64: Why Norway Needs a Startup Visa

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Life in Norway Show Episode #64: Today we’re talking about a gap in Norway’s immigration rules which entrepreneurs can easily fall into and find themselves forced to leave Norway despite having built a life here.

Starting a business in Norway is challenging enough at the best of times. But doing so as an immigrant is a path that's full of uncertainties.

Norway flag on a map of Scandinavia.

While work permits are available for starting a sole proprietorship, starting a limited company is a much more difficult process for a foreigner. One person who found that out the hard way is today's guest Kyle Havlicek-McClenahan, co-founder and CEO of Scales.

He was forced to leave Norway after falling foul of a protracted immigration process that didn't take into account several important factors. The case drew the attention of Norwegian business media and politicians.

Kyle joins the show to talk about his situation and why Norway should look at the idea of a work permit for founders and entrepreneurs.

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The immigration gap for entrepreneurs in Norway

Kyle explains there is a 12-18 month period where you are proving the viability of a product or service.

“That is the middle ground where you need that additional stability that currently doesn't exist in the legal framework. That is where the greatest impact could be made for founders.”

Norway from space.

He has already worked with leading politicians on a potential solution, but it was voted down. However, he believes putting something in place is an essential step towards future competitiveness for Norway in an ever-more global marketplace.

“There is a shortage of talent, there is draconian immigration laws compared to other parts of Europe and other Nordic countries. This is going to be one of those projects that follows me for the next few years, how do we improve immigration so that people with ambition and dreams want to come here to build something.”

Links from the show

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “64: Why Norway Needs a Startup Visa”

  1. Norway does not want to change. They have their heads Up their arses because to Them immigrants are only good for low level jobs.

  2. Kyle’s experience in this podcast rings true. I’m a British entrepreneur and did obtain a residency permit to move my technology company to Trondheim to escape the clutches of the UK’s nutty Brexit government. However UDI insisted on my company being a sole proprietorship instead of a limited company which made no sense as my business was already established in the latter form and I was going to contribute taxes to Norway from day one. Their inflexibility and the lack of a startup entrepreneur visa scheme in Norway pushed me towards Finland instead and their fast track startup program. I’m happy to have now relocated to Norway’s nordic neighbour which appears to have a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs and start-ups.


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