May 26, 2024

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Immigration series | Startup visas to UK, Canada and 5 more countries: key requirements



a tall building in a city: Immigration series | Startup visas to UK, Canada and 5 more countries: key requirements


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Immigration series | Startup visas to UK, Canada and 5 more countries: key requirements

Several countries offer startup visas, a conditional residence permit inviting entrepreneurs who either raise funding and/or are looking for a permanent stay afterwards.

Here’s a pick of 7 countries and the key requirements of their startup visa programs:

ESTONIA

One of the most popular startup visa programs in the world, there are 1,000 startups currently operating in Estonia.

Key requirements:

1. A foreign founder (i.e., someone who is attempting to come from outside the European Union (EU) to start a business in Estonia), or

2. An Estonian employer (i.e. an Estonian who has a startup and is looking to bring someone from outside the EU to work at it).

3. Be an innovative tech-based business with growth potential.

4. Is approved by the Official Estonian Startup Committee (which must certify that your business indeed qualifies as a startup under the terms of the program).

5. When applying for a startup visa, it is required that the applicant holds a minimum of €140 for every month planned to spend in Estonia.

Duration:

Startup visas are available in two periods of stay:

1. 3 months (short term), or

2. 1 year (long-term), with an option to extend it for an additional 183 days.

After 18 months are up, startup visa holders can seek a permanent form of Estonia immigration, such as residency, which could ultimately lead to Estonian citizenship.

Fee: Estonian start-up visa fees are Euro 80 per application

CANADA

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada.

Key requirements:

1. Have a qualifying business (qualifying business means you created a business that meets the following conditions: At the time you get a commitment from a designated organisation, each applicant holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time [up to 5 people can apply as owners]; and applicants and the designated organisation jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time).

2. A letter of support from a designated organisation such as angel investors, business incubators, and venture capital fund.

3. Meet the language requirement (take a language test given by an agency that is approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and include the results with your application), and

4. Prove that you have sufficient amount of money to support yourself.

Quebec

The Province of Quebec is in charge of its own business immigration program. If you plan to live in Quebec, visit Quebec’s immigration website

AUSTRALIA

The Investors and Entrepreneur visa allows you to own and manage a business in Australia, conduct business and investment activity in Australia or undertake an entrepreneurial activity in Australia.

The program offers three types of visas, including: two types of Business Innovation and Investment visas, and a Business Talent visa. Each one of them requires a different size of capital, proof of knowledge of English and a business plan.

Business Innovation stream

Key requirements:

1. This provisional visa is for people with business skills. It lets you operate a new or existing business in Australia.

2. You must operate a new or existing business in Australia.

3. You must be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government agency.

Stay: Up to 5 years.

Fee: From AUD6,085

Processing time: 75% of applications: 31 months; 90% of applications: 33 months

Investor stream

Key requirements:

1. Invest at least AUD2.5 million in Australian investments that meet certain requirements and maintain business or investment activity in Australia.

2. You must be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government agency.

Stay: Up to 5 years.

Fee: From AUD6,085

Processing time: 75% of applications: 24 months: 90% of applications: 30 months

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Significant Investor stream

Key requirements:

1. You must invest at least AUD5 million in compliant, significant investments in Australia that meet certain requirements and maintain investment activity in Australia.

2. You must be nominated by an Australian State or Territory government agency or Austrade.

Stay: Up to 5 years

Fee: From AUD8,925

Processing time: 75% of applications: 26 months; 90% of applications: 32 months

UNITED KINGDOM

Key requirements:

1. You must be able to show that your business idea is: a new idea – you cannot join in a business that is already trading; an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market; and has potential for growth.

2. You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either a UK higher education institution; or

a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

Stay: You can stay for 2 years if you: come to the UK on a Start-up visa; or

Switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK.

You cannot apply to extend this visa.

You may be able to switch to an Innovator visa if you set up a business while on a Start-up visa and your endorsing body assessed and agreed it; it is active, trading and sustainable; and you have day to day involvement in it.

Processing time: 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK;  8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK.

IRELAND

The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) was introduced by the Irish government in 2012. It is meant for innovative entrepreneurs who want to establish their business and reside in Ireland on a full-time basis.

Key requirements:

1. Person of good character;

2. Have not been convicted of criminal offences in any jurisdiction;

3. Have the required €50,000 funding available;

4. Have an innovative business proposal;

5. You must establish the business as outlined in your application;

6. You must work on this business on a full-time basis;

7. You are not permitted to be employed in any other capacity;

8. You must not become a financial burden on the Irish State.

Fee: Pay the application fee of €350 by electronic fund transfer. This fee is non-refundable. Applications will not be processed until the fee has been paid in full.

THAILAND

Smart Visa is a new type of visa specially designed to attract highly skilled manpower, investors, executives and startups entrepreneurs wishing to work or invest in targeted industries in the Kingdom of Thailand.

The program is divided under several categories:

Smart T (Talent):

1. Highly skilled professionals in the targeted industries;

2. Science and technology experts;

3. Salary ≥ 100,000 baht/month;

4. Employment contract with remaining validity of ≥ 1 year;

5. Employing companies being in the targeted industries.

Smart I (Investor):

1. Investors in technology-based business in the targeted industries;

2. Minimum direct investment of 20 million baht;

3. Investing in companies using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and being in the targeted industries.

Smart E (Executive):

1. Senior executives in technology-based companies in the targeted industries;

2. Holder of Bachelor’s degrees or higher with work experience ≥ 10 years;

3. Salary≥ 200,000 baht/month;

4. Employment contract with remaining validity of ≥ 1 year;

5. Working for companies using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and being in the targeted industries.

Smart S (Startup)

1. Technology-based startup entrepreneurs in the targeted industries;

2. Deposit of ≥ 600,000 baht which has been held for at least 3 months

3. Health insurance

4. Participating in an endorsed incubation, accelerator program or a similar program/or obtaining joint venture with or being endorsed by a relevant government agency

5. Must set up a company in the targeted industries in Thailand within 1 year with at least 25% ownership or being a board member

Smart O (Other) for Spouse and Legitimate children of Smart Visa holders:

1. Must be the legal dependents (spouse and children) of Smart visa holder Type T , I, E or S (except those who are granted only 6-month visa)

2. Children must be under 20 years old (exception: children of Smart T holders who are over 20 years old can apply for Smart O under certain conditions).

3. Spouses and children must have an additional amount of deposit of no less than 180,000 baht per person or equivalent is required in a bank account in Thailand or in the country of his/her nationality or residence, which has been held for at least three months (only for Smart S followers).

Stay: Smart Visa permit is for 4 years

SINGAPORE

The EntrePass allows eligible foreign entrepreneurs to start and operate a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies. It is open to all nationalities.

Key requirements:

1. Have started, or intend to start, a private limited company registered with ACRA that is venture-backed or owns innovative technologies;

2. If registered, the company must be less than 6 months old on the date you apply;

3. If not registered, you can do so after you know the outcome of your application;

4. Past employment testimonials in English;

5. Singapore $50,000 on deposit in a Singapore-based bank account.

Businesses that are not eligible for an EntrePass:

1. Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts

2. Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges

3. Foot reflexology, massage parlours

4. Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses

5. Employment agencies

6. Geomancy business

Stay: New pass and first renewal: 1 year; Subsequent renewals: 2 years

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