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Dutch startup visa proposal needs your response

The Dutch government has created a draft law for startup visa and is collecting comments until July 24. The initiative is well intended and has a lot of merit, but the current draft has some serious issues that need to be clarified. We (Janneke and Sieuwert) are therefore calling all startup founders to respond.

kroes-neelie-2Like other European countries, The Netherlands desperately needs visa for startup founders. The Dutch government and accelerators try to promote The Netherlands as an attractive business location. At the same time, other parts of the government are harassing entrepreneurs by throwing them out of the country. Participants of Rockstart or Startupbootcamp for instance can get 3 month visa to participate in the program, but cannot meet with investors afterwards because they have to leave. Luckily politicians have discovered the importance of startups to revive the European economy (starting with leading lady Neelie Kroes but also in the Netherlands by Anne-Wil Lucas and the VVD startupNL action plan) and have taken action to change the laws so that entrepreneurs can stay in The Netherlands. Below we summarize the law proposal, the lawmaking process and our questions and concerns. We invite everyone to place their remarks in the comments and we will translate and submit these.

Summary of the law
Founders of a Startup currently cannot get a visum, since they do not meet the normal criteria. In the proposed startup visa law, an exception will be made specifically for startup entrepreneurs, so that they can get a resident permit for a year to start their company. They need to meet certain criteria, including:

The startup visum provides a one year opportunity for starting up. After one year the government can extend the visum if the normal requirements are met. The added value and innovativeness will be examined by a government agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland). The agency will advise the IND (Dutch Immigration Organization) whether the visa can be granted.

The lawmaking process
The current proposal is published for consultation at overheid.nl. Although the target audience is international startup entrepreneurs, as far as we know this article is the first and best English summary. The final deadline for comments is already on July 24 2014. More information about the intentions of the new proposal is here. The law is intended to become effective on January 1st 2015.

Our questions and concerns
We applaud the intentions of the proposal but believe that it can only have a positive impact if the precise criteria are clear. The current proposal raises more questions than it answers, including the following:

Call to action
We (Janneke and Sieuwert) would like to submit comments in order to clarify the current proposal. Specifically we would like to make suggestions on all the unclear points listed above. It would help us to hear experiences from our readers: what are relevant criteria, on what basis would you have qualified, what is in your view a reasonable time, the right support organization, etc. Leave the feedback in the comments or mail to sieuwert@startupjuncture.com.

142053bAbout the authors: This article was co-written by Janneke Boerman (co-founder of legal startup MijnEigenJurist, also active on twitter) and Sieuwert van Otterloo.

Photo by Pieter van Marion (creative commons via Flickr)

Sieuwert van Otterloo
Sieuwert van Otterloo is IT expert by day and startup enthusiast by night. IT expert via Softwarezaken | innovation expert via Node1 | editor and cofounder of StartupJuncture | member of StartupDelta | startup investor. Reach out to Sieuwert via otterloo @ gmail .com
  1. Valid points on the language, %’s and RVO. We’ve had experience with the current procedures recently and the only reason we succeeded is because we had the right contacts, our regular procedure was in the process of failing before that due to the RVO changing the rules of the game midgame.

    Another issue I’d like to add is the term of coming to a decision. In our case this took 8 months, which were taken from the visum. In case of a 12 month visum this would imply the founders are in limbo for 4 (officially) to 8 (current practise) months and only have 4 months remaining on their visum when/if it is received. My suggestion would be that the turnaround needs to be 2 weeks maximum, which is also plenty of time.

    On the RVO -> maybe it would help if there’s an “advisory board” containing some people that actually know something about startups… Examples could be 1 rep for both the two big accelerators, 1 or 2 from startup media (Boris etc.), 1 or 2 VC’s and maybe 1 or 2 startup founders. This board would do better than the RVO in any case.

  2. […] and Italy, that are moving forward with the design of startup visas. In recent news, the Dutch government has started an initiative for a startup visa. Italy has also launched a startup visa allowing […]

  3. Sieuwert van Otterloo says:

    We have received several responses from startup founders with visum experience (often negative), including from startups linked to Rockstart, Startupbootcamp, and Yes!Delft. Thanks to all startup founders that responded! We are now writing our official response, to be submitted tomorrow directly to the Dutch government .

  4. […] regulations allow you to develop your business growth. In the Netherlands for example, there is a startup visa proposal to be passed on […]

  5. Is there a list of facilitators who can support my startup?

    • Sieuwert van Otterloo says:

      Hi Rajeev, There is no final list yet, but our guess is the start with the most established: startupbootcamp, rockstart, utrecht inc, ace venture lab, yesdelft.

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