EU country to crack down on golden visas: what is the reason?
A few years ago, European countries actively granted so-called "golden visas" that allowed people to obtain residence permits or even citizenship in exchange for investments. However, the European Union is now seeing a massive abandonment of this option. Find out more about why this happened
Usually, the procedure for obtaining a residence permit or citizenship in another country is a long and complicated process. However, there are exceptions, in particular, many states offer to obtain residence permits in exchange for investing a certain amount of money in the country's economy. In some cases, such a permit can be issued without the need to reside in the state. These programs are widely known as the "golden visa".
Every year, many wealthy foreigners apply for a residence permit in their chosen country. However, in recent months, the "golden visa" programs in the EU countries have begun to gradually close or increase the requirements. For example, in October 2023, Portugal made changes to the procedure for issuing documents, canceling investment in real estate as a basis for applications for a "golden visa". In the same month, the Netherlands announced that it would end its golden visa program in January 2024. Spain is also already considering a similar scenario. Why are EU countries canceling "golden visa" programs? Details in our material.
What is the golden visa EU program?
The "golden visa" program offers a foreigner to obtain a residence permit in the country under the condition of buying real estate there or investing money in a business or making a donation. Together with the document, investors receive the benefits of living in the chosen state, including free movement, access to social services, the right to employment, etc.
The "golden passport" program is also common - states offer a foreigner to become a citizen of the country in exchange for investments.
The main requirements are to be over 18 years old, have no criminal record and have a certain amount of funds to invest.
Read more about the benefits and requirements of the "golden visa" program here.
Why are EU countries canceling golden visa programs?
In 2022, the European Commission called on state governments to stop selling citizenship to investors. They explained that this "poses security risks, money laundering, tax evasion, financing of terrorism, corruption and infiltration of organized crime and will be incompatible with EU norms."
Also in October 2022, the European Commission proposed to suspend the agreement with Vanuatu on the cancellation of visas due to the risks of the "golden passport". After all, this scheme allows citizens of third countries to obtain Vanuatu citizenship, which provides them with visa-free access to the countries of the Schengen zone.
In addition, the EU Parliament called on countries to once again check whether people who have been sanctioned because of Russia's war against Ukraine have a golden passport or a visa issued by a European country.
Which EU countries have already canceled the golden visa program?
In February 2022, the UK government scrapped its "golden visa" scheme, which allowed wealthy foreigners to settle in the country in exchange for investment. The decision was made as part of a move to curb dirty money from Russia.
Ireland also abolished its golden visa scheme in February 2023. Investors received a residence permit in the state in exchange for a donation of 500,000 euros or a three-year annual investment of 1 million euros in the country's economy.
That same month, Portugal's prime minister announced plans to scrap the country's "golden visa" program to curb speculation in property prices. From October 6, 2023, an investor can no longer apply for a golden visa through the purchase of real estate in Portugal. However, all visas issued before this date remain valid.
Which EU countries still offer golden visas and what are the requirements?
There are only a few countries left in the EU that offer investors "golden passports", one of them is Malta. The minimum investment amount is 690,000 euros, the investor receives a residence permit in the country for a period of 12 to 36 months.
Spain grants residence permits to foreigners and their families when they invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate in the country. You can also get a visa if you open a business in the state, buy shares or make a deposit in a Spanish bank in the amount of 1 million euros or more, or by investing at least 2 million euros in government bonds. However, some Spanish politicians have called for an end to the scheme, arguing that it affects the cost of housing in the country, does not create new jobs and does not benefit the economy. No formal agreement has been reached to end the scheme, but according to local media reports, Spain is considering tightening application requirements. In particular, increase investment requirements up to 1 million euros.
The "golden visa" program of Italy is widely popular. You can get a residence permit here for 2 years if you invest at least 500,000 euros in the country's economy. The advantage is that you can add family members to the application and take advantage of the special tax regime. After 10 years of residence in the country, you can apply for citizenship.
In Greece, the process of obtaining a residence permit under the "golden visa" program is one of the fastest in Europe. Eligible aliens can obtain a permit 60 days after application. As of May 1, 2023, the country has raised the minimum investment threshold to 500,000 euros to increase access to real estate for local residents. This update was implemented in the Athens area, the municipality of Thessaloniki and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, in other regions the threshold of 250,000 euros will remain unchanged. In general, Greece is the leader in Europe in the number of issued residence permits.
Changes in the "golden visa" programs in different countries of the world are collected here. The detailed procedure for obtaining Turkish citizenship in exchange for investment can be found at the link. We talked about the new "golden visa" program in Indonesia, in particular on the island of Bali, earlier.
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