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Germany’s Investor Visa Program

Although Germany does not have a separate visa for the investors but when an investor is willing to invest at least €250,000 or in some cases a minimum of €500,000 and his/her proposed solid business plan promises to employ more than five local employees; it might be quite easier to get a Residence Permit for taking up gainful employment (a work authorisation to actively involve in a business).

An entrepreneur who wishes to start his/her new business or a branch of a foreign business in Germany may do so quite easily. Generally, there are no restrictions limiting the incorporation of new companies. Nevertheless, establishing a business (as a foreigner) in Germany requires a sequence of several specific steps.

In case you intend to settle in Germany in order to run your business on-site; once you have gone through the incorporation procedures, you need to apply for a specific residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (i.e. Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbstständige Tätigkeit). Besides the Embassy or Consulate General, the authorities involved in Germany are the Alien’s Authority (i.e. Ausländerbehörde) and the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry (i.e. Industrie- und Handelskammer in cooperation with the Federal Employment Agency) at your future residential town/city. You are advised to be in touch with these two German authorities well in advance, e.g. while you are in Germany on a business survey trip on a C type Schengen visa normally issued for a short-term.

According to § 21 AufenthG (German Residence Act), a “Residence Permit for the purpose of Self-Employment” can only be issued to a foreigner (non-EU national) if;

  • an economic interest of overriding importance at either national or regional level exists,
  • a positive impact on the economy is expected through the proposed business start-up and
  • the financing for the proposed project is secured either by own funds or by a loan commitment from an acceptable source.


The first two conditions mentioned above are normally fulfilled with an investment of at least €250,000 & creation of at least five jobs. Furthermore, the sustainability of the proposed business project, applicant’s entrepreneurial experience plus amount of invested capital, the positive impact of the proposed project on the local economy, employment & training situation as well as its contribution to innovation & research are also taken into consideration while making a decision on your application.

Applicants older than 45 years should only be granted a Residence Permit if they have an adequate pension provision.

The chances of being granted a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (i.e. Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbstständige Tätigkeit) are not the same in all German locations. Some regions may not be interested in the business idea floated by you considering their specific regional needs and will therefore be reluctant to issue you a residence permit. Other regions – e.g. like the Länder (located in former East Germany) – offers various incentives to attract the potential investors. The business can usually be set up with a C type Schengen visa. However, you have to return to your home country to apply for the residence and work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis) as you cannot convert your short-term C type Schengen visa into any long-term visa in any case.

Italy’s Self-Employment Visa for Foreigners

Any foreigner (non-EU national) can apply for the Italian self-employment visa if he or she intends to carry out any industrial/professional or commercial activity, or intends to set-up a commercial company and/or to hold a corporate office in any corporation incorporated in Italy.

The Italian self-employment visas are restricted by annual quotas that are established on a yearly basis by the Italian Government. This temporary residence visa has an initial duration of maximum two years which can later be renewed each time for a similar duration. once the applicant holds this temporary residence visa for a five years period (like any other long-term visa), the applicant can obtain a permanent Residence Permit which may be converted into the Italian nationality at a later stage.

In order to obtain this type of visa, the applicant must provide evidence of the following:

  • having the necessary authorisations, clearances, licenses, etc., if the activity to be performed requires a certain authorisation under the Italian law;
  • having financial means equal to at least €4752 per year;
  • having the availability of a suitable accommodation (evidence of which is to be provided by means of a contract of purchase or a rental or lease agreement of a real estate, or by means of a legal statement by an Italian legal resident who undertakes to provide the applicant with a suitable accommodation).

The above-mentioned documentation/applications for licenses, authorisation etc. must be filed in Italy (normally through a legal attorney) while to obtain an authorisation to work, which is released by the local Italian Police Office (subject to the availability of the yearly quotas).

The authorisation to work is then submitted to the Italian Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence: upon exhibition of the authorisation to work, the Italian Consulate issues a visa which allows the holder to legally enter into Italy.

Even in this case, the holder of this particular visa is not bound to make any particular kind of investment in Italy as is the case normally in other countries.

Italy’s Residence Permit Program for Foreigners

Italian Law does not set forth any scheme similar to an Investor Program except the self-employment Visa (explained separately elsewhere).

As a matter of fact, the capacity or the intention to make business investments alone does not qualify an individual applicant to apply for any specific visa; rather, a strong financial capacity is always a prerequisite to apply for almost any kind of Italian visa.

The type of Italian visa we wish to discuss here is a unique “Elective Residence Visa” which neither requires you to have any job offer from an Italian employer as is the case normally in a Work Permit or Work Visa; nor it needs you to make any investments or involve yourself in any business activities as is the case normally in an Entrepreneur Visa.

Any foreign individual (non-EU citizen) can apply for the Italian elective residence visa provided he has sufficient means to support his/her stay in Italy without the need to carry out any working activity at all.

Evidence of having sufficient means of support must be supplied by providing appropriate documentation concerning (jointly):

  • proof of the availability of a residential place in Italy;
  • proof of your sound financial means arising from:

annuities or pensions; and/or
ownership of real estates; and/or
ownership of any businesses; and/or
other means but not arising from subordinated work activities;

  • guarantees of the continuous availability of the above means in the future.


Generally, an elective residence visa is initially valid for a two years period which can later be renewed for a similar duration each time. once the applicant holds this temporary residence visa for a 5 years period (like any other long-term visa), the applicant can obtain a permanent Residence Permit which may be converted into the Italian nationality at a later stage.

Spouse and any dependant minor children under of age of 18 and parents of the applicant (provided they fall under applicant’s dependants) can also apply for the similar visa  in order to accompany or join the applicant, provided that the above listed financial means are more than enough to support all additional family members as well.

As it has already been mentioned above, the holder of this particular kind of visa is not bound to carry out any specific business activities or to make any investments during his/her stay in Italy.