by Contributing Author
European Golden Visas provide foreign investors an excellent opportunity to access all the benefits Europe offers its citizens. Today Greece, Portugal, Spain, and some other EU countries provide alluring residency-by-investment programs.
Many investors and business people worldwide seek opportunities to obtain a residence permit in European countries. The easiest way to get it is to take advantage of one of the residence permit programs in exchange for investments, the so-called European Golden Visa.
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Today, there are several European countries with Golden Visa. Their general requirements for applicants are as follows:
- The age of the investor is 18 or older.
- Fulfillment of investment obligations.
- Stable and regular income.
- No criminal record.
- No debts to the tax service.
- No involvement in money laundering and financing of terrorism.
- No sanctions, no restrictions on entry into the European Union.
However, each program has unique investment and residence conditions.
We’ll consider the best Golden Visa Programs in Europe below to make it easier for the investor to choose the program.
Greece provides the most affordable residence by investment program among all Golden Visa countries in the EU. The amount of investments starts from EUR 250,000. The processing time is two months. There is no requirement to stay in the country before and after obtaining a residence permit. You can renew the status every five years.
However, the Greek Golden Visa does not grant the right to work for hire, and the investor’s source of income must be outside Greece.
Non-EU investors have several options in how to participate in the program:
1. Real estate investments of EUR 250,000 or more:
- You can purchase one or more properties.
- You can conclude a ten-year lease agreement for a hotel or tourist complex.
2. Investments in securities above or worth EUR 400,000:
- Investment in a Greek company.
- Purchase of government bonds.
- Investments in venture funds.
3. Opening a deposit with a Greek bank for over EUR 400,000.
Spain provides another popular golden Visa in Europe. But compared to the Greek program, the minimum investment amount is more than twice and is EUR 500,000. Furthermore, there are no residence requirements if the applicant does not need permanent residence. Still, the program grants the right to work in the country.
The entrepreneur can get a Golden Visa of Spain by:
- Purchasing a property worth EUR 500,000 or more;
- Investing EUR 1,000.000 in Spanish companies;
- Buying of government bonds for EUR 1,000.000;
- Depositing EUR 1,000.000 in a Spanish bank.
Portugal is also among the top countries that provide Golden Visa in Europe. The minimum investment amount required starts from EUR 280,000. The period for considering the applications is three months.
Stay requirements are quite loyal: seven days in the first year and 14 days following periods of two years.
Non-EU residents can choose among three investment options:
- Real estate investment:
Buy residential or commercial property from EUR 500,000. The starting conditions for assets in low GDP and population density areas are lower — EUR 400,000.
If the property is over 30 years old and needs renovation, the threshold goes down to EUR 350,000 and EUR 280,000 (for regions with low population densities).
- Business investment:
Create ten new jobs; the number of funds invested does not matter.
Invest at least EUR 500,000 in the business and create a minimum of new workplaces.
- Сapital expenditure
Deposit in a Portuguese bank EUR 1,500.000.
Invest EUR 500,000 in research activity in your local economy.
Donate EUR 250,000 to support artistic production, restoration, and preservation of the national cultural heritage.
Cyprus is not part of the Schengen zone, so a Cyprus residence permit does not allow you to travel freely in Europe. Also, the residents do not have the right to work in the country.
However, despite these limitations, Cyprus remains one of the most popular countries for getting a Golden Visa in Europe.
The country attracts non-EU investors and wealthy people from developing countries through its loyal tax regime.
The Cyprus Investment Program allows you to obtain a permanent residence permit in two months by buying one or more properties.
The required investment amount starts from EUR 300,000.
The property to be invested in must be a primary residence directly from the developer.
The purchase of secondary real estate does not fall under the program.
Investors must also deposit a minimum of EUR 30,000 with a bank in Cyprus for at least three years. They also have to provide documentary proof of their income (the applicant’s annual income must be more than EUR 30,000, plus 5,000 for the wife and children and 8,000 for each of the parents).
The processing time is two-three months. In addition, the applicant must fly to the island to submit biometric data after obtaining a permanent residence permit. Visiting the country at least every two years is necessary to maintain a resident status.
Residency status allows applying for citizenship in Cyprus after five years.
Malta launched a new permanent residence program in 2021. It allows foreign investors from non-EU countries to quickly and legally obtain a valid residence permit in Europe.
According to Immigrant Invest Agency expert Evgeniya Morozova, to be eligible to apply for the program, investors must meet the primary condition of proving that they hold up to EUR 500,000 in assets (of which EUR 150,000 must be in the form of financial assets).
The investment requirements for the applicants are as follows:
- Cover administrative fees of a total of EUR 40,000.
- Donate EUR 2,000 to a voluntary organization.
- Invest in one of the following property options:
- Rent a property in the South of Malta or Goz for EUR 10,000 per annum or 12,000 for other regions.
- Purchase a property in the South of Malta or Gozo for a minimum of EUR 300,000 or 350,000 for other areas.
- Contribute EUR 58,000 (renting option) or EUR 28,000 (buying property option) to the Government of Malta.
Investors can apply for naturalization as Maltese citizens after living permanently for at least five years.
Gold visas give plenty of advantages to their holders:
- Almost all Golden Visa countries in the EU are in the Schengen area. So their residents can travel visa-free around Europe.
- An investor may include family members in the application for a residence permit.
- Non-EU entrepreneurs can get an opportunity to do business in countries with stable economies.
- Investors and their families get access to European education and high-quality medical care.
- It is an opportunity to live in a safe and stable country.
- It is possible to apply for full citizenship in a European country. However, the applicant should meet some criteria that vary from country to country.
With all these advantages, it is no wonder many entrepreneurs are ready to invest big money to get residence permits under one of the EU Golden Visa Programs.
Of course, obtaining a residence permit in a European country on a general basis also is possible. However, this is a very complex and lengthy process.