European Golden Visas: Choose the Best Option

Several European countries administer the so-called ‘golden visa’ programs. These programs allow people from other parts of the world to relocate to Europe on legal grounds by investing in the host country’s economy. We must note, however, that applicants to golden visa programs will have to supply clean criminal records in all cases.

National residence-by-investment programs can be closed sometimes, as has been the case with the Hungarian program, for example. In spring 2017, the Hungarian authorities stopped accepting investments in state bonds from foreign nationals that would make them qualified for legal residence in Hungary.

Golden visa

Luckily, several alternatives are still available in Europe. Any well-to-do law-abiding person can open a ‘golden door’ to Europe. Some people may think that a pro forma marriage will let them acquire legal grounds to settle down in Europe. However, experts issue a serious warning here: the laws are extremely strict in some countries as far as fictitious marriages are concerned. In Malta, for instance, the person who has married a Maltese citizen with the sole purpose of acquiring legal residence in the country may face a two-year confinement.

Golden visas to Europe: why European countries open their doors to foreign investors

The world is going through troubled times as far as economic development is concerned. The European Union as well as its individual member states are taking measures to improve the economic situation. One of such measures is attracting more foreign direct investments.

With this goal in mind, some national governments offer wealthy people from outside Europe an opportunity to purchase some real estate in the country, or put a considerable sum of money in a local bank, or create new jobs. In return, the foreign investor will be granted a legal residence permit in the country where he/ she brings the investment. Naturally, the permit will allow the foreigner to freely move across the entire continent.

In particular, Portugal, Spain, and Greece have golden visa (residence-by-investment) national programs. The authorities of some other European countries are closely studying the possibilities to start similar immigration programs, as the three countries mentioned above have been rather successful in attracting capital from abroad.

Ironically, the economic crisis that we are going through at the moment provides for perfect conditions to invest in the EU. Real estate prices have halved in some European states. The amount of money required for purchasing one house in Europe a few years ago will be sufficient for buying two houses now.

As far as Portugal is concerned, the country is desperate for investments in business that will also make you qualified for a legal residence permit in the country. Local companies do not have the money to invest and the Government is trying very hard to keep the unemployment rate in rein.


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Advantages that investors in European golden visas will acquire

Foreign nationals investing in Portuguese, Spanish, or Greek golden visas pursue different goals, of course. One of the greatest advantages that a European legal residence permit will bring, however, is the possibility to travel around Europe without applying for any visas. A legal resident of Spain, for example, is free to enter any EU country on his/ her permiso de residencia.

What is more, a European residence card holder is entitled to work in Europe too. Engaging in business operations is also entirely possible. Besides, if you are looking for a top-class educational institution for your children, Europe offers a great choice of world-renowned universities.  

Another important aspect of the golden visa programs that we are advertising here is the possibility of whether to relocate to Europe or simply visit the continent without a visa. That is to say, you have the right to live in Europe when you hold a residence permit but you have no obligation to do so.

Having the right, you may choose to use it and move to a European country. If you do so, you can also acquire its tax residence in addition to legal residence. The Portuguese golden visa program can be especially interesting in this respect because the local residence-by-investment program offers some tax incentives to new fiscal residents of the country.

If you relocate to Europe on your golden visa, you can acquire legal residence permits for the members of your family too via family reunification schemes. These schemes are available in all countries administering golden visa programs. After legally residing in a European country for a few years, you may become eligible for its citizenship. Please mind, however, that you will have to meet some additional requirements to qualify for a European passport.

As you can see, a golden visa is a mutually beneficial mechanism. The Old World receives foreign investments, which is what any national economy is always happy to have, and the foreign investor acquires the right of abode in Europe and visa-free travel opportunities. The legal status brings several other important advantages to the golden visa holder as well. Becoming a European citizen is an especially tempting opportunity for many people.

The financial requirements to foreign investors in European golden visas and the number of foreigners who have already obtained them

Several European states run residence-by-investment national programs and we discuss three most popular such programs below.

A golden visa to Portugal

Portugal Golden visa

The Portuguese golden visa program has been the most successful of all similar programs available in Europe. It has been breaking one record after another. According to the official data published by the Foreigner and Frontier Service (SEF) in June 2021, the local golden visa program has generated 5.3 billion euros in total. The best part of the investments (5 billion) has been made in real estate. The rest of the sum has come in the form of bank deposits and investments in venture funds.

The Portuguese golden visa program was launched on October 8, 2021. In total, 9,230 citizens of non-European countries have acquired legal residence permits in Portugal. Chinese and Russian investors are especially attracted by the opportunity to get legal residence in the country. By the way, the same goes for other golden visa programs.

The Portuguese residence-by-investment program is popular with foreigners because they are not obliged to spend any considerable amount of time in the country to retain their residence permits. They only have to bring the money (purchase real estate, make a bank deposit, or invest in a business venture) and spend a week in Portugal every year.

If they are able to meet these requirements, they can qualify for full citizenship of Portugal after holding the golden visa for five years only. The total amount of required investment can be a bit more than 200,000 euros under certain conditions.

A golden visa to Spain

Spain golden visa

With the Spanish golden visa program, a single investment option is available and this is purchase of real estate in the country (the same is true for Greece). As recent marketing research shows, foreign nationals are actively buying real property in Spain. Wealthy Turks and Arabs are becoming more and more interested in Spanish real estate as the political situations in their home countries are becoming less stable. The Chinese and Russians are the leaders among foreign investors in Spanish real estate, however.

You can qualify for a Spanish golden visa if you put at least 500,000 euros into real property in the country. Please mind that this is the minimum amount of money that you can invest in Spain to be eligible for a residence permit. In case the house that appeals to you costs more than that, you can take out a mortgage that will cover the rest of the cost. Mortgages can be obtained at very attractive interest rates in Spain.

A golden visa to Greece

Greece golden visa

The Greek golden visa program used to be extremely popular with foreign investors but it has lost pace recently due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown. Nevertheless, as of September 2021, 27,449 residence permits have been issued to foreigners applying for the Greek golden visa program. This is the total number of new legal residents of Greece including the main investors’ family members. The number of main investors is 9,129 at the moment when this text is written.

The financial options available to foreign investors seeking legal residence in Greece are as follows: you can buy a house or an apartment for at least 250,000 euros in the country or you can sign a ten-year rent agreement for the same amount. Besides, you can purchase a land lot and build a house there on the condition that the total amount of investment that you bring (the price of the land plus the price of the construction contract) is not less than the said amount.

Since the Greek golden visa program was started in 2013, it has generated at least 2.6 billion euros in the form of foreign direct investments.

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If you are interested in acquiring legal residence in Portugal, Spain, Greece, or some other foreign country, please do not hesitate to apply for our assistance in the matter. We will be happy to answer all your questions if you write to or contact us in any other way (please click on the Contact us icon above).

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