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European Golden Visas – How to Get EU Permanent Residence by Investment


July 2023 Blog-compressed
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Golden Visa, International buyers, EU
Golden Visa




What Is a Golden Visa?


A “Golden Visa” is an immigration program that grants wealthy individuals a residence permit in a foreign country in return for a substantial investment. A “Golden Passport “, on the other hand, is a program that grants someone the citizenship and the passport of the county in which they have invested. In both instances, the investor is (usually) not required to live full-time in the country in which they have invested.


To be eligible for a Golden Visa or Golden Passport in Europe, your investment should be quite large, ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Considering the amount of money involved and the fact the investment is in a foreign country, it can be overwhelming.


Fortunately, consultancy companies, such as ours – Golden Visas, are a great resource when it comes to golden visa programs, since they have a range of programmes on hand, offering consultations on international accountancy, investment property, and residency and citizenship abroad. Most potential investors abroad will need all these experts either way, so it’s probably easier to just have them all in the same place.


European Golden Visa


You will receive a European Golden Visa if you purchase a property or make a large investment in a European country. EU Golden Visas are issued in the form of a temporary residence permit, which can be renewed continuously for as long as you maintain your investment (or until you become eligible for permanent residency). The EU Member States that issue Golden Visas or investment programs include Spain, Greece, and Malta as some of the most popular.


You do not always have to live in the EU State to keep renewing your residence permit. However, to obtain permanent residence or citizenship, most States will require actual residency.


Citizenship is not guaranteed if you receive a Golden Visa. To receive citizenship in a certain EU State via a Golden Visa, you must spend a specific amount of time living there. Requirements for citizenship by investment depend on each State separately, but you are usually looking at about seven to ten years of continuous residency.


European Golden Passport


Golden Passport programs are a facilitated way of obtaining an EU passport in return for an investment. Investors who are part of Golden Passport schemes do not need to live in the EU State in which they invested to obtain citizenship, but EU citizenship is not instantaneous. For example, Portugal (which is one of the most popular Golden Passport schemes in Europe) only grants citizenship five years after the initial investment.


Portugal and Bulgaria are the only EU Member States which offer the possibility of a second passport to investors who are not full-time residents.


Requirements for a Golden Visa or Golden Passport


The eligibility requirements for a Golden Visa or Golden Passport are different from country to country, but generally include the following:


You must own the money intended for investment.

The money must have been acquired legally.

You must have no history of criminal records.

You must be able to sustain yourself and your family members for the period you intend to live in the EU State.


Do the Same Conditions Apply to Family Members?


Yes, in most cases, a Golden Visa or Passport is issued to the main investor, as well as their immediate family members (spouse and children).


How Much Investment Is Required for a Golden Visa?


The amount of money you must invest to be eligible for a Golden Visa depends on the country.


Some countries, such as Spain, Portugal, or Greece offer residence by investing in real estate, companies, government bonds, or certain industries in the country, though some are beginning to close certain programmes due to their popularity, and the domestic kick-back on empty real assets denying locals from buying and pushing up capital values.


In cases, the amount of money required for investments usually does not exceed €500,000.


On the other hand, there are EU countries such as Switzerland, Italy, and Austria which require a much more active investment method, such as creating job opportunities. Investment requirements in these countries are higher.


We can guide you in the right direction on exactly what type of investment is the best for you.


Can You Get a Loan to Pay for a Golden Visa?


No, you cannot. If you intend to make an investment as a means of obtaining residency, you will need to prove that the money being invested is in your name, so no loans are allowed.


However, if you intend to purchase a property, a mortgage may be allowed, depending on the country. You still must pay the minimum amount of money required upfront, and for anything over the minimum required amount, you can get a mortgage or loan. But remember, the exact rules change from country to country, so this may not always be true.


Which EU Countries Offer Golden Visas and Investment Schemes?


EU countries that offer Golden Visas, Golden Passports, and other residency-by-investment schemes are:


Spain

Portugal

Greece

Italy

Malta

Switzerland

Austria

Belgium

Germany

Bulgaria

Ireland


Spain


The most common method of getting a Spanish Golden Visa is by investing in real estate. You need to purchase a property amounting to at least €500,000.


Conditions


To be eligible for a Spain Golden visa, you must make one of the following investments:


Invest in real estate amounting to at least €500,000.

Invest in shares in a Spanish company or bank deposits of at least €1 million.

Invest in Spanish public debt, at least €2 million.


Benefits


There is no minimum stay requirement.

All family members can make use of visa-free travel in Schengen.

If you decide to live in Spain, you can get permanent residence in five years, and citizenship and an EU passport in ten years.


Portugal


If you invest in Portugal, you can obtain a Golden Passport in as little as five years – without the need to reside in the country. After you finalize your investment, you initially receive a residence permit, which can be extended up to five years, after which you become eligible for citizenship.


Conditions


To be eligible for the Portuguese citizenship by investment, you must make one of the following investments:


Purchase real estate amounting to at least €500,000.

Purchase real estate in an urban regeneration area at least 30 years old, amounting to min. €350,000.

Make a capital transfer of at least €1 million.

Create at least 10 job positions.

Invest at least €350,000 in scientific research.

Invest at least €250,000 in arts, culture, and heritage.

Invest at least €500,000 in a small/medium business.


Benefits


The investment options can start at €250,000.

You only need to spend one to two weeks per year in Portugal to renew the visa.

You can apply for citizenship after five years, without needing to live in Portugal. Ties to Portugal and acquiring language is a requirement for citizenship, however.

You and your family members will enjoy the freedom of movement through the Schengen Zone.


Greece


You can get a Greek Golden Visa by purchasing real estate worth at least €250,000 or another type of investment. Although there is no required minimum stay to renew the visa, if you want to acquire citizenship, you must live in Greece for seven years.


Requirements


To be eligible for a Greek Golden Visa, you must make one of the following investments:


Purchase real estate worth at least €500,000.

Make an investment of at least €400,000 in Greek government bonds.

Make an investment of at least €400,000 in a Greek company.

Make an investment of at least €400,000 in bank deposits in Greece.


Benefits


No minimum stay requirements

Relatively low investment options

Visa can be renewed every five years if the investment is retained.

You can get Greek citizenship after seven years of residence.

Freedom of movement in the Schengen Zone for all family members

The visa can include the spouse, children up to 21 years of age, and both sets of parents.


Italy


Italy does not offer a path to residency or citizenship via the purchase of a property. To get an Italian Golden Visa (Investor Visa), you must invest in a company or donate.


Conditions


To be eligible for the Italy Golden Visa, you must make one of the following investments:


Invest in a Government Bond issued by the Italian Republic.

Invest at least €500,000 company incorporated and operating in Italy.

Invest at least €250,000 in an innovative start-up.

Make a philanthropic donation in the fields of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage.


Benefits


Visa-free travel to Schengen Zone for yourself and your family members

Visa can be renewed every two years if you have maintained the investment.

After five years of residency, you can apply for permanent residency.

After ten years, you can apply for Italian citizenship.


Malta


You can obtain a Maltese passport in as little as one year through the Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment scheme. These are the options for obtaining Malta citizenship by investment:


Invest €600,000 in the Maltese development fund and you will receive a Maltese passport after 36 months of residency.

Invest 750,000 in the Maltese development fund and you will receive a Maltese passport after 12 months of residency.

In addition to the main investment, you are also required to invest in real estate (either through purchasing a residential property or entering a rental agreement), as well as make a €10,000 philanthropic donation.


Switzerland


The Golden Visa program for Switzerland is much more rigorous than it is in most other countries. For one, to receive residency via investment in Switzerland, you would have to make one of the following investments:


Form a company that offers employment opportunities for Swiss nationals.

Pay annual tax of between CHF 150,000 and CHF 1 million, depending on which canton you wish to settle.

Additionally, the required settlement period before you can receive permanent residency or citizenship is also higher. You need to live in Switzerland for at least 10 years to get permanent resident status and at least 12 years to get citizenship.


Austria


Like Switzerland, you cannot get an Austrian Golden Visa by purchasing real estate or similar non-active investments. To receive residency by investment in Austria, you would have to invest in something which would create jobs and have an impact on the Austrian economy.


The options include:


Investing at least €10 million directly into a business

Investing at least €3 million in the government development fund.

Belgium


Belgium does not offer a Golden Visa based on purchasing a property – in this case also, the investment must be more active.


To be eligible for a Belgian Golden Visa, you must create a company and invest €350,000 – €500,000 for a period of five years.


You can only receive citizenship in Belgium after five years of residency.


Germany


Germany does not have a Golden Visa programme; however, you can still obtain a German residence permit and citizenship by investment if you start a business that fulfils an economic interest or need.


Bulgaria


Bulgaria offers a citizenship by investment program, which allows you to gain citizenship in as quickly as 18 months. There are two pathways to Bulgarian citizenship by investment:


Invest €512,000 (BGN 1 million) in an approved investment program and apply for citizenship after 5 years of residence in Bulgaria.

Invest an additional €512,000 and obtain citizenship after only 18 months of residence (the fast-track scheme).


Ireland


To obtain Irish citizenship by investment, you must invest in one of the following government-approved options:


Enterprise Investment – Invest at least €1 million.

Investment Fund – Invest at least €1 million.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) – Invest at least €2 million.

Endowment – Contribute at least €500,000.

>> How to Get Irish Residence Permit & Citizenship by Investment


Cyprus


As of November 1, 2020, you can no longer apply for a Cyprus Golden Visa.


To get Citizenship by Investment in Cyprus (Golden Passport), you must make an investment of €2 million. You must also make an additional donation of €75,000 to the Cypriot Research and Development fund and a €75,000 to the Land Development Organisation, for a total of €2,150,000.


You can get Cypriot citizenship within six months via this program.


To get Permanent Residence by Investment in Cyprus (Golden Visa), you must purchase property amounting to at least €300,000. The Residence Permit includes your family members as well, including children up to 25 years of age.


Do Countries Outside EU Offer Golden Visas?


Yes, several countries outside the European Union also offer Golden Visas. This includes:


Antigua and Barbuda

Canada

Montenegro

New Zealand

Singapore

Kitts and Nevis

Lucia

The United States of America

Turkey

United Kingdom


If you are not sure which is the right country for your investment, you can contact us. We cover over 18 programme options worldwide and can help you choose the best route forward, by considering your family structure, country of residency, and financing. We can facilitate the procurement of residency and citizenship through international real estate investment.


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