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IMAGO / agefotostock


Visas for visionaries

Startup visas as instruments of economic, innovation and immigration policy

The growing international competition for young and talented entrepreneurs has led to more and more countries introducing the so-called startup visas over the past decade. They have been developed above all in OECD and EU countries as a springboard for foreign founders with innovative ideas.

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The world's strongest startup ecosystem in the USA is characterized by a high number of foreign startup founders. More than half of the most valuable startups (“unicorns”) in the USA were founded by immigrants. The foreign startup founders bring creative ideas, have experience and networks from abroad, and drive the economies by introducing new technologies. In order to compete with the USA, many countries have introduced measures such as startup visas to promote the growth of startup ecosystems. The main goal of startup visas is to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem, drive economic growth and innovation, and strengthen the competitiveness of national economies in the globalized knowledge economy.

To compete with the Silicon Valley, startup visa programs are a first step, but they cannot be the final solution. Startup visa programs are a prerequisite for attracting international startup founders, who can be crucial for the further development of startup ecosystems as well as the development of a startup culture. Startup visas can be understood as being complementary to the traditional forms of labor migration. However, the number of people who have received this type of visa is still small. Nonetheless, the example of Estonia shows that with the right instruments and the right implementation, startup visas have the potential to significantly influence the development of technologies and innovative ideas in the country.

Read the entire paper titled “Visas for visionaries, startup visas as instruments of economic, innovation and immigration policy” here as a PDF.

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Jana Lajsic

Lajsic, Jana

Trainee des Auslandsbüros Argentinien +54 11 4326-2552


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