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6 country visas for your startup

Posted on September 28, 2015
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Obtaining a visa is getting easier for entrepreneurs. 

In 2010, dozens of startup teams moved to Chile every six months on the invitation of the government. They were given visas, a $32,000 grant (CLP 20,000,000) and some mentorship.

Chile’s was a massive and audacious plan that inspired many North American and European countries. Now, there are thirteen countries with dedicated global entrepreneur-focused visa policies, of which ten were created over the past five years.  They all have the same goal of bringing talents, generating economic activity and creating jobs.

Those programs are a great opportunity for Arab startups to get some funding, get closer to big tech hubs and learn from more experienced startups. We’ve chosen to dig into some of them to give you an idea of the startup visas available.

Entrepreneur visa

A visa category with specific rules, requirements and rights that are different than a general work visa

United Kingdom

‘Entrepreneur visa’

Date of program’s launch: 2008

Capacity: In 2014, a total of 5,576 visas were issued, among which 4,487 visas were granted to entrepreneurs already in the country and 1,089 entrepreneurs outside the UK.

Duration: Three years

Ease of procedures:

  • Fee between £889 and £1,180 (aproximatively $1,470 and $1,800)
  • Acceptance rate of 88 percent during the last year
  • Must pass an entrepreneurship test
  • English language requirement


  • Access to at least £50,000 ($77,000) investment funds in order to apply

Advantages of this country:

  • Center of the European tech scene
  • Access to VCs and international workforce

The UK also offers two other visas, the Prospective entrepreneur visa and the Graduate entrepreneur visa, for entrepreneurs considering the UK and graduates who would need a little more time to qualify for the UK Entrepreneur visa.


‘Business Innovation and Investment Programme’

Date of program’s launch: 2012, replacing a program set up in 1992

Capacity: On average, 7,000 people come to Australia on the program annually.


  • Two visas providing permanent visas
  • One visa providing temporary visas

Ease of procedures:

  • Verify business credit history
  • Verify capacity to run a business


  • Minimum asset threshold of at least $650,000

Advantages of this country:

  • Close to Asia

Other countries offering startup visa:

Singapore and New Zealand

Fast-Tracked Visa for Entrepreneurs (Process)

A general work visa that is obtained through a fast-track application process specifically for entrepreneurs.


‘Italia Startup Visa’

Date of program’s launch: June 2014

Capacity: unknown

Duration: two years


  • Fail fast policy
  • Special taxation on start-ups that are favourable to investors
  • Access to crowdfunding

Ease of procedures:

There are two routes to apply for the visa, a direct start-up visa application or avisa application through a licensed incubator.

  • Online registration in English
  • Answer within 30 days
  • If approved, the entrepreneur may then apply for a work permit

One year after inception, the program has received 25 applications out of which 70 percent were approved.


  • €50,000 ($56,000) minimum capital

Advantages of this country:

  • Italy’s artistic and cultural heritage
  • Italy’s manufacturing scene from apparel to agro-food
  • in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, and represents the main thoroughfare linking Southern Europe to Northern and Central Europe by land
  • Pasta and gelato
  • A flexible, tailor-made employment law

The Netherlands

‘Residence permit for foreign startup’

Date of program’s launch: January 2015

Capacity: 35 applications have been received and four approved just four and a half months into the program


  • A year of residence
  • Guidance on starting a business

Ease of procedures:

  • €307 ($345)
  • Need to be sponsored by an experienced facilitator
  • Answer within 30 days


  • A business plan
  • Sufficient money to live in the Netherlands
  • An advisor who is an experienced facilitator based in the Netherlands.

Advantages of this country:

  • An ambitious governmental plan

Other countries offering fast-tracked visa

Spain, Ireland

Incubation (Program)

Temporary right-to-enter and work in a country given the individual is selected and actively taking part in an approved incubation program


‘Start-Up Chile’

Date of program’s launch: 2010

Capacity: three competitions each year resulting in the selection of 100 start-ups with on average two founders per startup.

In total, Start-Up Chile has attracted more than 2,000 entrepreneurs since 2010 whose businesses have raised more than $100 million in private capital.

The number of foreigners getting on the program and so visas issued at each round fluctuates from 100 to 150 including partners and dependents

Duration: Six months with renewal possibilities


  • 20 million Chilean Pesos of funding (around $35,000)
  • Space
  • Networking and mentoring
  • Discounts at partner companies

Ease of procedures:

  • Online


  • Take active part in the program for 6 months

Advantages of this country:

Start-Up Chile’s Admission Process for the 15th generation will start on 1st September at 0:00AM (Midnight Chilean Timezone) and will close on the 29th September at 11:59PM  

Read our report on Chile changemaker’s visit to Lebanon


‘Tech Ticket for foreign entrepreneurs’

Date of program’s launch: October 2015

Capacity: 50 entrepreneurs per session for an average of 25 projects (100 potential entrepreneurs a year over two sessions if the program is approved after the first pilot phase in Paris)

Duration: 6 months, renewable once


  • Fast-track procedure to obtain a residence permit and a Help Desk to provide assistance with red tape
  • €12,500 per founder, renewable at the end of the six months (around $14,000)
  • Free space in a partner incubator
  • Access to a senior mentor to support the startups growth and tailored programme of events
  • Lower price on Air France flights

Ease of procedures:

  • Online


  • Teams must comprise one to three founding members, and a maximum of one French person per team.
  • Teams must be in France for a minimum period of six months

Advantages of this country:

  • Three hours’ flight time from every European capital.
  • Its unique position and the presence of top universities, first-rate research labs, major companies and business incubators

The applications will close on September 15th

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