Where is it easier to get a Start-up visa?

Where is it easier to get a Start-up visa?


If you're building a startup and considering expanding internationally, you will need to consider the logistics of visas and immigration. In this article, we will focus on the Start-up visa, which is a special type of visa that allows entrepreneurs to relocate to other countries to launch innovative businesses. With many countries offering start-up visas, it can be difficult to determine where to apply.

Various factors come into play when deciding where to apply for a Start-up visa. Of course, personal preference is entirely up to you. However, for a higher chance of success, you should choose a country that meets your visa requirements, has a favorable economic environment, offers a strong support network, and has suitable language proficiency standards. In the following sections, we will analyze five countries that offer start-up visas, and compare them based on their visa requirements, previous success stories of Start-up visa holders, and more.

What is a Start-up visa?

A Start-up visa is a program that allows entrepreneurs from foreign countries to establish and operate their start-up businesses in a different country. This type of visa is designed to encourage international entrepreneurs to set up companies and create jobs in the country where they are applying for the visa. The Start-up visa helps eligible entrepreneurs to access a new market, connect with potential investors, and incubators or accelerators.

The Start-up visa is a relatively new concept, and several countries have introduced their versions of this program. It is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their businesses globally, but may not have the financial resources or networks to do so. In the next section, we will discuss some essential factors that entrepreneurs should consider when applying for a Start-up visa in various countries.

Factors to consider when applying for a Start-up visa

When it comes to applying for a Start-up visa, there are several factors that applicants should take into consideration before deciding which country to apply to. These factors include the economic environment, visa requirements, language proficiency, and support networks available in the country.

First and foremost, it's important to consider the economic environment of the country. A Start-up visa applicant should look for countries that have a thriving start-up culture, a robust economy, and a strong investor community. Countries with a high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a supportive business environment can provide a great platform for start-ups to thrive. Additionally, access to funding, government grants and favorable tax regimes can also help to set up, operate and scale a business. This is where the right policies play a critical role, and an applicant should research which countries actively support entrepreneurship and innovation through policies that incentivize growth of start-ups.

A. Economic environment

When considering where to apply for a Start-up visa, the economic environment of the country is an important factor to consider. A strong and stable economy can provide a favorable environment for businesses to flourish and attract investors.

The United States, for example, is home to some of the world's largest and most successful start-ups. With a highly developed and innovative tech industry, the US provides an attractive environment for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses. However, the US visa process for Start-up visas can be complex and time-consuming, with a high level of scrutiny placed on applicants. The minimum investment requirement for a Start-up visa in the US is $250,000, which may be limiting for some entrepreneurs.

B. Visa requirements

When it comes to obtaining a start-up visa, one of the most important factors to consider is the specific visa requirements of the country where you are applying. Different countries have different criteria for granting a start-up visa, so it's crucial to research this thoroughly before beginning the application process. Some countries may require a certain amount of capital investment, for example, while others may prioritize innovation and the potential for job creation.

The United States, for instance, offers a start-up visa through the EB-5 program, which requires a minimum investment of $1.8 million dollars or $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area. The visa is initially granted for two years and can be extended for another two years before participants can apply for a green card. In contrast, the United Kingdom's start-up visa provides two years of residency for applicants who receive endorsement from a recognized business organization, but there is no capital requirement.

C. Language proficiency

Language proficiency is an important factor to consider when applying for a Start-up visa in a foreign country. To obtain a Start-up visa, applicants are typically required to have a good command of the country's official language. This is a crucial element in building a successful start-up in a foreign land as it enables entrepreneurs to communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, and employees.

For instance, in Canada, the language proficiency requirement for Start-up visa applicants is either English or French. Applicants must provide proof of their abilities by taking a designated language test that demonstrates their proficiency in the language they have chosen. Similarly, in Australia, proficiency in English is a mandatory requirement for Start-up visa applicants. Therefore, it is imperative for entrepreneurs wishing to apply for Start-up visas to prioritize improving their language abilities, if necessary.

D. Support networks

In addition to the economic and visa requirements for obtaining a Start-up visa, another crucial factor to consider is the level of support networks available in the country. Starting a business in a new country can be daunting and challenging, especially when it comes to navigating legal and bureaucratic processes. Therefore, having access to supportive networks and communities can make a significant difference in the success of a start-up.

Some countries have more established and robust support networks for start-ups than others. For example, the United States has a well-developed ecosystem consisting of venture capitalists, angel investors, incubators, and accelerators that offer mentorship and funding opportunities to entrepreneurs. Similarly, the United Kingdom has a thriving start-up scene with a plethora of resources, including co-working spaces, networking events, and government-backed funding schemes. On the other hand, some countries may be less established in terms of support networks and may require more legwork to build connections and find resources.

Comparison between countries for Start-up visas

When it comes to obtaining a Start-up visa, there are several countries to consider. Each country has different requirements and advantages for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business. Some of the top countries for Start-up visas include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

In the United States, the Start-up visa program was launched in 2017, aimed at entrepreneurs who have a substantial ownership interest in a start-up that has the potential for high growth and job creation. However, the program has faced some criticism for its stringent requirements and lengthy application process. In contrast, the United Kingdom's Start-up visa program is relatively new, having launched in 2019, and is focused on innovative and scalable businesses. The program has a streamlined application process and offers a wide range of support networks for entrepreneurs.

A. United States

The United States is a popular destination for entrepreneurs seeking to launch start-ups due to its innovative culture, easy access to capital, large market size, and favorable business environment. The US government offers several visa options for entrepreneurs to start and run a business, including the H-1B visa (for specialty occupations), L-1 visa (for intra-company transfers), the E-2 visa (for investors), and the O-1 visa (for individuals with extraordinary abilities).

The most popular option is the H-1B visa, which is designated for foreign nationals who have specialized knowledge and education in a particular field. However, this visa has become increasingly difficult to obtain due to the limited number of visas available each year and the high demand from foreign entrepreneurs. Additionally, the H-1B visa requires a lengthy application process and a significant amount of money, making it less accessible to early-stage start-up founders.

B. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a popular destination for Start-up visas due to its thriving tech scene, investment opportunities, and supportive government policies. The Start-up visa allows entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to come to the UK and set up a business. The visa is valid for two years and can be extended for an additional three years.

To qualify for a Start-up visa in the UK, applicants must have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea endorsed by a UK higher education institution or a business organization with a proven track record of supporting entrepreneurs. Applicants must also demonstrate their proficiency in the English language and have enough personal savings to support themselves during their stay in the UK. Successful applicants will receive endorsement letters from their sponsoring organizations, which they can use to apply for their visas.

C. Canada

Canada is widely regarded as one of the best countries to launch a startup. The Start-up Visa Program offered by the Canadian government is designed to attract entrepreneurs from around the world and provide them with opportunities to grow their business. The program provides a pathway to permanent residence for qualifying individuals and their families.

One of the biggest advantages of the Canadian Start-up Visa Program is that it has no minimum investment requirement. When applying, the entrepreneur only needs to secure investment and support from a designated Canadian organization, such as an angel investor group or venture capital fund. Another benefit is that Canada has a strong support network for entrepreneurs, including organizations such as the National Research Council of Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada. Additionally, Canada has a high quality of life and a diverse and well-educated workforce, making it an attractive destination for business owners.

D. Australia

Australia is known for its vibrant start-up ecosystem that has attracted entrepreneurs from all over the world. It is ranked as the fifth-best country for start-ups, according to the 2021 Start-up Genome report. The Australian government has also introduced several initiatives to support start-ups, including the Global Talent Visa program, which allows skilled workers to settle and work in Australia.

To obtain a Start-up visa in Australia, there are a few requirements that applicants must meet. Firstly, applicants must be endorsed by an Australian government-approved entity, such as an incubator or accelerator program. Secondly, applicants must demonstrate that they have a viable business plan and must show evidence of funding. Finally, applicants must have competent English language skills, as assessed by an approved English language test. If these requirements are met, applicants can apply for a temporary visa, which can lead to permanent residency if the start-up is successful.

E. Germany

Germany is fast emerging as an attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking to start their own ventures. The biggest advantage of applying for a Start-up visa in Germany is the level of financial support provided by the government. The German government has set aside a significant amount of funds to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in the country. This includes a Start-up support program, which provides access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Additionally, Germany has a well-established ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship with a high level of infrastructure, specialist accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces.

Apart from financial support, Germany's bureaucracy is also known for its efficiency, which is a major plus for those pursuing a Start-up visa. The visa application process in Germany is straightforward, and the visa is valid for three years. During this period, Start-up visa holders have the freedom to establish their businesses and can even extend their stay in the country beyond the visa's initial duration. However, one drawback of Germany's Start-up visa is the requirement for fluency in the German language. Despite this, the country continues to attract entrepreneurs due to its supportive ecosystem, vast domestic market, and excellent infrastructure.

Procedure for applying for a Start-up visa

The application process for a Start-up visa varies depending on the country you are applying to. Generally, the eligibility requirements tend to remain the same. Applicants must prove that their business idea is innovative and has potential for commercial success. The applicant should also be able to demonstrate their skills, experience, and financial capacity to make their business a success.

To apply for a Start-up visa, candidates will usually have to submit an application providing detailed information about their business idea, including a business plan or pitch deck. They will need to give proof of funding or letter of support from approved investors or venture capital firms. Applicants will also have to pass a language proficiency test, and provide documents related to their education and work experience. The process for application and review can typically take between four to sixteen weeks, depending on the country. It is important for applicants to be patient and wait for their application to be approved, and to seek guidance from experts or support networks to increase their chances of success.

A. Eligibility requirements

Before applying for a start-up visa, it is important to carefully review the eligibility requirements for each country. The requirements may vary depending on the country and the type of visa you are applying for. In general, applicants must be entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas that have the potential for growth and job creation. They must be able to speak the language of the country where they are applying, and have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their business.

In the United States, for example, applicants must demonstrate that they have a significant ownership interest in their start-up, and that their business has the potential for rapid growth and job creation. They must also be sponsored by a qualified investor, incubator, or government entity. In Canada, applicants must show that their start-up will be a unique and innovative business concept, and that they have the skills and experience to successfully manage and grow their business. Additionally, they must secure financial support from a designated organization, such as an angel investor, venture capitalist, or business incubator.

B. Application process and documents required

Once you have determined which country you would like to apply for a Start-up visa, it's important to understand the exact application process and documents required. Each country will have different requirements, but there are some general steps that will be similar across the board.

First, it's important to identify which entity in the country is responsible for processing Start-up visa applications. This may be an immigration agency or a specific department or program designated for entrepreneurs. Once you have identified this entity, you will need to compile the necessary documents. This will typically include a business plan, financial projections, evidence of funding, and proof of language proficiency. Some countries may also require a criminal background check or medical examination. Once you have all of the required documents, you will need to submit your application and pay any associated fees. The processing time for a Start-up visa application can vary, so it's important to understand the timeline and plan accordingly.

C. Timeline for approval

When applying for a Start-up visa, the timeline for approval can vary greatly depending on the country you are applying to. The United States, for example, has a notoriously lengthy application and approval process that can take up to several months. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has a more streamlined process that can take as little as three weeks. It is essential to research the timeline for approval in each country before deciding where to apply.

Canada has a unique process for Start-up visas where applicants receive a Letter of Support from a designated organization within the first few weeks of application. This provides applicants with temporary resident status, allowing them to arrive in Canada and receive funding and support for their Start-up. The full approval process can take up to 12 months, but the Letter of Support can provide valuable support to applicants during this waiting period. Understanding the timeline for approval in each country is crucial to planning and executing a successful Start-up visa application.

Success stories of Start-up visa holders

One of the most significant benefits of obtaining a Start-up visa is the opportunity it affords entrepreneurs to turn their innovative ideas into profitable, high-growth businesses. Many Start-up visa holders have successfully built and scaled ventures that have created thousands of jobs and generated billions of dollars in revenue.

One such success story is that of Zain Jaffer, an Indian entrepreneur who successfully launched and scaled Vungle, a mobile advertising platform, in the United States. Jaffer initially faced challenges in securing funding due to his foreign status, but he was able to overcome this barrier by leveraging his personal network and ultimately secured millions in funding from Silicon Valley investors. Vungle eventually grew to more than 200 employees and was acquired by Blackstone in 2019 for $750 million. This success story not only highlights the potential for foreign entrepreneurs to launch successful businesses in the United States but also underscores the importance of having a strong network and the ability to navigate complex regulatory processes.

Challenges to obtaining a Start-up visa

While obtaining a Start-up visa may seem like a great opportunity to kickstart one's entrepreneurial journey, it does come with its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant obstacles is meeting the strict eligibility criteria set forth by the host country's immigration authorities. For example, some countries may require the applicant to have a certain level of capital or funding available to start their venture. Others may require specific qualifications or a certain level of experience in business or technology. Meeting the requirements can be time-consuming and costly.

Another challenge to obtaining a Start-up visa is the intense competition that applicants face. Many aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world see Start-up visas as an excellent opportunity to launch their ventures in countries that offer favorable business ecosystems. As a result, the competition for Start-up visas in some countries is fierce, with many applicants vying for a limited number of spots. This competition can make obtaining a Start-up visa a daunting task for many entrepreneurs, especially those with limited resources or experience in navigating complex immigration processes.


In conclusion, obtaining a Start-up visa can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it can also offer great opportunities for entrepreneurs. Depending on individual circumstances, certain countries may be easier to secure a Start-up visa than others. It is important to carefully consider the economic environment, visa requirements, language proficiency, and support networks within each country before making a decision.

For those who qualify for a Start-up visa, the benefits can be significant. The potential to access funding, connect with other entrepreneurs and experts, and benefit from supportive government policies can all contribute to a successful business launch. However, it is important to note that there are also potential challenges and risks associated with starting a business in a new country. Careful research, planning, and support are key to having a positive Start-up visa experience.


1. Is it easier to get a Start-up visa in developed countries?

It may seem like developed countries would be the easiest places to obtain a Start-up visa, but this is not always the case. Economic factors, visa requirements, and language proficiency can all play a role in how feasible it is to obtain a Start-up visa. While the United States and the United Kingdom may have more developed ecosystems for startups, they also have more competition for visas and higher language proficiency requirements. Countries like Canada and Australia offer more supportive environments for startups, with lower language proficiency requirements and simpler visa application processes.

2. What are the most significant challenges to obtaining a Start-up visa?

One of the biggest challenges to obtaining a Start-up visa is meeting the eligibility requirements, which can be strict and vary by country. Another challenge is demonstrating the viability of your start-up to a visa board or immigration officer, as they will need to see that your business has the potential to succeed and create jobs in the country. Additionally, securing funding and support networks in a foreign country can be difficult, and language barriers may also present obstacles. Despite these challenges, there are success stories of entrepreneurs who have successfully obtained Start-up visas and built thriving businesses in new countries.

Alex Poloz