Visa Options For Entrepreneurs In Europe

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Are you a foreign entrepreneur and want to start your business in Europe? These useful tips will guide you through the jungle of visa regulations every country has. Check it out!

Immigration and visa procedures to Europe can be difficult to navigate but it should not stop you from starting your company. Here is how to make immigration work smoothly for you to start or co-found an exciting new business in Europe!

The UK

The UK has created many specific visas in the last years to support the immigration of talents and entrepreneurs. The immigration border agency is not the easiest to deal with, and the visa application will be by far the most expensive compared to other European countries. This said this is by far the hottest and most vibrant spot for entrepreneurs and startup. One more reason to battle a little more to obtain the visa.

In the UK, entrepreneurs and startups founders can come on one of the three following visa options:

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 have to prove a business model that works and to be genuinely motivated to build a company in the UK, and evidence that you are not the only one to buy into your ideas: either a letter from your university or an FSA investor.

A new route has recently opened to founders and star employee of startups – The Exceptional Talent. It requires proving an exceptional experience and professional track record in the digital sector. Tech City UK will judge of your talent.


Ireland is attractive to many for their favorable tax environment and the big giants that have established their European Headquarters there, like Google.

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.


Italy offers two visas options for founders of startups: a groundbreaking startup visa, which is reserved for innovative business ideas; and a ‘standard’ self-employed visa (residence permit).

The Italian startup visa is a simplified visa procedure for entrepreneurs that can prove the innovative character of the business idea and all can be done in English and electronically; you will have to show access to €50,000 in investment capital for the business. The visa is granted for a year and has to be renewed annually.

The ‘standard’ self-employed visa requires the applicant to apply for a work permit (nulla osta) from within Italy. It can be given for economic activities in any sector and allows you to stay for two years. The minimum funding investment to show is a mere €4,962.36.


France does offer a resident permit called Compétences et talents (Competencies and Talents). It grants a 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”.

What is a most often used solution for entrepreneurs in France who want to start a company is to come under the EU Blue Card rather than apply for a Competencies and Talents resident permit.


To start a company in Germany, you will have to apply to a work permit and 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 of a German university, you are exempt from this minimum financial requirement and minimum job creation.

This will allow you to stay in Germany legally for three years at the end of which, you can apply for permanent residency if the business is viable and successful.


Spain offers a specific fast-tracked visa route for entrepreneurs. Visa decisions are promised within 10 working days and residence permit decisions in 20 days.

Applicants for the visa need to get their business plan vetted by the government, health insurance, and enough money to support themselves while living in Spain. This visa gives you two years legally in the country and is renewable.

For more info on all European member states, including different visa types, visit Schengen Visa Info – they have put together a comprehensive overview of all questions that might pop up.


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