If you are looking for a Startup Visa to relocate to another country, then both Canada and Portugal Startup Visa are great options. I’ll share my experience of applying for both.
I started this journey in July 2022 when I decided to move out of my home country to find better quality of life and future for my kids. My first thought was to apply for Portugal, since I knew a few people who had already applied and moved to Portugal on Startup Visa. While I was applying for Portugal, I also searched for other Startup programs and came across Canada Startup Visa Program. My wife has family in Canada and plus with access to the US market, it seemed like a good idea to apply for a Canada Startup Visa as well.
Canada Startup Visa
I have already written a detail article about What is Canada Startup Visa.
Portugal Startup Visa
This is the official website for Portugal Startup Visa. Although it has some basic information but figuring out how to apply was a totally different challenge.
Difference between Canada & Portugal Startup Visa Program
One major difference is cost of the program in Canada & Portugal. The Canada SUV program is pretty expensive compared to Portugal. For Canada SUV, I would recommend that you have at least CAD 100,000 in cash available at your disposal. You do not need to spend all of it but apart from covering incubator fees, you also need to show that you have enough funds available for settling in Canada with family and that you can invest in your business. If you want to know incubator fees, I have written an article about it here, Canada Incubator Fees.
For Portugal, the incubators don’t charge an upfront fee. Once getting accepted in the incubator, you have to pay a monthly fee which starts from 50 to 100 Euros per month. There is no other fee attached to the incubators, rest you have to show that you have funds available for settling in. The more funds you can show, the stronger is your case. At minimum, you should have 25,000-30,000 Euros.
For Canada, applying to incubators is the first step. Your application can not move forward unless you get a Letter of Support from a designated incubator. So, don’t do anything else other than gathering funds before you apply and get accepted by an incubator. Read about How to Apply to Incubators
In Portugal, the steps are a little different. I wasted a few weeks initially in reaching out to Incubators in Portugal. I was sharing my Pitch Deck and asking Incubators how I can apply for Startup Visa Program, but barely got any meaningful response from the Incubators. Figured out the reason much later when I filled my application at the official Portugal Startup Website that you first need to fill application form here, once you have completed all documents you apply to incubators from within the portal. All you need is acceptance from at least one incubator to move your application to visa stage, and everything happens within the portal.
Canada has a language requirement for Startup Visa Program. You have to give IELTS test with a minimum overall score of 5.5. I would recommend giving IELTS when you apply to incubators because they will ask you about your IELTS score and having a good score improves your chances of getting a Letter of Support. For example, in my case I had an over score of 8 which clearly showed that adjusting to an environment where almost everyone speaks English will not be a challenge for me. I am pretty sure that the incubator interviewer was a little impressed with this score, and I believe it helped.
There is language requirement for Portugal, only about 30% people in Portugal speak English. So if you are applying to Portugal, then you will have to learn Portuguese at some point. I think you have to give a Portuguese language test before you apply for a passport after 5 years.
Even though I had originally applied for Portugal but ended up going to Canada. I have my own personal reasons for making this decision. I thought Canada would be easier to settle in because of Language and ample Desi population everywhere. Plus, public schooling is free and with two kids this was a consideration. In Portugal also, public schooling is free, but primary language is Portuguese which will be a little difficult to adjust for kids.
My wife also had a lot of family in Canada, which made the decision easier. I know Canada is cold, but you can not get everything, I guess. This year will be my first winter here in Canada, and I will keep you guys posted on my experience of dealing with the winters. My 6yr old son is super excited about the snow, but my wife who has lived all her life in a hot and humid weather is dreading the cold already. I think I will have to invest in a Canada Goose jacket, at least for her.
I hope this information helps you in your quest for finding a new home. I had my reasons, and you will have to figure out in your own which option is the best for you and your family. Canada or Portugal.