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CAREERS Global mobility of talent: Finland, Estonia introducing new startup, digital nomad visas
BydispatcheseuroPosted on July 30, 2018
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The War for Talent is heating up, with an ever-increasing number of countries in Europe creating new visas to tap into the Global Mobility of Talent. Estonian officials announced a new visa for “digital nomads,” available in 2019, and Finland has introduced a startup visa.
These are just two of many new visas available to highly skilled internationals.
Even as it departs the European Union, implements increasingly restrictive visa requirements and becomes more hostile to migrants in general, the United Kindom is unveiling its new startup visa, a visa we’re assuming will become irrelevant on 23 March 2019.
Of course, the UK is not the only country increasingly hostile to expats … the United States under President Donald Trump is doing away with its two-year-old startup visa program.
The good news is, far more countries including Finland and Estonia want to make it easier for entrepreneurs and experts to move there, then start up and scale up, in order to both boost their pools of talent and to attract new and promising businesses.
This blurb from Finland’s startup visa website speaks volumes (emphasis ours):
The competition for international experts is so intense that the residence permit system, along with other factors affecting moving to Finland, needs to be smooth. The new amendments are part of a wider package that the Government has introduced to facilitate the immigration and entrepreneurship of experts.
While that’s a given across Europe, our personal experience is, these startup visas are very tough to get and you’d better have a great idea, a great team and money in the bank if you really want to cross borders to start your company.
The main complication is, there’s often an internal tug-of-war between different government agencies. Often, officials working in economic development come up with the startup visa plans, only to find themselves in conflict with immigration officials who have to figure out how to implement the new policies. (In 2016, we spent an afternoon brainstorming with Dutch officials working hard to craft policy that’s both responsive to entrepreneurs AND acceptable to immigration officials.)
A note: When we pursued the Dutch startup visa, we quickly found it was meant for entrepreneurs from developing countries or coming from countries outside the EU. It was much easier for us to just put up the money (9,000 euros) and start the business as a partnership under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty.
In 2018, many of the countries offering startup visas have tiny populations, so immigration concerns might take a backseat to ambitions to super-charge economies.
Earlier this year, Finland – which has a total population equal to about half the population of New York City – created a new startup visa, a residence permit to attract more skilled foreign entrepreneurs; a visa that’s valid for two years. The visa went into effect in April, with the first companies from Lebanon and Russia the first to get preliminary approval.
The process for applying for this new visa has been simplified compared to previous processes for highly skilled internationals to get a long-term residency card.
Here are the salient details about Finland’s new talent-attraction program from the Ministry of Interior website:
• You have to prove your startup has the potential for “rapid international success.” Sort of like Finland’s strongest digital sector, games created by Supercell and other companies.
• “At present, the permit can only be issued to self-employed people who have full personal liability for their business activities, for example, entrepreneurs operating under a trade name,” according to the Ministry of Interior website. In the future, Finland intends to extend this to issue residence permits for entrepreneurs operating on a limited liability basis; ie, as corporations. That is, there will be two kinds of entrepreneur residence permits – a residence permit for a growth entrepreneur and a residence permit for all the other entrepreneurs.
• Finland, compared to emerging economies such as Bulgaria, is expensive, so you have to have some cash. Applicants must be able to prove that they have a monthly income of about 1,000 euros or net assets in the bank adequate to fund a two-year stay – the maximum duration of an initial permit.
Applications for an extended permit can be submitted online without visiting the Finnish Immigration Service.
We couldn’t find the online application, but we did find the person you can contact:
Jarmo Tiukkanen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 606, [email protected]
You can see more on the Business Finland website about what it’s like to live and work there.
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