Norwegian authorities will spend up to ten months processing the transfer request of 32-year-old entrepreneur Kyle Havlichk-McLennahan, who was expelled from the country before Christmas. Now he will share his story in Parliament.
San Francisco (E24): “I can’t take any more personal risks now,” says Kyle Havlichk-McLennahan.
In early January, E24 wrote about the American businessman, who was expelled from Norway before Christmas last year because he was earning too little during the pandemic.
The 32-year-old has lived in Norway for eight years, as an NTNU student and advisor. In January 2020, he and two other software companies started Scales.
They were included in the program of the start-up fund Antler, which invested one million kroner in the company. Libra has also acquired several beta clients, including NetNordic.
However, due to unpredictability in the early stages, Havlicek-McClenahan withdrew his income as Director General as a consultant, and in December last year, his application for a new residence permit in Norway was finally denied.
Nine months of treatment
The reason for the refusal was that the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) had not found a “financial basis to operate” his business as a self-employed person. They focused specifically on revenue between August 2020 and August 2021.
However, operating accounts from the same period show that he had an income of over NOK 307,000 during these 12 months – well above the required minimum of NOK 254,036 per year.
Operating profit appears lower, but this is due to a claim on lost income from the previous accounting period, according to the entrepreneur.
In fact, it has won more than the claim.
So Havlicek-McClenahan filed a transfer request with UNE in early January, requesting that his attorney be allowed to remain in Norway during the time the case is being processed.
Shortly thereafter, he received an answer that US citizens could stay visa-free in the country for 90 days over a period of 180 days. And that the processing time for the transfer request may be up to nine months.
“We do not prioritize these issues as much as we do ordinary complaints,” reads the letter from UNE.
“It means I’ve been given a choice, which is really not a choice,” says Havlichk-McLennahan.
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If it is refused, it will take another five months to apply for a normal work permit. This means that it may take up to 14 months before he can live in Norway again.
Since the company is in the early start-up phase, it is also demanding to apply for a new residence permit with a permanent job as a general manager, according to the entrepreneur. He’s also considered getting a temporary general manager, but he’s demanding due to shareholder agreements.
Since his life is in Norway, he sees no other solution than to get a permanent job to obtain a new residence permit.
In practice, there’s no way to move forward as a general manager, he says.
Last week, they announced that they would be closing their doors to Google and other companies that want to buy their products.
“Ultimately, this means that the authorities killed our company, because I and our co-founders were forced to shut it down,” Havlichk-McLennahan says.
– But of course we are trying to find alternatives.
UNE has not previously responded directly to questions from E24 about the claim in Havlicek-McClenahan’s accounts.
– After going through all the information provided about his company, we came to the conclusion that his profit was less than 254,036 kroner, said division head Terje Østraat in January.
It is reported that prioritizing appeals before cancellation requests comes from the letter of assignment from the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness.
The reason for this is that issues that were not previously addressed in the appeal must be addressed before the issues that were initially addressed.
At the same time, UNE reported that the treatment time is now ten months.
Want a new visa plan
Parliamentary politician Alfred Biorlo (V) describes the authorities’ treatment of Kyle Havlichk-McLennahan as “embarrassing”.
Norway is gaining a reputation as a country that shuts down good people instead of welcoming people, Björlo writes in an email to E24.
– The Liberal Party will urgently ask the government and other parties in the Norwegian parliament to take Kyle’s story seriously, the massive support he is now receiving from consolidated “Startup Norway” and recent surveys showing that foreigners who come to Norway to work or start businesses look like « Second-class citizens.
Read on E24 +
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Bjørlo has submitted a representative proposal to the Norwegian Parliament to facilitate the establishment of himself in Norway for entrepreneurs, investors and workers from countries outside the European Economic Area.
Next Tuesday, the Liberal Party, in cooperation with ICT Norway, has arranged an open hearing on the matter in Parliament. Here, among other things, Microsoft will share its experiences with current regulations, and Kyle Havlichk-McLennan will tell his story.
I also want to show how a modern and future-oriented immigration system for tech talent would have served me, says the entrepreneur.
Prior to the hearing, more than 150 signatures were collected in a petition calling for Norway to obtain its own entrepreneurial visa, on a par with many other European countries.
The list includes the names of almost leaders. 100 organizations in the Norwegian startup environment.
This should be easy, says managing partner Magne Uppman at Norway’s Snö Ventures, which sees Peter Thiel as an investor and strategic partner in US technology.
Opman signed the appeal because he believed it was about the future of an important part of Norway’s business community.
The biggest challenge that Norwegian startups face is access to talent. For these companies to succeed, they often have to find competence in people who move to Norway to contribute, he says in a statement to E24.
E24 spoke to several who noted that many startups operate without income in the early stages, and entrepreneurs and early adopters are willing to go with low or no pay because they believe what they create can be a big long run.
They are willing to take great risks, but arrangements must be made to do so, Opman says.
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He is supported by partner Arne Tonning at Alliance Ventures.
Good entrepreneurs with the ability to execute are a critical resource in all countries, he says in a statement to E24.
Tonning has lived in Silicon Valley for several years, and notes that many of the large businesses in the area have been started by immigrants.
It is naive, of course, to think that Norway could easily copy or replicate Silicon Valley, he says.
– However, I think that the resources that come from abroad are just as important for Norway, as a relatively homogeneous country with a small domestic market.
The Labor Party had previously made positive statements about a separate entrepreneurial visa, according to it shifter.
But in a letter to the Norwegian Parliament’s Business Committee, Trade and Industry Minister Jan Christian Vester (Labour) wrote that they did not see any need to change the regulations – although he shared the view that it “could be beneficial to our overall value creation” if pioneers were found. Business and other skilled workers make their way to Norway.
Vistry, who also notes that changes to the regulations have recently been made following the study, wrote:
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Sadly, Kyle Havlicek-McClenahan thinks Scales investors don’t seem to be getting a return on their money — and existing customers aren’t likely to get product improvements.
Now they are investigating, among other things, whether they can sell the company.
– After I published my story, I received many different offers of jobs and acquisitions of the company. He says it shows that I am a resource for Norwegian society.
– If the authorities had been a little more flexible, they might have seen that, too. But blame is blame.
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