What Is a Startup Residence Visa?

Has the allure of working abroad always appealed to you, or perhaps it’s a prospect you’re only newly considering? Luckily, many countries are equally, if not more, eager to attract and welcome individuals just like you.

Countries are always on the lookout to attract talented and innovative business-minded individuals to set up shop with them. It’s for this reason that several offer various forms of startup residence visas, also known simply as startup visas. These permits aim to entice entrepreneurs to cast their eyes away from their home country and consider the exciting prospect of establishing themselves in a fresh new environment.


Why Do Countries Offer Startup Visas?


The idea of countries around the globe wanting to attract international talent to their shores is a relatively unsurprising notion. After all, there are huge benefits that come from doing so, namely that this will help these countries foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and a fresh perspective of creativity which can subsequently help boost their economies.

Startup residence visas can help to facilitate this, aiding entrepreneurs in the process of setting up a business and beginning a new professional journey overseas.

So, for any enterprising individuals or digital nomads considering taking the leap and kicking off their business in greener pastures, here’s what you can expect from applying for a startup residence visa overseas.

Exploring Common Features of Startup Visas


If you are curious about what to expect when it comes to a startup visa, it is important to note that terms and regulations vary from country to country and there is no one structure or set of rules for a startup visa. It is vital that you take the time to compare these against each other to find the visa that best suits you and your professional ambitions.

A number of common features that you can expect startup visas to detail are as follows:

  • Initial Criteria – To begin with, every startup residence visa will have a set of criteria you must first meet before you can apply. This is typically along the lines of having a viable business plan they can assess, having a certain amount of funding, evidence that you can financially support yourself, and so on. All this will be carefully assessed so that the board may determine whether your business idea has the potential for success and subsequent growth in the host country
  • Duration – You may be enticed by the idea of leaving everything behind and setting out to permanently work abroad, or perhaps you had envisioned just working abroad for a few months. Alas, things are not always so simple. The duration of each startup residence visa will vary and may be anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Most offer a temporary visa which may be renewed to permanent status granted if all goes well, but each will have its own unique application process to get to this stage
  • Extra Aid – Several countries understand that upping sticks and starting a business abroad can be a daunting venture. As such, some offer additional support to applicants. This may involve encouragement to partake in networking opportunities and mentorship in addition to suggestions of co-working spaces to aid you in seamlessly integrating your personal and professional life into its working culture
  • Family Members – It may be the case that you wish to bring over immediate family members when settling to work abroad. In certain cases, startup residence visas may provide aid so that an entrepreneur’s family can join them upon relocating


Global Opportunities: Countries with Startup Visas


Unfortunately, startup residence visas are not universally offered, and their terms vary from country to country. Time to delve into the countries that do and don’t offer these handy permits and take a look at some of the most accessible and advantageous startup visa options in 2023:

UK Startup Visas

To begin with, the UK. Alas, while the UK did offer a form of startup visa, you can no longer apply. However, the UK government site does inform readers that, if they already have a startup visa, they may be able to apply for an Innovator Founder visa if their startup visa is close to expiring.

Lithuanian Startup Visas

Lithuania is quickly evolving into a hot spot for innovative-minded founders to establish a business. With the startup visa it offers, there’s never been a better time to make the move to this beautiful Baltic country. Lithuania’s startup visa provides an accessible and streamlined way for non-EU entrepreneurs to become seamlessly integrated into this fantastic community.

Although capital requirements are lower than several other similar permits, applications must be able to present an innovative business plan that covers your professional growth plans for the first couple of years of residency. This permit allows you to settle in Lithuania for two years with the possibility of renewal for a further three years.

Canadian Startup Visas

Perhaps one of the best-known startup visas is the permit offered by Canada. Canada’s Startup Visa Programme aims to attract immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills to build businesses in the country. In order to apply, applicants must be able to pitch their startup idea to a dedicated organisation to get their support. Applicants must also meet language and financial requirements to be granted this visa.

Estonian Startup Visas

If you are a non-EU national who is intrigued by the prospect of settling into the thriving hub of Estonia, you may be able to apply for a startup visa. However, in an effort to expand their tech scene and place it more firmly on the global map, applications must have a plan for a technology-based startup that packs innovation, creativity, and the potential for large-scale growth. With a quick processing time and the green light to bring along your family members, there’s never been a better time to consider Estonia as your new professional home.

Estonia also offers slightly more flexible startup visa options. If you have not yet established an Estonian company, you may apply for either a short-term visa that lasts for up to three months, or for a long-term permit which lasts for a year. If you have already set up an Estonian company, you can apply for either the aforementioned visas or for a temporary residence permit of up to five years.

Danish Startup Visas

Startup Denmark is another fantastic option for foreign entrepreneurs, available to all non-EU and non-EEA citizens. This permit may be granted if your business plan is approved by a panel which, if done so, can last for up to two years. Applicants must also be able to prove that they can financially support themselves upon relocating, as the programme will not offer any capital or other monetary aid to entrepreneurs.

Latvian Startup Visas

If you haven’t considered Latvia as a potential stomping ground, then it’s time for you to get to know. Latvia offers a startup visa to all non-EU startup founders who are looking to kickstart their exciting innovations on its turf. Information including a business model, information about its market growth, a product R&D plan, and so on, must all be provided in order to be granted this temporary residence permit. The timeframe of this visa is comparatively longer than some of the others on this list, offering an initial three years to applicants.

Netherlands Startup Visas

With a true focus on creativity and innovation, the Netherlands is only looking for applications that are able to bring a new product or service, or a startup that has a completely fresh way of operating, to the country. Upon submitting a step-by-step plan detailing your business idea, you will then work with a mentor, or a facilitator, to ensure you meet all requirements. Applicants must also be able to prove that they can financially support themselves. Once you’ve sent through for a startup visa, there is a relatively speedy waiting time of 90 days before you will be given the green light.

Finland Startup Visas

For entrepreneurs who would be willing to establish a startup in Finland, now is a great the time to go for it. Finland offers a residence permit to any startup entrepreneurs who are able to provide a business plan, details on how you can expect your business to grow, and the team you intend to kickstart it. Applicants will need to visit a Finnish embassy in order to complete the process and move to this strikingly scenic nation to begin a new chapter of their professional journey.