[This blog post was last edited December 2014 – you can read it here in Russian Language.
Last month we wrote about the different work visa options to work at a startup in the UK, and extensively about how to get the UK Entrepreneur visa successful.
This time we want to list visas available for Entrepreneurs and startup founders that want to start a company in Europe; and share some insights about the current trends of European Immigration policies for entrepreneurial migrants as of December 2014.
This list is timely because the UK has just launched an exceptional talent visa last April for entrepreneurs and startup employees in the Digital Industry and there is a growing trend across European countries to try to attract foreign investment and entrepreneurial migrants to start businesses in Europe and create jobs.
Lastly, our company has been much involved in speaking at conferences and in the media about the opportunities for highly skilled migrants in the UK and have launched a report on applicants to the UK Entrepreneur visa.
Countries with specific visas for Entrepreneurs & Startup Founders
In the UK, entrepreneurs and start-ups founders can come on one of the three following visa options:
– The Entrepreneur Visa
The choice between them depends on your personal situation and visa history as well as the length of their stay and the stage at which they are with their business. The most difficult to get is the Entrepreneur visa because you will have to prove either access to 50K or 200K investment. For others, you will just have to prove a business model that works and to be genuinely motivated to build a company in the UK.
There has been a growing demand for those visas for the last five years; and stricter rules are being implemented throughout time to check the genuineness of applications. The latest changes in July 2014 are pushing entrepreneurial students to apply for the graduate entrepreneur visa instead of the main Entrepreneur Visa. In Ireland, entrepreneurs and startups founders can apply to the startup visa targeted at innovative companies. You will have to show €75,000 in funding investments. No job creation targets have been set as it is recognized that such businesses can take some time to get off the ground.
The intention of the programme is to support high potential start-ups. The scheme is not intended for retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of this nature. More information can be found on the following link: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Guidelines%20for%20Start-up%20Entrepreneur%20Programme.pdf/Files/Guidelines%20for%20Start-up%20Entrepreneur%20Programme.pdf
On paper, Italy is the easiest country for an Entrepreneur to obtain a visa to start a business: it has two visas options available for them; a groundbreaking startup visa, which is reserved for innovative business ideas; and a ‘standard’ self-employed visa (residence permit).
The Italian startup visa is aimed at attracting and promoting innovative global entrepreneurs and was launched in June 2014. It offers a simplified visa procedure for entrepreneurs by cutting red-tape and providing a range of tax and labour regulation benefits. To qualify for it, the entrepreneur applicant must prove the innovative character of the business idea ; and show access to €50,000 in investment capital for the business. The visa is granted for a year and renewed each year.
Migrant Entrepreneurs to Italy can also choose to enter the country via the ‘standard’ self-employed visa. The process requires the applicant to apply for a work permit (nulla osta) from within Italy. Italian entrepreneur visas can be given for economic activities in any sector. The minimum funding investment to show is a mere €4,962.36 which contrasts to the €50,000 investment required for the Italian Startup Visa.
Nevertheless, you must pay careful attention to demonstrate you are contributing to the Italy’s economic growth by the amount of investment you are bringing in, the amount of revenue you are planning to generate and how many jobs you plan to create. As such, working closely with the Italian Chamber of Commerce can greatly help you make your application successful.
The Italian Entrepreneur work permit allows you to stay for two years. You can renew your permit by submitting an application at least 60 days before the permit expires.
Countries without a specific visa for Entrepreneurs
Currently France does offer two visas for entrepreneurs:
- a resident permit called Compétences et talents (Competencies and Talents).
- a FrenchTech Ticket or Entrepreneur visa
It grants visa for entrepreneurs that “are likely to make a significant or lasting contribution, to France’s economic development or to its prestige, and directly or indirectly, to that of their country of origin”.
In other words, your business must have show a clear contribution to France’s economic prosperity and to your country of origin back. Very very few of these visas have been issued.
What is a most often used solution for entrepreneurs in France that want to start a company is to come under the EU Blue Card rather than apply for a Competencies and Talents resident permit.
The only advantage of the Competencies and Talents resident permit is that it will grant you a stay as long as 6 years, one year more than the EU Blue card.
The French Ticket or entrepreneur visa, is granted to entrepreneurs selected by specific Paris based incubators and starting a business related to technology and the digital industry. Learn more about the FrenchTech Ticket application process.
To start a company in Germany, you will have to apply to a work permit. Unless you are a recent graduate, you’ll have to prove that you have access to €500,000 in investment funds and that your business will create at least 5 job opportunities in Germany. If you are a graduate from a German university, you are exempt form this minimum financial requirement and minimum job creation.
This will allow you to start a business in Germany legally for three years at the end of which, you can apply for permanent residency if the business is viable and successful.
Recently, Spain created a specific fast-tracked visa route for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are offered the normal resident permit, requiring them to have a government-vetted business plan, health insurance and enough money to support themselves while living in Spain. Visa decisions are promised within 10 working days, and residence permit decisions in 20 days.
This visa gives you two years legally in the country and is renewable.
This list is an overview of major European countries’ immigration policy towards entrepreneurs.]
You will eventually have to renew it and most renewal can lead to residency. You will just have to prove that you have been successful at the business.
For more information about those schemes, you can always ask Migreat online or below in the comments.