There are more than a dozen countries in the world today that have a specific visa program aimed at startup founders. A disruptive startup idea has the potential of accelerating innovation in the economy along with other benefits like rapid job growth, wealth creation, and development of related business ideas and ventures.
Here is a look at startup visas offered by five developed countries including Canada, and an analysis of what makes Canada’s Startup Visa one of the best and most popular visa program for startup entrepreneurs.
Under the Business Innovation Stream, a startup founder must invest at least AUD 2.5 million to qualify for the right to live in the country for up to five years. He/she must then apply for permanent residence separately as the initial visa is just a temporary residence visa.
UK has a startup visa without any minimum investment requirement. However, you qualify only if you can prove that your business idea has scope for growth and is a new and innovative one without any peer or competitor in the market.
The latter requirement is fulfilled only if you get an endorsement from a UK higher education institution or any business organization providing support for UK entrepreneurs. If you qualify, you get permission to stay in the county for up to two years.
Ireland requires startup founders to have an innovative business proposal and invest at least €50,000 in the country.
Singapore has an EntrePass visa where you must deposit at least $50,000 and setup a company that has either obtained funding from venture capitalists or owns innovative technologies. The startup found qualifies for a one-year visa that can be renewed for up to two years at a time.
Canada’s Startup Visa (SUV) is unique because it combines the pluses of virtually all other popular startup visas across the world without any real or significant negative.
Canada’s Startup Visa does not have any minimum investment requirements. You must own at least ten percent stake in the venture and no other party or investor must have majority stake in ownership. Up to five founders can setup a startup together and apply for the visa.
The most important requirement to qualify is to obtain funding from Designated Organizations, which include Venture Capital funds, Angel investor groups, and Business Incubators. Minimum funding requirement varies depending on the source of investment.
- $200,000 or more from venture capital funds, or
- $75,000 or more from one or more angel investor, or
- Zero investment if accepted into a Business Incubator program.
An applicant qualifying for the startup visa gets direct permanent residence in Canada and your PR status is not dependent on the success or failure of your venture. You have the option of getting an open work permit and entering Canada even before your SUV application is approved. But this is completely your choice, and you can, if you wish, work in your startup only after you have become a Canadian permanent resident.
It is not mandatory that your startup idea must be completely new in the market or that your business must own new technologies. You need not make any deposits and there are no minimum net worth requirements.
You can qualify as long as you can convince investors to back your project. Unlike the UK where startup ideas are assessed and endorsed by educational institutions too, the process in Canada is focused on those with hands-on experience investing in disruptive startup ideas.
Further, you also have the option of exploring Entrepreneur streams of provincial nomination programs of different Canadian provinces. Minimum investment and net worth requirements are likely to be tougher as compared to the SUV, but this is an option that you can explore before finalizing your decision.
If you are an internationals student graduating from Canada, then you can explore International Graduate Entrepreneur streams of PNPs as well. These streams have very low to no minimum net worth requirements and very low investment requirements as well.
If you have a great startup idea as a student, then the Post-Graduation Work Permit combined with the Startup Visa can help you easily qualify for permanent residence quickly after graduating from your course.
Finally, Canada’s dynamic startup universe, its reputation as one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in North America, and its proximity to the US market makes it the first and smartest choice for startup founders with disruptive and innovative startup ideas.