovative country in Europe for the sixth consecutive year. To set up a business in Sweden, or become a part-owner of a company, you need to apply for the Residence Permit for Self-employed Entrepreneurs if you are a non-EU/non-Swiss citizen. The programs have been designed to attract innovative business people and entrepreneurs to relocate to Sweden as long as they have enough expertise and experience running their own businesses.
For more information about the requirements, check out visadb.
- Why startup a business in Sweden? With a high GDP, Sweden ranks in the TOP 10 countries for entrepreneurs in 2021. It also produces the most unicorn startups, being only behind Silicon Valley.
- What does the Swedish startup ecosystem look like? Sweden has a trustable startup ecosystem, especially for tech startups. In the words of Marie Wall, Startup director of the Ministry of Enterprise, Division for Research, Innovation, and Access to Finance, “Stockholm has a mature value-driven and true international startup ecosystem built on Swedish innovation excellence, equality values, and pay-it-forward culture”.
- What does the access to capital for startups look like in Sweden? With the success of companies such as Spotify and Skype, several international investors have become interested in Swedish startups. On average, early-stage funding is 1 billion USD, and the ecosystem value is 46 billion USD.
- Is there a path to permanent residence or citizenship? After obtaining the first permit, you may be granted permanent residence if you are able to support yourself through the income of your business and as long as you adhere to the principles and hold the required permissions.
Photo: Anna Hunko, Unsplash
10. Hong Kong Startup Visa
Hong Kong has an excellent infrastructure, strategic location for business, and boundless energy. It is Asia’s most dynamic startup hub. There is a high level of foreign entrepreneurs in the zone as 26% of the startup founders are from outside the region. Also, Hong Kong is also a popular company formation destination because it is considered the world’s most economically free jurisdiction.
If you would like to start up or join a business in Hong Kong, you would need to apply for the Hong Kong Startup Visa. The applicant must have a proper background education in the proper field and no criminal records. The easiest way to get this visa approved is by applying under a government program such as StartmeupHK Venture Programme or Cyberport Incubation Programme.
If you would like to know more about this visa, please check out visadb.
- Can I bring my family members to Hong Kong with this visa? Yes, if you have enough proof of funds you can bring your family members with you.
- What does the Hong Kong startup ecosystem look like? Something truly striking about Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem is the innovation and diversity it has shown in the past years. In comparison to 2017, the ecosystem has doubled its incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces; the workforce augmented by 118%, and there was an increase of 1,526 startups in the territory. Moreover, the startup force in Hong Kong is highly diverse and throughout the years continues to be so as only 20.5% of the businesses are local.
- What does the access to capital for startups look like in Hong Kong? There are several options for funding and support from the government which you can find here. For instance, the government invested around $12.4 billion USD in I&T Development, Research, and Development, pooling talent, supporting enterprises, and promoting re-industrialization. Also, there are special supporting systems to support, relieve and assist the economy amidst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- What are the main industries growing in the Hong Kong startup scene? Even though Hong Kong is attractive to several niches, the top 5 are FinTech, e-commerce or supply chain management, professional or consultancy services, information technology (IT), and design.
Photo: Ruslan Bardash, Unsplash
11. The Netherlands Start-up Visa
The Netherlands is an attractive country to generate business because of its strategic location in Europe which provides easy access to other markets and due to its well-educated workforce of which 90% speak English. The government is constantly looking to work on policies and generate incentives to attract foreign investors and create an easy path for entrepreneurs to start their business there, for instance, companies are allowed to deduct 45.5% of their expenses to sustainable energy.
If you wish to work in the Netherlands as a start-up entrepreneur, you need to obtain a startup visa which is a residence permit valid for a maximum of one year to carry out your business activities. You are expected to produce or introduce an innovative product or service to the Netherlands market. To apply, amongst other requirements, you must collect the provisional resident permit (MVV).
In visadb, we have partnered with Reiner Rusell to assist you with your visa application for the Netherlands. Connect with him here.
- Why startup a business in the Netherlands? There are three reasons why Amsterdam-Delta is a great option for an entrepreneur. Firstly, they are a welcoming international environment for talent since foreign employees can qualify for a 30% tax reimbursement ruling, and international graduates have one year to obtain a job or start a business after they finish their studies. To that, you can add that Amsterdam has one of the world’s biggest broadband concentrations. Lastly, there are several tax benefits as mentioned before in this article.
- What does the startup ecosystem look like in the Netherlands? The ecosystem is valued at $26.9 billion USD, and in the last years, the Amsterdam-Delta region has improved to take part in the TOP #15 best ecosystems worldwide. Moreover, it is a great option for female entrepreneurs, as there is a lot of support from the government and accelerators for them. For instance, the city of Amsterdam invested $856,500 USD in December 2020 to empower tech professionals in the Female Hub Amsterdam. The sector thriving is AgTech & New Food due to the government’s vision of circular agriculture.
- What is the access to capital for startups in the Netherlands? Basically, there are three ways to obtain funding in this country, as explained by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK. Entrepreneurs can apply for an Innovation Credit Scheme and be supported by the government; for the Dutch Good Growth Fund, which is mainly for exporting and importing activities; for find support for self-employed professionals; or reach out to private investors.
Photo: jennieramida, Unsplash
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