Visas and Benefits for Tech Founders in Asia

Elise Jiang
Feb 5, 2019 · 7 min read

With the world economy witnessing major developments, emerging Asian markets are projected to continuously bloom while offering fresh opportunity in the decades ahead. Such high level of growth is spreading across the entire Asia-Pacific region, yet each market is charging forward at very different momenta and present different challenges to foreign entrants.

On the other hand, government entities are actively rolling out incentives to attract foreign investments and entrepreneurs. In the excerpts below, we will provide a high-level overview of packages and benefits offered by these respective markets.


Image via BDG Vietnam

The government of Vietnam offers flexible tax incentives that apply toan array of industries, here is a quick glimpse of what’s on offer:

· New entrepreneurial projects are exemptedfrom corporate tax for the first four years

· Exemption from import duty on raw material for the first fiveyears

· Exemption on repatriation of profits and the land use fees

· Swift assistance by the government in immigration procedures

· Government help to source loans from local banks at an attractive rate

· If eligible, you could get preferential tax rates for the entire duration of the investment

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


Image: aotaro/Flickr

The government of Singapore offers multiple incentives packages for entrepreneurs through government funding and tax credits, such as:

· Varying degrees of tax exemptions / tax relief for qualifying corporations operating in Singapore

· Deduction for qualifying expenditures for R&D, IP registration, and IP licensing

· Mergers and acquisitions allowance allows a write-off of 25% of the value of qualifying mergers or acquisitions deals

· Special tax incentives for financial services

· Designated visa for foreign entrepreneurs, innovators, or experienced investors (EntrePass)

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Corporate Tax Credits and Incentives — (Link)

✓ Government Incentives and Schemes — (Link)


Image via Indonesia expat

Indonesia seeks out foreign investment:

· The government has already scrapped old regulations restricting foreign ownership in most industries

· There’s been a revision of rules to acquire business licenses in the oil and gas, mineral resources industry to further boost investment in the sector — with a cut in the taxes at each step

· Tax benefits include accelerated depreciation or amortization on new investment plans which are focused on business expansion

· The government has plans for substantive income tax deductions (up to 200 percent) for R&D companies

More here:

✓ Business visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link) (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


Image via Corporate Compliance Insights

An Indian SEZ (Special Economic Zone) offers:

· Duty-free import for the maintenance of your organization

· Depending upon the timeline, there is variable income tax exemption for foreign investors

· New ventures get an exemption from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and imposed by state governments

· External commercial borrowing (ECB) is allowed up to US$500 million a year making it a great opportunity to offer new infrastructure options in a special economic zone

More here:

✓ Business Visa & Investor Residency Program — (Link) (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


Image via e27

As an investor, there are many advantages in Malaysia:

· Valuable duty exemptions on imports of raw materials and components

· Malaysian companies that buy patents, models, and trademarks from abroad can speed up the tax deductibility of such transactions allowing for a 100% write-down over five years — thereby lowering the organization’s tax bill

· Malaysian government offers a ten-year incentive to companies operating in R&D, manufacturing or technical training

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


Image via Techsauce

Thailand’s SEZs enjoy some tax and non-tax incentives:

· Introduction of “Smart Visa” which allows the foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the country for whole one year. The trained tech workers and eligible corporate executives can stay for four years

· Attractive corporate income tax exemption for new ventures

· Reduced import duty on industrial inputs used in manufacturing

· Heavy deductions for any expense related to transportation and power supplies for the first ten years

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link) (Link)


Image via ChainNews

Taiwan has a lot of positives going in its favor, including:

· The geographical closeness with an economic giant like China helps a lot

· The government is proactive and undertakes regular growth initiatives

· Effective protection of intellectual property rights

· A competent electronics manufacturing industry (with sturdy prototyping capabilities)

· Taiwan has already proven to be an ideal location for MNC’s to establish their R&D bases

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link) (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


Image via Winshang News

With an investment-friendly environment, here’s what China has to offer:

· Government is eager to develop infrastructure with a constant focus on developing workforce skills

· Special initiatives to offer lower transaction costs enabling foreign investors to earn fast returns on their investments

· Dependingonyour industry, you can find attractive tax breaks, low-cost government loans, andsubsidies

· Foreign firms are exemptedfrom withholding taxes on profits which they reinvest in a select group of industries categorized by the government

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)

*Please note that due to US-China economic tensions, some of these benefits may no longer be available. There has been signs of harder regulations and more red tape on China’s side to arbitrarily punish American businesses there due to trade tensions. (Link)

*The US department has implemented visa control on Chinese nationals and has also issued travel warnings, meaning the Chinese government may choose to spontaneously reciprocate. (Link) (Link)


Image: Chris Butera/ai-cio

The government is taking serious initiatives to welcome foreign entrepreneurs:

· Programs to remove language barriers and improving internet connectivity

· Initiatives to improve the living environment for the families of the foreign investors and entrepreneur

· Enhanced dialogue between government and foreign entrepreneurs to understand their concerns

· Concrete steps to simplify the regulations and procedures pertaining to the foreign investors

· Introducing generous tax breaks for new investors

· New ventures get a valuable tax credit for creating local jobs

More here:

✓ Entrepreneur visa program — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits — (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)


The government has introduced various incentives aimed at attracting FDI while moving towards nurturing its startup ecosystem:

· Special visa point-system specifically targeted at foreigners who wants to establish a technology-based startup in Korea

· Tech incubators to support promising foreign startups

· Tax support or cash grant by the government’s FDI incentives

· Special tax deductions for SMEs engaged in qualified business

· Tax credit for R&D, technology transfer among SMEs, merger and acquisitions of technology innovative SME

· Investor Visa granted to foreign investors that allows free economic activities

More here:

✓ Startups Support Programs — (Link)

✓ Investor Visa Program (Link)

✓ Investment or R&D Incentives — (Link)

✓ Tax Credits (Link)

The above are merely snippets from vast windows of opporunity in the global economy just waiting to be discovered by foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

Whereas heated discussion on Asia’s development used to mainly feature China, that is no longer the case. Impressive economic progress has already effectively stretched across the entire region. Both East and Southeast Asian countries are building or remodelling their basic infrastructure to craft more suitable environments for global investors.

These emerging markets provide keen founders and business owners the perfect opportunity to grow their company.

If you are an ambitious investor or entrepreneur looking to benefit from the developments in the world economy, connect with us to learn how Startups Greater Asia can assist your growth. If you have any additional resources you would like to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The next move is up to you!

Founded in 2016, SGA aims to better bridge the US-Asian tech community by providing strategic insights, advisory and running programs to help Asian corporations/organizations sharpen and implement their tech innovation framework. Connect with us to learn more.

You may also like these SGA resources:

SGA Job Board — Silicon Valley and Asia tech business positions.

Asiapedia — a quick way to browse Asia tech news.

SGA Facebook Group — connect to other our cross-border startup community.

Event Calendar — Asia tech events in Silicon Valley.

Panorama Growth

We embrace evolution and growth beyond boundaries. We enable companies to take charge of their evolution and accelerate their innovation and transformation journey.

Elise Jiang

Written by

Panorama Growth

We embrace evolution and growth beyond boundaries. We enable companies to take charge of their evolution and accelerate their innovation and transformation journey.

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