Entrepreneurial Immigration and the Global Talent Race

july migrationAs the United States continues to stall on entrepreneurial immigration, several countries are joining the ranks of economies that have an immigration policy or program tailored for startup entrepreneurs attracted to the local ecosystem and market.


A new report by MiGreat, “Open Borders to Entrepreneurs”, seeks to compare the policies of countries that have created visas with the specific goal of attracting entrepreneurs to start new businesses. The count of countries offering a startup visa is now at least a dozen countries: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Canada and Chile. The report finds three broad types of start-up visas available today:

  • Entrepreneur visa: a visa category with specific rules, requirements and rights that are different than a general work visa.
  • Fast-tracked general work visa: A general work visa that is obtained through a fast-track application process specifically for entrepreneurs.
  • Incubation programs: Temporary right-to-enter and work in a country given the individual is selected and actively taking part in an approved incubation program.


The latest countries to invest in entrepreneurial immigration efforts are Denmark and France. The former, Startup Denmark, has launched a program modelled after StartUp Chile. The latter, called French Tech Ticket, has a narrower focus on tech startup entrepreneurs, and also has a diaspora engagement spin: teams who want to apply can include a one French founder who lives abroad.


It is important to note that many countries have a dual strategy of turning their ecosystem into a magnet of international entrepreneurial talent, while also creating such talent organically at home. Perhaps it is in that combination that they succeed in becoming the next leading “startup nation”.  

In the United States, the Start-Up Visa, originally introduced in Congress in March 2011, was designed to help retain top talent, creating a temporary immigrant visa which converts to a permanent residency after two years if certain conditions are met. The legislation introducing this Start-Up Visa has stalled.


An Era for New Research on Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Despite clear benefits of importing ambassadors of the startup mindset and talent in terms of economic growth and job creation (see these findings on the potential benefits to the U.S, economy, for example), the field of entrepreneurial migration remains to be explored in terms of long term impact. For example, how will these programs fare with regards to startup talent retention?


This will be one of the topics of the upcoming Startup Nations Summit in Monterrey, Mexico, which will gather the leaders behind the above mentioned initiatives for candid lesson-sharing.


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