Can’t Make it into America? Here Are 5 Alternative Nations With Encouraging Entrepreneur Visa Options


Help your business cross borders.

In addition to recent political shake-ups regarding controversial US entry policies, America has long been sliding down the totem of top spots to do business, so if you’re seeking out the land of opportunity you might want to look elsewhere. Other countries have enacted start-up and entrepreneur visas with an eye on attracting foreign talent to their start-up scenes (with immigrants twice as likely to start businesses as their native-born locals, it’s just good sense), and we’ve rounded up five places to venture, with your venture.

Don’t let the fact that it’s a big ol’ desert fool you. Australia’s soil is as fertile as it comes for a fledging start-up, and reportedly nurtures the highest number of incoming entrepreneurs in the world. In addition to its stable economy and robust ties with Asia, Australia’s media – along with the average Aussie punter – tend to be more embracing of experimental ideas, making it an ideal testing ground (the Tesla Powerwall battery launched in Oz, as did McDonald’s McCafe). Ready to move down-under? The new Australian Entrepreneur visa allows entrepreneurs with AU$200,000 in funding from a specified third party to develop and commercialise their ideas.

The Chilean Government kicked off a global game-changer with it’s Start-Up Chile (SUP) seed accelerator program, inviting entrepreneurs to “bootstrap their start-ups” using Chile as a launch pad to scale from Latin America to the world. Taking in 200-250 companies each year, Start-Up Chile’s one-year working Entrepreneur visa is known as one of the cheapest around because they front up the funding, and then there’s the low cost of living in Santiago – around US$1000 to $1500 per month – to sweeten this entrepreneurial spot (not to mention the fact that Chile is ranked 6th in the global index for women entrepreneurs).

The land of the maple leaf is considered the most welcoming to entrepreneurs, offering the world’s only permanent resident visa to up-starts, regardless of whether your business flourishes or flops (although temporary visas in other countries are usually quite easy to renew). There’s also a bunch of backing on the ground, with government grants such as FedDev Ontario and the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) offering support, mentorship and financing for new businesses. Tax credit, too, is a perk of working in the world’s second-largest country, with companies able to claim upwards of 50 per cent back from any cash they spend on R&D.

Singapore’s entrepreneurial landscape has enjoyed a healthy growth spurt over the last decade, hosting a thriving start-up community within world-famous hubs such as Block 71 – a site long slated for demolition that now houses more than 250 start-ups, 30 incubators, accelerators and venture capitalists (and scored the title of “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem” from the Economist). Designed to lure innovative business and brains from far and wide, Singapore’s EntrePass will get you amongst it – provided your application is sponsored for $SGD3000 by a local company.

Expat businesses are going bonkers in Copenhagen (particularly those belonging to mumpreneurs, so says Your Danish Life magazine) because, well, who wouldn’t want to start their own thing on the smiling streets of the happiest country in the world? The Danish Government’s Start-up Denmark visa scheme invites “innovative, scalable and, ideally, tech-driven businesses with a clear growth potential” to uproot and re-pot in it’s buzzing start-up scene, while similar fast-track schemes have rolled out across Europe in Italy, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands.

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