European Countries offering Golden Visa
John works on Wall Street in NYC. He works long days, 6 days a week, and lives in a small apartment some blocks from his office. He orders takeout for lunch and dinner and grabs a bagel on his way into work every morning. When it’s nice out he walks, on rainy days he takes a cab. John’s entire life takes place in the same 4 city blocks. He works hard and has a significant amount of money in the bank, but doesn’t want to invest in an apartment in New York. Instead, he wants to become a global citizen and obtain European citizenship, for him and his family.
John’s story is not unheard of. In fact, it’s one that is becoming more and more common. So much so that European countries have created programs called Golden Visa Programs that allow these investors to become global citizens. Depending on the country, investors can receive residency permits in exchange for investing in property or making donations to the country.
The investor receives a residency permit and the ability to live and travel freely within 26 EU countries (those in the Schengen area). This gives the investor freedom to travel, access to international healthcare, international investments (including the property they’ve purchased), as well as access to international educational opportunities. Furthermore, many of these countries will open the door to permanent citizenship at some point and most, if not all, allow citizenship for immediate members of the family as well.
Here’s a look at a few of the countries that are offering Citizenship through Investment:
This is widely considered to be the best Golden Visa program available. Though not the least expensive, they have a variety of options to qualify for the Golden Visa program and with their visa you have access to 171 other countries! Additionally, to keep up your membership you only have to spend a few weeks abroad every year. Live in your home country, but receive the benefits of Portuguese Residency. This does require the investment to be maintained and renewed every two years. To qualify:
o Transfer € 1 million into a bank in Portugal
o Invest € 500,000 into a qualifying small business
o Donate or invest € 350,000 into “research activities”
o Donate or invest € 250,000 into “arts and culture”
o Invest € 500,000 into real estate
o Invest € 350,000 into “urban” or distressed real estate
o Start a business that will employ 10 persons full time
Their Golden Visa program only takes a few months for acceptance, but to qualify for permanent residency it takes 5 years and for citizenship the investor must live in Spain for 10 years. To qualify for Spain’s Golden Visa program, the country requires a property investment of €500,000. Spain’s Golden Visa program has no requirement for the investor to reside in the country and offers full family residency. However, if the investor wishes to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, the investor and his/her family must reside in Spain. With real estate prices at the lowest in years, there is considerable potential for capital gains.
Because of their proximity and similarities, many investors tend to compare the Spanish Golden Visa Program with the Portuguese Golden Visa Program.
One of the most affordable countries, in order to access their Golden Visa program an investor only needs to invest in property from €250,000 (though with the high rate of property tax and fee’s that number is closer to €300,000.) Greece also does not require residency in order to maintain participation in the Golden Visa program, though citizenship does require 7 years of residency. Greece is a family-friendly option because they have provisions that allow residency for dependents up to 21 years of age.
The Cyprus Golden Visa program is one of the simpler programs, though there are a lot of stipulations. Investors have two choices for investment: permanent residency or citizenship. Cyprus is an attractive choice as most of the country speaks English and is also considered the 5th safest country in the world.
o Permanent Residency Requirements: All family members must visit Cyprus once every two years, an investment of €300,000 (plus costs and taxes) has to be made, full family qualification (to include grandparents and children up to age 25) and the applications only take about two months. The investment must be in a brand-new property.
o Citizenship Requirements: An investment of €2.0 million (or after 3 years just €500,000), full family qualification including children up to age 28, no residency requirement and full citizenship within 6 months. The only requirement is that the applicant must not have a criminal record.
By far, Malta is one of the stricter Golden Visa countries. In order to even apply for the Golden Visa, the investor must meet a few eligibility requirements. The investor must be 18 years old, have a clean criminal record, provide evidence that their annual income is at least €100,000 or holds capital of at least €500,000, and has a European health insurance. Once the investor has met those requirements, there are several investments they need to make in order to qualify.
o Qualifying investments: The investor must pay €30,000 to the Government of Malta, and this amount goes up with each relative added to the application. The investor also must either purchase or rent a property. The investor may purchase a property for a minimum value of €320,000 if situated in Malta or €270,000 if situated in Gozo/South Malta. Otherwise, the investor can rent a property for a minimum value of €12,000 if situated in Malta or €10,000 if situated in Gozo/South Malta. The third and final investment is a qualifying investment, determined by Identity Malta, for a minimum of €250,000.
There are other investment opportunities for residency programs available throughout the world, and these are just a few of the Golden Visa opportunities. These programs are developed to give investors an opportunity to become global citizens and expand their investment portfolios while experiencing richly diverse cultures.
The many different options available give potential investors a variety of choices and they have their pick from mountain living to a seaside paradise. The world is so large that those who have the ability to become a global citizen also have a responsibility to do so.