Which will be first to implement a Start-up visa: the US or the EU?

With so many governments launching start-up visa schemes this year, it makes us wonder whether the US or the EU will be first to start a comprehensive multi-state (in the EU case, multi-country) level.

Start-up Visas programs spreading like mushrooms
So far in 2015 Denmark, France and the Netherlands have already launched national programs to attract foreign entrepreneurs to start companies. Their visa schemes have a few things in common, not the least of which is to offer fast-track and specific processes to foreign entrepreneurs – with special guidance from local incubators to navigate the system. Denmark and France have put quotas in place. The Netherlands (wisely) has not.

European Countries Startup Visa Policies Map

In total, 7 countries in Europe have created start-up visa schemes, two that are outside of the Schengen area (Ireland & the UK).

In the US, strong business and tech lobbies have been pushing for an immigration reform that would introduce a US start-up visa. President Obama announced that the US will make it easier and faster for entrepreneurs to come to the US and start businesses but nothing has yet happened.

Meanwhile, a national non-profit was launched to help implement a fix to the US start-up visa process in places beyond Massachusetts and Colorado (where the program has already been launched). The Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program enables talented graduates to be sponsored by a US university and gain relevant part-time work experience while allowing them to work on their start-up.

Local & national schemes
All of these local initiatives have emerged due to the deadlock around immigration reforms presented at the US federal or EU level. As well as out of frustration from bureaucratic visa rules leaving talented migrants with no options other than leaving the country they are living in. These initiatives may be limited in their scope, however, they are growing in numbers and popularity. This is leading to other countries, like Israel and Germany, considering the implementation of similar programs.

Both Brussels and Washington are discussing ways to navigate and understand how start-up visa policies can benefit their respective economies and fit their long term objectives. Adeo Ressi, CEO of the Founder Institute, spoke with Forbes about White House representatives visiting Palo Alto in January and the strong desire from President Barack Obama to sign an executive order this year. Migreat has spoken at meetings in Brussels with several representative of the EU commission that is exploring ways to introduce a start-up visa directive that would fit in the 2020 EU agenda.

These programs could well provide the spark for the US and/or the EU to launch programs that attract talent, create jobs and foster innovation on a larger scale. The question that remains is whether the EU or the US will be first get started?

With the 2016 presidential election already ramping up in the US and the sensitivity around immigration in Europe, it is our bet that the US will be first; which means that for Europe to gain an advantage, the EU will need to create a better deal for foreign entrepreneurs than the US.

Download Migreat’s #StartupVisa report to learn more about the 13 countries that offer visa schemes for entrepreneurs worldwide.

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