A number of European countries now offer golden visas through real estate investment. Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are the most prominent of those. Together with Hungary and Bulgaria who offer residency and citizenship through investment in government bonds, investors now have several options to consider.
Not every country and programme is the same. There are significant differences relating to investment level, family qualification, permanent residency, minimum stay, citizenship and passports. Not least of all the differing economic states and real estate investment prospects of each of the countries in question.
The investor visa schemes currently in operation are as follows ;
The United Kingdom
The UK’s Tier 1 (Investor visa) allows foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area to apply for a temporary residence visa which lasts for three years initially. It can be renewed and visa holders will, in time qualify for permanent residence then citizenship. The minimum investment is £1m. Investment can be made in any government approved UK investment.
Latvia’s Immigrant Investor Visa currently allows those who make a minimum qualifying investment of 20,000 Latvian Lats to apply for a temporary residence visa lasting for five years. This scheme is probably the best value for money. The scheme opened in 2010 and thousands of visas have been issued but, in October 2013, The Latvian parliament approved changes to the scheme. If these are approved by the president, as of January 2014, the minimum investment will be €150,000. The visa application fee will also rise from about 70 Lats to some €50,000.
Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ scheme which opened in 2012, allows those who make a minimum investment of €500,000 to apply for a temporary resident visa. The initial visa lasts for one year and can be renewed twice for two year periods. At the end of that period, visa holders should be able to apply for permanent residency provided that they have fulfilled the minimum residence periods each year. Visa holders must spend at least seven days in Portugal in the first year and 14 days in the remaining four years. Thereafter, visa holders should be able to apply for citizenship. People who invest €1m in Portugal or set up a business which creates 10 jobs can also apply.
The Cyprus ‘F’ Visa
The Cyprus F visa was opened in 2012. The minimum qualifying investment is €300,000. Successful applicants will receive a three-year, renewable, temporary residence visa. Cyprus also offers a ‘fast track citizenship’ option for those who are able and willing to invest €10,000,000 in a qualifying investment.
Greece opened its version of the Golden Visa in July 2013. An investment of €250,000 in Greek property should secure a five year resident visa. Greece also issues visas to those who make ‘strategic investments’ and/or create or buy a business that employs at least ten people. Successful applicants will qualify for a 5-year temporary resident visa.
Spain’s temporary resident visa scheme is similar to Portugal’s. It was opened for applications in October 2013. As in Portugal, the Spanish visa is also known as the ‘golden visa’ and also has a minimum qualifying investment of €500,000 in property. Applicants can also invest €2,000,000 in Spanish government bonds. As in Portugal, successful applicants will, initially, receive a one-year, temporary residence visa which can be renewed twice for two year extensions.
Applicants in all countries can apply to bring their spouses and dependent children with them.
These visas are clearly not for everyone. The minimum qualifying investment is, in every case, a substantial sum of money. But government representatives in all countries report that interest is high. Most interest comes from China with significant further interest coming from the Russian Federation, India and various other countries in Africa, South America and Asia.
GOOD NEWS! Portugal will issue 400 Golden Visas each year!
The Portuguese government has so far issued 318 Golden Visas and say that they will issue about 400 each year. It remains to be seen what the effect of increased ‘competition’ from other EU states will be. One thing that appears to be certain is that, as the European economy continues to struggle, it is likely that more countries will join the rush and issue visas to people from outside the European Economic Area who are prepared to invest in property, bonds or businesses. If you would like to apply for a visa our tea, can help. We can also help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details at [email protected]