Beat the Berlin startup blues – New scheme launched to combat German business bureaucracy

Does the word “Ausländerbehörde” send a cold shiver down your spine? Does one glance at the manual-sized set of documents written in an incomprehensible language that they give you to form a GmbH make you want to cry? We hear you.


So, as it turns out, does Berlin-based Business Immigration Service (BIS), an offshoot from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.  It’s just launched a new visa service to help the (many) expats working in Germany tackle the complicated process of getting a visa – and cut down the time it takes to be accepted. It's offering the service to entrepreneurs wanting to found a company, for highly-qualified professionals, graduates, executives and investors who are receiving guidance from the Berlin Partner GmbH.

Founded in 2007, the BIS works together with the Berlin Foreigners Office, the Federal Agency for Work, the Berlin Partner GmbH and the Senate Administration for Economics. Together with these partners, BIS offers expats guidance to founding a company, working and living in Germany.

BIS blames the lengthy and complicated application process to get work visas for holding back foreigners from founding companies that could potentially strengthen the German economy.

Christoph Irrgang, the head of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, explained: “No employer likes to wait half a year or longer for their new employee, who they desperately searched for and desperately need.”

He thinks startups are missing out on potential success by not filling positions fast enough due to the time consuming visa process: “If a founder has a good idea and wants to fill a niche, he can’t wait six months or longer to get a residence permit for himself or a potential staff member. He has to start immediately, otherwise the competition could overtake him.”

BIS claims to offer support in a number of languages, along with personal advice for when you do have to go to one of the “amts” (government bureaus). However, from what we’ve seen of the site, it’s only available in German – not the most helpful feature for a service that’s specifically targeting non-Germans. This is far from unusual for German governmental sites; few provide anything more than a homepage in English, let alone multi-language versions.

It's a nice and badly-needed concept if it really does what it promises – though for that to be the case, the actual service has to be far more polished and practical than the site so far would suggest.

Image credit: Flickr user visualpanic

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Image gallery – Angela Merkel’s Berlin startup tour
Rösler’s new proposals to make startups the “economic wonder” of Germany

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