Category Archives: Entrepreneur & Start-up Visas

Information and news on visas available for solo entrepreneurs, startup founders and employees of start-ups

French Tech Ticket: A Financial incentive to foreign Entrepreneurs

France wants to attract foreign entrepreneurs and startups.

Foreign entrepreneurs granted the new French Entrepreneur visa (also called French Tech Ticket) will be provided with a grant of12,500Euros which will be exempted of income tax and social taxation (CSG-CRDS) – as agreed by the French Parliament in the amendment of a law on international investment.

The French Gov and the city of Paris launched the French Tech Ticket visa this year to promote its startup eco-system worldwide. This financial incentive aims to attract and support foreign entrepreneurs starting innovative companies in France.

The French Tech Ticket acts as a comprehensive  “Welcome Pack” for foreign entrepreneurs. Successful applicants will benefit from a fast track visa process to obtain a work visa and receive  – on top of a grant of 12,500Euros per founder (maximum 3 people) –  an office space in a partner startup incubator, support on settling down and discounts on Air France flights.

The grant of 12.500Euros is renewable after 6 months if the project shows traction. Next year, the French Tech Ticket should be extended to the whole country incubators. For now, the French Tech Ticket works only with foreign entrepreneurs wanting to relocate in Paris.

Making Economic Sense

This measure to exempt the grant of taxes comes as natural as the 12,500Euros are granted by the French Government through the BPI. Indeed, a taxation on a government subsidy would not make much sense.

The successful applicants to the French Tech Ticket will be announced next January. In total, 722 startup business proposals were submitted last September by 1,372 entrepreneurial candidats. Only 50 of them will be granted the visa.

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Interested in Startup Visa Schemes? Download Migreat Report on Startup Visas programmes or read our latest blog post on the countries accepting entrepreneurs in 2015.

The Blue Card: an EU Visa for Software Developers?

The Blue Card is a European visa for highly-skilled people from non-EU countries.

On paper, the Blue Card has been adopted by all EU-member states (excluding the UK, Ireland and Denmark).

In reality, Germany has been its most active supporter, awarding over 85% of the total number of Blue Cards in Europe between 2012 and 2014.

Given the short supply of software developers in Europe, the Blue Card can sometimes be the only option for non-EU devs. Here an infographic by Emma Tracey from Honeypot.io, the Developer-Focused Job Platform

Blue-card-infographic

If you still need help on visa for Europe, ask www.migreat.com online visa assistant for guidance.

Israel Startup Visa: a scheme for tech entrepreneurs and investors

Israel launches a startup visa programme to simplify immigration for foreign tech entrepreneurs and investors.

Visas to bring more innovators to Israel
Called ‘Innovation Visas for Foreign Entrepreneurs’, the visa scheme will grant 2 year visas to foreign entrepreneurs, investors and foreign professional who can show that their tech business, startup or company will economically contribute to the prosperity of Israel.

A first batch of close to 50 so-called “innovation visas” will be granted soon. Twelve established companies will be the first beneficiaries of the visas for foreign professionals. Meanwhile, the program expands to allow visa holders the ability to set up new firms later.

Cumbersome process?
However, reading through the details, the manner in which the Israeli government is awarding the visa sounds a little obscure and cumbersome:

“An open call will be put out to Israeli companies to apply to use the visas for its future workers. Then, only 12 companies will be selected both by the Immigration Authority and the Office of the Chief Scientist. At that point, there will then be an open call to American companies who wish to set up shop in Israel to apply for the visas. There is no indication how many visas will be allocated per company.”

After the two years, visa holders will be eligible to apply for an ‘Expert Visa’ in the hope of staying indefinitely. The expert visa will make them eligible for some support grants and programs.

Israel is the 15th country in the world to develop an official startup visa route after Taiwan and France (the French Tech Ticket) announced the launch of their own scheme this summer 2015.

Find here Migreat list of countries with an official startup visa scheme and see how they compare to each other.

5 reasons why we need a European Startup Visa now

Despite recent strides, it’s generally accepted that Europe’s entrepreneurs have a long way to go before they can compete on equal footing with Silicon Valley’s founders. However, the US has been gradually losing foreign entrepreneurs to other countries.

In this regard, I argue in an article for Tech.eu today that Europe would set itself apart by implementing a Europe-wide Startup Visa scheme for founders.

An overarching European Startup Visa scheme would create the necessary synergies to make up for the fragmentation found between competing national schemes and could propel Europe forward as the new Mecca for global entrepreneurs.

Now is the time and here are the five reasons why we believe there is much more to be gained than to lose. Learn and read more on Tech.eu.

 

French Startup Visa: 1,400 Foreign Entrepreneurs knocking on the doors of Paris

1,372 people from across the globe have expressed a wish to start an innovative company in Paris, France this year through the French Government new Startup Visa Programme, the French Tech Ticket.

Launched this May, the French Startup Visa is for non-French entrepreneurs who have an idea for creating or expanding a startup. During the call for proposals, which ended on 15 September, 722 startup projects were submitted, for a total of 1,372 applicants and 5,677 expressions of interest from over 90 countries.

A Frank Success
The numbers outspace by far the number of applicants to most European equivalent of Startup Visa programmes. Migreat Startup Visa report counted that on average, similar programs have received 20 to 100 of applications through their first years.

It is a definite confirmation for Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for Digital Affairs, that France has grown a strong “international appeal” she says and “for this fantastic startup momentum to continue” she adds “we now need to work with entrepreneurs from around the world and (…) later [expand the French Startup Visa programme] to other French Tech Metropoles throughout France.”

Paris, growing hub for international startups
Buoyed by the success of forerunners such as Criteo, Withings, and Sigfox, the recent news of $200 raised by Blablacar, the acquisition of Leetchi, the plans for Deezer to go public, and with the support of the French government, which launched the French Tech initiative, French startup have reached cruising speed in recent years!

Paris is a world leader in the innovation economy: “Number one city in the world for innovation and intellectual capital” and “third most appealing city for foreign investment”.

Next
The fifty winners of the first edition of Paris French Tech Ticket will be announced in December. Starting in January 2016, they will be welcomed into a dozen support structures and partner incubators.

Upcoming stages in the selection process:
1- By the end of September: a pre-selection process will choose 500 eligible projects, in order of submission
2- October: the 500 projects will be reviewed by a panel of experts. Seventy of them will be selected, and Skype interviews with the applicants will take place between 2 and 6 November
3- End of November: following the interview phase, the list of finalists and runners-up will be
4- January 2016: the 50 winning French Tech Ticket entrepreneurs will arrive in Paris

A new call for proposals will be launched early in 2016.

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Interested in Startup Visa Schemes? Download Migreat Report on Startup Visas programmes or read our latest blog post on the countries accepting entrepreneurs in 2015.

What Entrepreneur Visa Options are Available to Set Up a Business In the UK

Have you been looking into what the visa options are to start a business in the UK?
Migreat spoke to Seedcamp, a London based pan-European accelerator funded by a group of 30 investors, about visa options and what is important to know about immigration before moving to London to start a company. Here’s a recap of the podcast.

 
What are the main things a foreign entrepreneur needs to know about UK visas & immigration? [Minute 4.09]
  • You have more options than just the Entrepreneur visa: Investor, Graduate Entrepreneur, Prospective Entrepreneur, Exceptional Talent visas are options for you to consider.
  • People should think about their visa choices strategically and about the long term. Migreat recommends that you always ask for expert advice from regulated experts – it will save you time and money.

How to make your choice between all visa options? [Min 5.45-6.30 & Min 8.50-11]
To make a solid and informed choice, Migreat recommends you consider:

  • your current visa situation
  • the capital you have access too
  • your plans and the time you want to spend in the UK

A better deal for the Entrepreneur visa? [Min 7.25]
If you are accepted into Seedcamp or another endorsed incubator in the UK – you have to show £50K in capital to apply to the Entrepreneur Visa.


Make sure you get the paperwork right. 
[Min 13.30]
Most applications are refused because of paperwork mistakes. Understand that the UKVI judges your application by the paperwork you provide. They will not typically meet you or make a google search around how well you are doing with your business.

Immigration experts are big time (and life )savers in this regard:
Consider hiring a solicitor if you want to save time, money and minimise risks to get refused with your application.


The service of an immigration solicitor fluctuates in prices[Min 17.21]
Check what is included in the price and if it is a hourly rate or a package.
Always make sure that your immigration solicitor has the credentials and experience with the visa you are applying for. [Min 22.25]
It is an investment that is worth it. At Migreat, we strive to match foreigners with a solicitor that speaks the language, understands where you are coming from and has done similar work in the past successfully.

Resources: Migreat immigration wizard to check your visa options; and Migreat guideline of the different entrepreneur visa around the world.

Entrepreneur Visas in Spain: How to Successfully Apply

Spain offers a specific immigration route for entrepreneurs called “Ley de Emprendedores” or Entrepreneurs’ Law. It makes it straightforward for migrant entrepreneurs to get the permission to live and work in Spain. Here is Migreat’s practical guide to the visa. If you need assistance or have questions – ask @Migreat on twitter or see below for more resources.

Who can apply under the “Ley de Emprendedores” ?
Any non-EU national that wants to start an innovative business or company that will create innovation and local jobs in Spain. Applicants do not have to meet a minimum investment capital threshold (unlike entrepreneur visas in most other countries). However, applicants are required to show a valid business plan that demonstrates the economic benefits for Spain and sufficient funds to be financially independent.

“It is all about the idea and the project” says Ana Garicano Solé, Spanish Immigration lawyer at Sagardoy. “If you are not confident your idea can prove to be innovative and creating jobs – you might want to apply to another visa: investor visa or highly skilled visa.”

How to apply?
The process is slightly different if you apply from within Spain or before arriving.

1. Applying from outside the country:
If you currently reside outside of Spain, you must apply for a Spanish Entrepreneur visa. The visa will give you a year to establish the business in Spain. To do this:

  • Get in touch with your local Spanish consulate
  • Submit your business plan to the Spanish Economic and Commercial Office (Secretaría de Estado de Comercio)
  • Wait 10 days (maximum) for the decision on your business plan. If approved, you will obtain a report on Entrepreneurial Activity of Interest – an essential document for you to apply for the visa.
  • Go to the consulate with the documents listed below as well as a visa form dully completed and pay the fee (make sure to double check with the consulate on the documents required – it can vary from a consulate to another):
    • Copy of all your passport pages or ID
    • Documents demonstrating a clean criminal record in your home country
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Proof that you have sufficient funds to sustain yourself in Spain
    • Your report on Entrepreneurial Activity of Interest

When in Spain, you can apply right away to an Entrepreneur Residence permit as specified below.

2. Applying from within Spain:
If you already reside in Spain with a valid visa (it can be just a tourist visa), you must apply for a residence permit authorisation (valid for two years and renewable).

To do this you will need to:

  • Get in touch with the Directorate-General for Trade and Investment – (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos (UGE-CE)) via this email unidadgrandesempresas@meyss.es to obtain the right contact to submit your business plan and ask for any other form you may need to supply with it
  • Submit your business plan with the correct application form if needed to the Spanish Economic and Commercial Office (Secretaría de Estado de Comercio)
  • Wait 20 days (maximum) for a decision on your business plan. If approved, you will obtain a report on Entrepreneurial Activity of Interest – an essential document, like a certificate that guarantees your business idea is entrepreneurial, for you to apply for the residence permit
  • Gather the following documents and apply for a residence permit from your local police station (make sure to double check with the police station on the documents they require – it can vary from station to station):
    • Copy of all your passport pages or ID
    • 2 photographs
    • Documents demonstrating a clean criminal criminal record in your home country and in Spain
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Proof that you have sufficient funds to sustain yourself in Spain
    • Your report on Entrepreneurial Activity of Interest

Timings & Extra Information

Processing times varies but the Spanish government has been pretty good at sticking to its promise of 10 days for visa applications, 20 days for residence permits.

All documents need to be translated in Spanish by a licensed translator.

You can come with your children, spouse or civil partner on this visa or residence permit. You can file applications for each dependent at the same time you are applying for the entrepreneur visa or residence permit. Dependents are allowed to work.

If you have any questions about the process or if you need the help of an immigration expert to proceed, please contact Migreat at solicitorconnect (at) migreat (dot) com – we will connect you with the right expert who will call you and answer your general questions.

External Resources:

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa refused: 4 common mistakes to avoid

Applying to the UK Entrepreneur Visa? Migreat partner Josh Henderson from Enterprise Brokers tells us more about the four common errors foreign entrepreneurs to the UK have made in the past that you want to avoid.

Since the beginning of its launch in 2008, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa has been the main door for entrepreneurs from around the world to the UK.

The aim of this visa route has been to bolster the UK economy by encouraging the very best from across globe to join in the UK’s rich and diverse markets.

In my view the scheme has been very successful both economically and culturally; however, in recent years the UK Home Office (HO) has witnessed abuse of the program. The previous Minster of immigration stated, “the entrepreneur route is now being targeted by applicants seeking to abuse the immigration rules” (Mark Harper, 2013)

This saw in an increase in applicant scrutiny and refusal as high as 50%  (Home Office, Immigration statistics quarterly release 2013).

Rejection of Entrepreneur Visas

With the Entrepreneur Visa refusal rate so high and scrutiny over abuse of the route, it is important for you to prepare the process in a well informed fashion. Here four tips to avoid a refusal for genuine entrepreneurs.

A solid business plan

As of 6th of April 2015 the initial visa application must be submitted with a business plan. This requirement is now mandatory and the secretary of state may take into account certain factors in assessing whether the applicant is a genuine entrepreneur. This includes checking the viability and credibility of an applicants business plan and market research in their chosen business sector (Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) of the Points Based System Policy Guidance 06 April 2015).

Due to past abuse the HO is taking a deeper look into business plan to assess if the applicant is genuine or not. If the plan was copied from other sources such as the Internet, it can be detected by a software used by the HO.

A consistent immigration history 

The UK Border Agency may call the applicant and question them on their immigration history. I myself experienced the HO investigating the intent of applicants when we had a father & son applying for an Entrepreneur Visa to open up a fast food restaurant in Leicester. After speaking with the immigration consultants in the country of origin, we found out the team had been refused an entry late 2014 due to the failure of the genuine entrepreneur test. The primary reason they were refused was that their stories did not match up whilst being interviewed.  There are future implications for applicants who provide wrong information to the HO as the assessment of any new application will take into consideration their immigration history.

Don’t mistake Investment and Maintenance funds

The Home office needs to see evidence that applicants can support themselves (and dependants) in the UK whilst starting/investing in a business. Its important to point out that the investment funds are solely for the business i.e. the £200,000 required is not to be used as maintenance. This is a common mistake for many applicants who have not consulted an immigration expert. Applicant s must have access to maintenance funds of £3,310 (applications made outside the UK) and £945 (made in the UK) for the past 90 days prior to applying.

Credible Source of Funds

If the applicantsinvestment capital has been in their bank account for less then 90 days when applying, the HO may ask for source of funds. Applicants must be able to show evidence of how and where they attained the capital. If the applicants cannot show sufficient evidence, they may be refused as the funds may have come from illegitimate sources.

What these points have shown is that preparation is key. Please be aware there are stringent rules with entering UK and you must know your business inside and out.

Want to know more?

Join Migreat Immigration Webinar on how to successfully apply to the UK Entrepreneur visa – Wednesday 25th November 2015 – 3pm London Time. Register now.

If you’re a global entrepreneur looking to start or join an existing company in the UK, get in touch with migreat.com to be assisted in the process by the best expert and get automatic assessment if you may be eligible to the Entrepreneur visa online via Migreat visa finder tool

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This guest blog post is provided to you by Josh Henderson, CEO of Enterprise Brokers, a business matchmaking company for international entrepreneurs in the UK and partner of migreat.com

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.

Navigating Start-Up Visas Worldwide

Most Start-up visas schemes are quite new. Read below for a quick outline of each country’s offerings and their differences or download Migreat’s #StartupVisa report to get the all of the details.

Map Startup VIsa May 2015 (1)

Which is cheapest?
Most entrepreneur visa schemes require entrepreneurs to show investments in the range of $40,000 to $100,000. However, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain (for some special cases) have not set up a minimum capital requirement.

Successful applicants to the Chilean Entrepreneur Visa program receive 20 million pesos (approx $35K) and to the French program EUR 12,5K (approx $14K).

Which countries have the easiest visa process?
It is difficult to say, as the rules do not always match what happens in real life. On paper, the Dutch, Italian and Spanish visas promise a simple and easy process with a quick turnaround on the decision (from 10 to 30 days maximum).

In Italy, the entrepreneur application is reduced to the bare minimum: electronically submitting a CV (resume) and filling out an online application – which does not need to be filled out in Italian and can be completed in English.

What are the main competitive advantages to know about?
Canada’s Start-up visa provides permanent residency. It is the only visa among all of the programs to do so. Ireland’s Innovative Start-up visa is the only one that is flexible in the amount of time allowed to the entrepreneur to fulfill the renewal requirements in terms of jobs created and revenue generated. It also offers a flexible immigration system that makes it more straightforward for start-ups to hire foreigners.

New Zealand’s Entrepreneur Work visa offers a two-steps visa: with more time for entrepreneurs to get settled and start their business in the country, with support from the Government. It also offers to remove the capital requirements if the business is highly-innovative and scalable. The FrenchTech Ticket offers lower pricing on Air France flights. Interesting… !

What else should I know in general about these visas?
Most visas are easier to get if you have been accepted into an accelerator/incubator or have been endorsed by a local or institutional expert. This is especially true for Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

In some countries, like Ireland and Italy, the start-up visa route is not only vastly simplified over other routes, but it opens up access to a range of tax and labour regulation benefits.

entrepreneurs-welcome-english. May 2015 copy
See and download the full size infographic on http://visual.ly/foreign-entrepreneurs-visa-worldwide-compared

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Download Migreat’s Start-up Visa report to learn more about the 13 different countries offering specific visa programs for foreigners.

Ask @migreat for help navigating start-up visa schemes.