Back to Blog

Five Start-Up Visas You Should Know About

Published by
Date Published: August 7, 2023 | Date Updated: August 7th, 2023
By August 7, 2023 No Comments
5 Start-up visas you should know about - Savory & Partners

Residency by investment encompasses two main types of immigration channels: passive investment and active investment routes. 

Active investment refers to investments that require day-to-day management activities, mainly in the form of establishing a business. This is primarily dubbed “business immigration,” and even that has many different facets. 

One type of business immigration program that has become increasingly popular with both governments and investors alike in the past five years is the Start-Up Visa, which requires applicants to establish a business with an innovative idea in order to obtain a residency permit.  

It is important to note that the term innovative idea is a wide one and can refer to any of the following: 

  • An entirely new business idea
  • A new business in the country
  • A new way of practicing standard business operations
  • A new way of monetising a specific service or product, and more.

Various countries already have Start-Up Visas in place, while others are currently shifting toward this new trend in immigration, and this piece will cover the five most popular Start-Up Visa programs the world has to offer.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa

Arguably the world’s most renowned program of this nature, Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV), provides applicants with a chance to obtain a permanent residency in Canada if they establish an innovative business in the country.  

The SUV has a few simple requirements, as the applicant must: 

  • Have a clean criminal record 
  • Obtain an endorsement letter from a government-approved business incubator, angel investor, or venture capitalist 
  • Have sufficient funding for the business (from the investor or a third party) 
  • Have an English language proficiency of CLB 5 or more. 

The SUV does not have a minimum investment requirement, but a fair valuation for approval would be about CAD $160,000 (USD 120,000) to align with basic business start-up costs.

Business Migration – A Closer Look at Canada’s PNPs & Start-Up Visa

Once approved, SUV applicants gain permanent residence, and their immigration status does not hinge on the success of their business, and this matter is what makes the Canadian SUV such a popular option. 

After residing for three years on a permanent residency in Canada, SUV holders can apply for Canadian citizenship.

Citizenship by investment - Savory & Partners

Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) program is much simpler than the PNPs Visa program in terms of requirements.

Ireland’s STEP Visa

Ireland introduced its Start-Up Entrepreneur Program (STEP) in 2012, and it has remained in full force to this day. 

The program is simple enough, and it is the only one on the list that does not require any type of endorsement from a business incubator, angel investor, or any third party, as the Irish government analyses proposed business plans to deem them innovative or not. 

To qualify for the Irish STEP, an applicant must:

  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Submit an innovative business idea
  • Have access to €50,000 in funding 

Funding can be obtained from a third party, and successful applicants get a two-year visa, renewable for the same time-period as long as their business is active. After five years of residence, they can apply for permanent residence and then citizenship.

Portugal’s HQA Visa

Portugal has one of the better-known Start-Up Visas in its Highly Qualified Activity Visa (HQA), a simple program that also requires applicants to establish an innovative business to obtain a residence permit.  

To qualify, an applicant must:

  • Have a clean criminal record 
  • Submit an innovative business idea 
  • Register in a business incubator program with a government-approved incubator
  • Have sufficient investment means 

The HQA Visa does not have a minimum investment amount, although a sufficient amount for approval normally ranges around €175,000-€200,000 for standard business start-ups, but it has to eventually align with the proposed business.

Update: Portugal Golden Visa May Stay With New Changes

After being approved, HQA applicants will receive a two-year residency permit, renewable for the same period indefinitely as long as the business remains operational.  

After five years of continuous residence, HQA holders can apply for permanent residence and citizenship.

Citizenship by investment - Savory & Partners

Portugal’s pleasant climate plays an important role, as, with 300 days of sunshine, it is an amazing place to live in for entrepreneurs and Investors alike.

Netherlands Start-Up Visa

Netherlands’ immigration policy is well-renowned for being highly pro-business. The Dutch government has various business migration routes under its belt, but while most of them are complex, its Start-Up Visa (NSV) is one of the most straightforward routes to obtain Dutch residency. 

The NSV’s qualification criteria are very simple, as all an applicant must do to qualify is:

  • Be above 18 years of age 
  • Have a clean criminal record 
  • Have an innovative business idea
  • Work with a Dutch start-up facilitator
  • Submit a full application and a business plan
  • Have sufficient funds to reside in the Netherlands (70% of the annual minimum wage)
  • Aim to transfer their innovative idea into an actual business 

There is no minimum investment amount required, and the Dutch government does not limit facilitators to a list, but rather any person or entity that has experience in helping Start-Ups, is financially stable and has never filed for bankruptcy, and is not a family member of the third degree or closer.

Successful applicants will be awarded a one-year temporary residence permit, at the end of which they can switch to a self-employed residence permit and continue to reside in the Netherlands.

The Emerging Market of Greece Real Estate: Alternative Areas for €250,000

The innovative idea doesn’t necessarily have to be a completely new product or invention; it just has to meet one of the three criteria set out by the government:

  • The product or service is new to the Netherlands. 
  • A new technology for production, distribution, or marketing is involved. 
  • There is a new innovative organisational and process approach. 

Applicants can apply themselves through an embassy or a consulate, or their Dutch facilitator can apply online on their behalf, making the process extremely simple and quick.

Citizenship by investment - Savory & Partners

The Netherlands is known for its beautiful scenery, multicultural society, rich history and culture, and easy access to Europe.

Malta’s Start-Up Visa

The Maltese government recently enacted the Malta Start-Up Residence Permit (MSR) law, making the immigration program available to innovator entrepreneurs worldwide.  

The new program fits within Malta’s agenda to become a hub for innovative tech and top professionals, and the MSR’s simple process and requirements make it worth considering. 

To qualify for an MSR, an applicant must: 

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have an innovative idea and a business plan
  • Invest at least €25,000 into their start-up (for up to four founders, any more will require additional investment)
  • Not be a national of Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, or Venezuela
  • Spend six months in Malta a year to maintain their residence permit

For an idea to qualify as viable and innovative, it must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Offers products or services that demonstrate the ability to generate revenue from multiple geographic markets. 
  • Develops products or services that are novel, innovative, or significantly enhanced compared to similar offerings in the market.
  • Implements processes that are new or significantly improved compared to existing practices in related industries. 

The MSR is issued for an initial three years, and it is renewed for an additional five years for co-founders or an additional three years for core employees. After five years of continuous residence, a person can apply for a long-term residence permit, under which his status is no longer conditional on their business.

Caribbean Citizenship: Your Ticket to European Residency

Applicants can add their spouse and children to the application, and the process is expected to average three months, making it a very quick and simplified route to obtaining residence in Malta.  

Learn more about the world’s most interesting start-up visas, contact us today to talk to one of our experts and begin your residency by investment journey.


Apply Today  

Our Availability

We are available on every channel convenient for you.

Jeremy Savory

About Jeremy Savory

Jeremy Savory, the founder and CEO of Savory and Partners, runs one of the world’s leading HNW citizenship by investment firms. The second passport company has coverage in over 20 jurisdictions including Europe.

Citizenship Enquiry