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These Countries Offer Visas for Entrepreneurs

We have written from time to time about the opportunities for entrepreneurs from other countries to obtain non-immigrant visas by investing in an existing business or by launching a new enterprise in the United States. These visas are part of the U.S. E-2 visa program.

These Countries Offer Visas for Entrepreneurs

Permanent residency is also available through the U.S. government’s EB-5 program for investors who, in addition to investing a substantial amount of capital, also meet several other important requirements.

We thought our readers may also be interested in learning about other countries that offer entrepreneur visa programs like the E-2 program in the U.S.

Most countries wish to increase the number of highly skilled people that immigrate to their nations. In addition, most countries wish to increase entrepreneurship which, in turn, will increase jobs. Many countries have found that an entrepreneur visa program is a very effective way to achieve both goals.

Our intent is not to provide all of the details of each program that we cite below. Rather, it is to give you a link to the websites that describe the programs in detail. You will then be able to compare programs and countries and decide which program best fits your specific requirements. We should mention that two things all of these programs have in common is that they each require a capital investment and they each require a comprehensive business plan that will document the nature of the business and how the business will successfully compete.

Here are the nations and programs we have identified:

  • United KingdomInnovator Visa. Requirements include a knowledge of English, at least £50,000 to invest, a valid passport, a business plan and at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply. The Visa is good for 3 years and it is renewable.
  • United KingdomStart-up Visa. You can apply for a Start-up Visa if you are endorsed by a UK higher education institution or a business with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. You must be at least 18 years old, speak English, and be able to prove that you can support yourself with at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply. This is a 2 year visa and it is not renewable.
  • DenmarkStart-up Denmark. Requirements include that your business idea must be approved by the government, proof that you can support yourself during the first full year, and you must participate actively in the management of the business.
  • SwedenResidence Permits for the Self-employed. Requirements include that you have experience in the business in which you intend to invest, knowledge of Swedish or English, that you will be running the business, and a capital investment of SEK 200,000 for you, SEK 100,000 for your spouse, and SEK 50,000 for each accompanying child.
  • IrelandStart-up Entrepreneur Program. Requirements include proof that your business has “high potential…in the innovation economy” and that you have access to €75,000 of funding.
  • SingaporeEntrePass. Requirements include a valid passport, past employment testimonials in English, a business plan, and $50,000 on deposit in a Singapore-based bank account. See how to start a business in Singapore easily.
  • New ZealandEntrepreneur Work Visa. Many detailed requirements must be met to qualify for this visa. The big ones include that you have minimum capital of NZ$100,000 and a business plan. Check out Sections L and O first.
  • AustraliaInvestors & Entrepreneurs Visa. There are 3 types of visas, and all require a substantial investment in capital and many other requirements including a business plan.
  • GermanyEntrepreneur Visa for Germany. “Entrepreneurs must have a strong Business Plan with a superior economic motive.” Other requirements include sufficient capital and past entrepreneurial experience and success. The government insists that there is “no threshold investment,” although €250,000 is recommended.
  • FinlandFinish Startup Permit. This is for innovative startup founders coming from countries outside of the European Union. After reviewing the eligibility criteria, if you are interested, you must also apply for an Entrepreneur’s Residence Permit. “If you want to work as an entrepreneur in Finland, you will need an entrepreneur’s residence permit. If you do not have a permanent residence in Finland or elsewhere in the EEA area, you must register your business operations in the Trade Register of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office before applying for an entrepreneur’s residence permit.” A business plan is required for both the Startup Permit and the Entrepreneur’s Residence Permit.
  • SpainEntrepreneur Visa Program. There are two visa possibilities under the new laws – an entrepreneur visa (one year) and an entrepreneur residency authorization (two years annually renewable) that can extend the time you’re allowed in the country. Both options allow citizens from non-EU countries the opportunity to start and build a business while living in Spain.
  • PortugalStartup Visa. StartUP Visa is a residence visa for entrepreneurs, which aims to attract investment, talent, and innovation to Portugal. This is one of the most innovative entrepreneurship programs across Europe that is attracting international talent.

There may be other similar programs that we have unintentionally omitted. If you know of one, please write to us and we will include that program in a future update. There is a Canadian program that we did not include because the capital requirements are very large and because at least some of the capital must come from Canadian investors.

Which of these programs best suits you? Once you have identified the one you want, go after it. These countries want your skill, talent, energy, and imagination. And don’t forget, our firm will help you along the way by assisting you in preparing a comprehensive immigration business plan suitable for the country of your choice.

Jimmy's background includes over 40 years in international, commercial, and investment banking, and nearly a decade as the principal shareholder and CEO of a rapidly growing manufacturing and distribution business in California. Today, Jimmy spends his time advising and consulting with entrepreneurs on matters related to business planning, as well as capital markets and funding strategies. Jimmy works with clients throughout the world in industries that include financial services, real estate, manufacturing and hospitality. View details.

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