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Journey to the Best Country in the World

The isolation during the pandemic was excruciating. The world around us was closed and since being a global traveler, our families are spread around - with aging parents in India, siblings in US and us in Colombia. We did not know who would catch covid and to what extent. The more vulnerable were the parents - especially with no air connectivity from Latin America; only daily phone/ video calls. Adding to that was WFH.

The brighter side was that we knew this would not be forever - maybe longer than what we initially thought but definitely there would be an end to the pandemic. So, that set the wheels in motion to find a middle point - from India and US (home to our daughter). There was a natural choice - España, as we had picked up Spanish during our days in Bogota. The bigger question was how do we move there? Immigration was the issue - trying to find a job is easy, but sponsoring from prospective employers - a nightmare, only a handful of organizations want to do that these days.

So, as it happened, my wife loves cooking and started part-time cooking, giving cooking classes, organizing pop-ups. We thought we could replicate that in Europe and build a business out of it, given the market research that younger generations were converting to vegetarian/ vegan food for health changes. We applied to the Spanish Start Up visa program, the Danish program, the Austrian one, the Portuguese one and the Italian Start Up program. The Start-up Denmark Secretariat rejected our business plan while the Italian program stalled due to admin issues (have resumed as of January 2022).

We applied (online) to the Portugal Start Up visa program early August 2021. The IAPMEI, which is the entity entrusted to administer this program, says it takes 30 days to review the application. The basic documents needed are: a Business Plan, unofficial Background Check documents, Bank Statements, CVs and IDs. For our application, the time it took was 5 months - August 2, 2021 to December 21, 2021. We were elevated by this news and quickly approached the Portugal embassy in Bogota for a Visa Application appointment dates.

We both had applied as Entrepreneurs and got the dates for January 2022. From there it was a waiting game, the documents are then sent to SEF in Portugal, who study them and either send them a Request for Additional Information (RAI), Approve it or Reject it. This whole time should be less than 60 days. We did receive a basic RAI, and then 15 days later we received the approvals.

So, a process that should take only 4 months, ended up utilizing twice that time.

More details to follow in Part 2.

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