Business immigration — startup visas
A startup visa is a full-fledged residence permit. Depending on the country, it is issued for a period of 1 to 5 years. Any entrepreneur who has a business plan or a product at the initial stage of development can apply for a startup visa.
Basic requirements for startups:
- Innovation. The idea of your business should be new and original, and the product should be different from that of competitors in the country's market.
- Relevance. The product or business must be useful for the national economy and have the potential for its development — for example, not just a coffee shop, but a coffee shop where people with special needs work.
- Scalability is an opportunity for further business growth. For example, changing geography or expanding the target audience.
- Business at the initial stage. It is important that a startup is not just an idea, but an already started business: it has a ready-made website, first orders, a product prototype, or a patent.
- Creation of new jobs. Some countries are waiting for foreign startups to create new jobs.
To get a startup visa, you need to submit a package of documents to the country's authorities that approve such projects. You can do this online or through the consulate. The commission reviews the business plan along with other documents and issues a verdict. The review period is from 5 to 30 business days depending on the selected country. If approved, the applicant must obtain a regular entry category D visa, and upon arrival exchange the startup approval for a residence permit.
Documents required for a startup visa:
- Business plan — detailed description of the idea, business development plan for 3-5 years, arguments on how the product can be useful for the country
- Resumes and motivation letters
- Confirmation of initial capital availability / statement from a local business incubator that it agrees to support the startup
- Completed visa application
- Proof of financial solvency
- Certificate of good conduct
- Fee payment receipt
A degree will be an advantage, but not in all countries. Passing language exams is also not required everywhere.
|Country||Visa||Visa duration||Max. number of people||Min. language level||Permanent residence|
|UK||Startup Visa||2 years||2||B2||2 years|
|Portugal||Startup Visa||2-3 years||5||None||5 years|
|The Netherlands||The Dutch Startup Visa||1 year||1||None||5 years|
|Denmark||Startup Denmark||2-3 years||3||B2||6 years|
|Estonia||Startup Estonia||1 year||No||None||5 years|
|Finland||Finnish Startup Permit||2 years||No||None||5 years|
|France||French Tech Visa||4 years||3||None||5 years|
|Germany||Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Ausübung einer selbständigen Tätigkeit||3 years||No||None||3 years|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong Visa for Entrepreneurs||1-3 years||No||None||7 years|
|Ireland||STEP||2-3 years||No||None||5 years|
|Italy||Italy Startup Visa||2 years||5||None||5 years|
|Latvia||Startup Visa||1 year||5||No||5 years|
|Poland||Startup Visa||1 year||1||No||5 years|
|Singapore||EntrePass||1 year||1||No||2 years|
|Sweden||Residence permit||2 years||1||B2||2 years|
Visa for talented persons
A talent visa can be obtained by a highly qualified specialist, recognized professional, or person of exceptional talent in any field — sports, arts, education, or business.
|Country||Program name||Validity period||Possibility to relocate for family members||Permanent residence|
|Australia||Global Talent Independent Program||Permanent||Yes||-|
|New Zealand||Talent Work Visa||2 years||No||2 years|
|USA||O-1 Visa||3 years||Yes||1 year|
|UK||Global Talent Visa||5 years||Yes||3-5 years|
|France||Talent Passport||4 years||Yes||5 years|
|China||Talent R Visa||5-10 years||Yes||-|
Australia — Global Talent Independent Program
This program is designed for professionals demanded in the following Australian sectors: agriculture, energy, healthcare, digital technology, entertainment, finance, and education. Internationally recognized athletes, artists, and researchers can also apply for a visa.
To get a talent visa, you need to be nominated by an Australian citizen or organization. Achievements must be confirmed: medals and awards, participation in exhibitions, or publications in a scientific publication. You must also pass an English proficiency test.
United States — O-1 Visa
Talent visas in the United States are issued to people with extraordinary abilities and achievements in science, education, business, the arts, or sports.
Requirements (at least 3 must be met):
- Have a national or international award in your field
- Participate in a professional association whose membership requires outstanding achievement
- Have publications about your professional successes in popular media
- Take part in evaluating the work of colleagues in your own or closely related field
- Make an original contribution to science, education, sports, or the arts
- Be the author of scientific articles in specialized publications
- Present your work at art exhibitions
- Hold a key position or play a significant role in a company or organization
- Receive wages above the market average or other remunerations — income from painting sales, royalties, or grants for research
In addition, a US employer is needed to obtain an O-1 visa, as it is he who will write the application for a talent visa. The visa is valid for 3 years and can be renewed once a year after this period. Family members can also legally stay in the United States until the visa expires. Minors are eligible to study in the US but cannot work.
The O-1 paves the way towards an EB-1A immigrant visa, which entitles you to a green card. To apply for a talent immigrant visa, you need to have a world-famous award — Olympic Medal, Oscar, Pulitzer Prize, and others. If there is no such achievement, at least three conditions from the list above must be met. The EB-1A visa is issued for six months and one single entry. After 2-3 months of entering the United States, a green card will be sent to you by mail.
The EB-1A visa can be obtained without an O-1, but having one makes the process easier. Upon transition, you must prove that you continue working in your applied field and still have the same merit as when applying for O-1. The EB-1A transition process typically takes 1 year.
New Zealand — Talent Work Visa / Talent Residence Visa
New Zealand has a Talent Work Visa for outstanding figures in culture, the arts, and sports. To get it, you need the support of a sponsor and New Zealand organization that has influence in your talent area.
In addition to the Talent Work Visa, New Zealand has a so-called accredited employer visa. It is issued if there is a contract with an employer accredited by the New Zealand Immigration Service. This visa allows you to live and work in New Zealand for up to 30 months.
After 2 years of living and working, you can apply for a Talent Resident Visa — permanent residence permit. You must still be working in a claimed talent area or for an accredited employer. Unlike the Talent Work Visa, the Talent Resident Visa entitles family members to move with the visa holder.
In addition, Australia and New Zealand offer special immigration programs for all foreigners. In New Zealand, this is the Skilled Migrant Category. It allows highly qualified specialists — people with a degree in a demanded specialty, work experience, and high IELTS score — to obtain a residence and work permit. Analogous to this is the SkillSelect program in Australia.
The application process for these programs is the same in both countries:
- Fill out a specific questionnaire — Expression of Interest. For each item (education, work experience, level of English) points are assigned. You need to score at least 160.
- Having scored the required number of points, submit an application for a visa with documents confirming your achievements.
- Wait for the final decision of the commission.
United Kingdom — Global Talent Visa
The Global Talent Visa allows the best specialists in certain fields (science and research, architecture, engineering, arts and culture, digital technologies) to live and work in the UK. It gives the right to work in different companies and change positions within a company without notifying the migration service. You can also go to university or start your own business.
To apply for a talent visa, you need to get approval from the competent authorities, such as the Royal Societies of Science and Medicine, the British Academy of the Humanities, or Tech Nation. It is necessary to demonstrate your skills, achievements, and leading role in the chosen field: the presence of patents, experience in implementing and using new technologies, publications in well-known media, and other evidence. Also, a visa can be obtained if you have an award in the declared area. After 3 years of living in the UK, you are eligible to apply for permanent residence.
The UK issues visas not only to recognized talents and professionals, but also to promising young people who are just starting their career path. To obtain such a visa, you need to prove that you already have achievements in the chosen field: participation in exhibitions and conferences, publications in journals and scientific publications, and so on. You do not yet have to be a leader in your field. With such a visa, you can apply for permanent residence after 5 years.
To get a British talent visa, you do not need to have a degree (of course, a PhD in the chosen field will be an advantage), language proficiency confirmation, or invitation from the employer.
France — Talent Passport
A French residence permit under the Talent Passport program can be obtained by:
- Founders of companies in France
- Developers and founders of innovative projects (startup visa)
- Highly skilled workers
- Foreigners who have received state or international recognition
- Research assistants aiming to conduct research, obtain a PhD, or teach in France.
Unlike other talent visas, it is more difficult to obtain a French visa — you need to provide proof of financial solvency for the entire period of stay in France. The source of income must be the talent sector, and the amount must be 70% of the average monthly salary in France. Confirmation can be a contract with a gallery, theater, or film studio, a grant for research, and so on.
After 5 years in France, holders of a Talent Passport can apply for permanent residence, after 10 years — citizenship. To do this, you will need to pass an interview at the migration service, confirm your language level, and pass an exam on the laws and culture of France.
China — Talent R Visa
China issues a specific visa to highly qualified foreigners to work in areas where there is a shortage of specialists. This program is known as the 1000 Talent Plan or the National Global Expert Recruitment Program.
Foreigners with a PhD are eligible for the Talent R Visa under the following conditions:
- Are not ethnic Chinese
- Are younger than 65
- Do not work in the humanities and social sciences
- Received a PhD outside of China
- Selected for participation in the talent program by accredited governing bodies
- Have high achievements in the professional field — Nobel laureates, scientists of the Academy of Sciences of their country, university professors from the top 200 international rankings, and others
- Were nominated for a Talent R Visa by the Chinese government
Talent R Visa holders receive 1 million yuan from the Chinese government. Researchers can apply for a grant of 3-5 million yuan. Participants of the 1000 Talents Program, as well as their spouses and children under the age of 18, enjoy preferential health care, social security, and pension benefits in the same way as Chinese citizens.
Remote work — Digital Nomad Visa
Amid the tourism crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have begun issuing long-term visas to remote workers. This immigration tool has been dubbed the "digital nomad visa", because remote employees are not tied to one place and can "roam" from country to country. The period of stay on such a visa is longer than on a tourist visa — from 6 months to 3-4 years. Digital nomads do not pay taxes and do not need to obtain a working residence permit. However, states put forward requirements for a minimum income and housing in the country. To obtain a visa, you need to prove your monthly income and the fact of employment in a company outside of the country issuing the visa.
|Country||Visa||Min. income/month||Duration of stay|
|Portugal||D7 Visa||734 USD||1 year|
|Mexico||Temporary resident visa||1,620 USD||1 year|
|Hungary||White Card||2,096 USD||1 year|
|Germany||Freiberufler visa||-||Up to 3 years|
|Iceland||Long-term visa for remote workers||7,763 USD||6 months|
|Dubai||Nomad Visa||5,000 USD||1 year|
|Croatia||Digital Nomad visa||2,096 USD||1 year|
|Malta||Nomad Visa||2,829 USD||1 year|
|Greece||Greece Digital Nomad Visa||3,668 USD||1 year|
|Estonia||Estonia Digital Nomad Visa||3,672 USD||1 year|
|Norway||Independent Contractor Visa||37,432 USD in the account||2 years|
|Brazil||Nomad Visa||1,500 USD||1 year|
Documents required when moving to work
- Birth certificate (often needed to extend a visa or obtain a residence permit)
- Invitation from an employer
- Certificate of non-conviction with a notarized translation
- Translated diploma of education with an apostille
- Marriage certificate with translation
- General power of attorney issued to relatives (so that you do not have to return to your homeland if your signature or personal presence is required)
- If you are moving with a pet, you need to receive a veterinary passport, vaccination, and microchip
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