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April 1, 2024
10 min

What Are the Cheapest Golden Visa Programs Worldwide?

Brittany Collins - head of legal department

Obtaining residency in another country through Investment is increasingly appealing, especially when it's cost-effective. Investors can get a Caribbean passport with unlimited access to Schengen states for $100,000 in 2—6 months.

Many nations offering these programs have favourable tax rates, which may result in lower taxes on income generated within their borders or even worldwide earnings depending upon individual taxation policies.

Golden visas allow individuals and families to secure a better future. They provide benefits like freedom of movement, potential citizenship prospects, and, more importantly — an insurance policy against political or economic instability at home.

What Are the Cheapest Golden Visa Programs Worldwide?

Cheapest Golden Visas: Overview

When examining golden visa programs, the cost is often a pivotal consideration. It’s essential to comprehend each program’s minimum investment requirement and compare it with others regarding the benefits provided.

Applicants must make a considerable financial commitment, such as purchasing real estate, investing in government bonds with set maturity periods, establishing businesses or other significant contributions to qualify for these visas. The minimum investment amount starts from €50,000.

Golden Visas from Cheapest to Most Expensive

Country

Minimum investment

Processing time

1

Latvia

€50,000

1—3 monts

2

Antigua and Barbuda

$100,000

4—6 months

3

Dominica

$100,000

2—6 months

4

St Lucia

$100,000

3—4 months

5

Vanuatu

$130,000

1—2 months

6

Anguilla

$150,000

3 months

7

Grenada

$150,000

4—6 months

8

Malta

€150,000

2—4 months

9

Cambodia

$250,000

3—4 months

10

Greece

€250,000

2—6 months

11

Italy

€250,000

3+ months

12

Portugal

€250,000

8—10 months

13

St Kitts and Nevis

$250,000

6+ months

14

UAE

AED 750,000

2+ months

15

Cyprus

€300,000

3+ months

16

Turkey

$400,000

6—8 months

17

Andorra

€400,000

3 months

18

Luxembourg

€500,000

4—6 months

19

Spain

€500,000

2—3 months

20

USA

$870,000

5+ years

21

Netherlands

€1,250,000

1—2 months

22

Australia

AUD 2,500,000

1—2 years

23

New Zealand

NZD 5,000,000

5—6 months

6 Reasons for Golden Visa Programs Popularity

Golden visa programs have witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity, especially over the last few years. To put things into perspective, these schemes brought an impressive €5.5 billion across Europe in 2023 alone.

The main driving force behind this increasing interest is their potential benefits to foreign investors. One such benefit is visa-free travel within certain regions like the Schengen Area for European golden visa holders.

1. Moving freely across borders with golden visas. This privilege allows individuals to move freely between countries without worrying about obtaining separate permits each time for business or leisure purposes, which can often prove cumbersome and time-consuming.

It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who require frequent international mobility due to business commitments or personal preferences.

2. Boosting economies through foreign Investment via golden visas. Beyond personal advantages for investors, golden visas serve as potent economic tools governments utilise to attract much-needed foreign Investment to their economies.

These funds are usually directed toward sectors that need financial support, such as growth stimulation, real estate development, and infrastructure projects.

3. Business expansion. Investors can use their residency to explore business opportunities in the host country and expand their business operations to new markets.

4. Education and healthcare. Investors and their families can access the host country’s high-quality education and healthcare systems.

5. Tax planning. Some countries offer favourable tax regimes for resident or citizen investors, which can help optimise their tax liabilities.

6. Potential citizenship: an attractive prospect offered by many programs. An enticing aspect of many golden visas is the possibility of becoming future citizens once specific requirements are met, involving a minimum stay period and sometimes even passing a local language test.

However, it is essential to note that not all programs guarantee this pathway; hence, one must conduct comprehensive research before committing to any program.

Golden Visas Major Requirements

The concept of golden visas has piqued interest among affluent individuals seeking new vistas beyond their native lands. A residence permit obtained through Investment and a golden visa offers many opportunities and benefits.

While prerequisites for these programs vary globally, some fundamental requirements are consistent across all schemes:

  • being above a certain age threshold;

  • having an operational local bank account in the foreign country where one is investing;

  • providing proof demonstrating financial stability or income sufficiency;

  • and maintaining impeccable legal and financial records.

Applicants must typically be 18 or older to apply for a golden visa program, though this may vary depending on the regulations of each country’s scheme; thus, potential investors must conduct comprehensive research before beginning any application process.

An active local bank account is part of many global golden visa program application processes. The rationale behind this requirement serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it facilitates the easy transfer of funds necessary for making investments as per minimum investment amount stipulations. Secondly, it showcases your monetary capacity when applying under such schemes.

You’re also required to provide solid proof demonstrating sufficient income or assets availability — not only presently but sustainably over time, too — ensuring future obligations arising from holding such visas can be met comfortably. It could involve presenting documents like tax returns and pay slips.

Maintaining impeccable records. The last but certainly not least important factor while applying for these programs involves legally and financially maintaining a clean reputation. Any red flags here could potentially jeopardise the chances of approval regardless of how strong the rest of the aspects appear otherwise.

By comprehending core concepts related to obtaining golden visas, potential investors make informed decisions about whether pursuing options aligns well with long-term goals and aspirations.

Top 5 Cheapest Golden Visa Programs

1. Latvia Golden Visa requires a business capital contribution starting from just $50,000. Unlike many other golden visa programs, which lean heavily towards real estate or government bonds as primary options, Latvia seeks to attract foreign investors who can make meaningful contributions to their economy by establishing businesses.

It provides an enticing alternative for individuals who prefer business ventures over traditional routes, such as:

  • real estate purchases;

  • government bond contributions.

This strategy brings diverse investments into the country, invigorates local industries, and creates job opportunities for residents.

To apply under this category, you first need to establish a company registered with Lursoft, which is mandatory before making any financial commitment intended for the project.

2. Antigua and Barbuda Golden Visa Program allows wealthy individuals to obtain the country’s citizenship by Investment. Getting it takes only from 3 to 6 months.

There are several investment options:

  • donations to the National Development Fund — $100,000;

  • contribution to the University of the West Indies Fund — $150,000;

  • real estate purchase — $200,000;

  • business investment — $400,000.

Investment in a property is the most popular choice. Applicants must buy shares in real estate projects approved by the Antigua and Barbuda government.

The investor must maintain the Investment for at least 5 years. Then it is allowed to sell a property and return the money.

Antiguan passport holders can benefit from visa-free access to 150 countries, such as the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore. And the list keeps growing, giving you more freedom to explore the world without hassle.

3. The Dominica Golden Visa Program is the first route involving making an irrevocable contribution to Dominica’s Economic Diversification Fund, EDF. Unlike most countries mandating substantial Investment in real estate or government bonds, Dominica presents two primary paths for obtaining a golden visa — donation and property investment.

Dominica offers two affordable routes:

  1. $100,000 donation to the Economic Diversification Fund.

  2. $200,000 Investment in approved real estate.

A minimum donation amount of $100,000 is required from individual applicants. However, this figure escalates if you plan on incorporating dependents into your application; for instance, it increases to $200,000 for families comprising four members.

If tangible assets appeal more than donations as part of your strategy towards participation in the golden visa program, consider opting for property investments instead.

It requires applicants to invest at least $200,000 in approved real estate projects within Dominican territory that span luxury resorts, villas, and boutique hotels.

4. St Lucia Golden Visa was launched in 2015. When participating in it, one is not required to visit St Lucia as all the procedures can be finished remotely. For this reason, applicants must have a licensed agent to conduct the whole process on behalf of the investor. In general, acquiring a Golden Visa takes at least 4 months.

St Lucia offers four investment options for foreign investors:

  • non-refundable contribution to the National Economic Fund — $100,000;

  • real estate purchase — $200,000;

  • bond purchase — $300,000;

  • business investment — $1,000,000.

A St Lucia passport allows you to travel visa-free to over 140 countries, including the European Union. No more visa applications or long embassy wait times.

5. Vanuatu Golden Visa is priced at a contribution to the government fund plus other costs. The donation amount varies based on the number of applicants and starts at $130,000.

The minimum Investment required was as follows:

  • single applicant: a non-refundable contribution of at least $130,000;

  • applicant with spouse: a non-refundable donation of at least $150,000.

Additional fees, such as due diligence, will cost $5,000 for a family. Processing and legal fees may also apply and can vary depending on the number of dependents in the application.

The Vanuatu Golden Visa provides several benefits, including potential tax advantages and the right to live, work, and study in Vanuatu. Vanuatu accepts cryptocurrency investments, showing how forward-thinking and technologically advanced they are.

Spotlight on Portugal Successful Golden Visa Program

Golden visa programs are vast and varied, but one nation stands out. The Portugal Golden Visa program has become a beacon for foreign investors seeking European residency.

Under the Golden Visa program, non-EU citizens are eligible for Portuguese residency if they undertake certain types of Investment in the country, including:

  • €250,000 investment in cultural heritage;

  • €500,000 investment in research activities;

  • €500,000 of funds units purchased;

  • €500,000 in small and medium-sized Portuguese companies.

The Golden Visa program grants a temporary residence permit in Portugal for 5 years, requiring the holder to spend at least 7 days in Portugal in the first year and at least 14 days in each subsequent two-year period.

The Non-habitual resident (NHR) tax regime allows certain types of income sourced overseas to be exempt from local taxation, making it especially beneficial if a substantial portion of your earnings come from outside the borders.

Cheapest Portugal Golden Visa

After holding Portugal Golden Visa for five years, you can apply not only for permanent resident status but also for citizenship without needing to reside here full time during these initial years

Why Greece Golden Visa Attracts Foreigners

Greece is one of the most economical options, demanding an investment starting from €250,000 under its Golden Visa Program. This scheme allows investors to acquire property while offering a residence permit that can be renewed every five years without additional investments.

Greece offers several options for investors to obtain a residence-by-investment visa. Most of them have to do with buying or renting real estate:

  • the investor can buy residential and commercial properties in any area of Greece. It’s allowed to rent the real estate out;

  • the investor can rent a hotel or a tourist residence, making a one-time payment before getting a residence permit;

  • the investor can buy a plot of land to build a house or a farm. The Investment includes the building contractors’ services and the site’s overall cost;

  • the investor can sign an agreement that gives the right to use the property for specific periods, for example, from July 1st to 31st every year for 10 years;

  • inheriting real estate or getting it as a gift. The inheritor must pass Due Diligence and submit the documents required in the residence permit application.

As holders of golden visas, investors and their families enjoy visa-free travel within all EU Schengen Zone countries — making it easier to explore Europe without hassle.

Cheapest Greece Golden Visa

Greece's capital and largest city, Athens, is a significant coastal metropolis on the Mediterranean. It is also the eighth largest urban area in the European Union, with a population of over three million

Exploring Malta’s Residency by Investment Options

Foreign investors are drawn to Malta for its Mediterranean lifestyle, strong economy and political stability, all of which contribute to the country’s appeal as a desirable destination. The country’s residency by investment programs are particularly appealing due to their flexibility and potential benefits.

Malta Permanent Residency by Investment, is a program that allows wealthy individuals to become Maltese residents by investing. Under the Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP), an applicant must fulfil several investment requirements.

Real estate investment can be made in one of two ways:

  • rent a property with a minimum annual rent of €10,000 in the South of Malta or Gozo or €12,000 in the rest of Malta;

  • purchase a property for a minimum value of €300,000 in the South of Malta or Gozo or €350,000 in the rest of Malta.

The chosen property must be held for at least five years and cannot be rented out or sublet during this time​​.

The contribution fee is the following:

  • if purchasing a property, you must pay €28,000;

  • if leasing a property, the contribution is €58,000.

A mandatory donation of €2,000 must be made to a local philanthropic, cultural, scientific, artistic, sport, or animal welfare NGO registered with the Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations​.

Cheapest Malta Golden Visa

Valletta, the island's largest and most populous city, serves as an excellent launching point for exploration

Unpacking Turkey’s Versatile Investment Options

Another noteworthy contender among the cheapest golden visas is Turkey, granting citizenship by investment. The government Investment program offers varied choices including:

  1. Purchase of real estate — $400,000;

  2. Business investment — $500,000;

  3. Bank deposit — $500,000;

  4. Purchase of government bonds — $500,000;

  5. Purchase of units in an investment fund — $500,000.

This flexibility offered by Turkey’s citizenship by investment program enables foreign investors the freedom to decide on the type and level of financial commitment they are willing to make towards obtaining permanent residency status.

Turkey’s golden visa program stands out in its category, offering diverse investment options to potential applicants. While real estate investments are common pathways for many countries' programs, Turkey presents multiple avenues toward securing a golden visa.

Cheapest Turkey Golden Visa

The picturesque Cappadocia region of central Turkey is known for its fairytale landscapes, cave houses, amazing rock formations, and the hordes of hot air balloons that take to the skies each morning

Anguilla Unique Approach to Golden Visa: Contribution or Property Investment

The country’s government launched a program to obtain permanent residency.

Investors choose between two investment options:

  • a non-refundable contribution to the Capital Development Fund (CDF) — $150,000;

  • investment in real estate or business ventures — $750,000.

Anguilla permanent residency gives benefits like an opportunity to create a haven, optimise taxes and obtain British citizenship after several years.

There are also several noteworthy golden visa programs to apply for residency or citizenship.

Cheapest Anguilla Golden Visa

Anguilla is famous for the many water activities it offers to residents and guests, such as snorkelling, sailing, and yachting

Application Process for a Golden Visa

The pathway to procuring a golden visa may appear daunting, yet it can be broken down into more straightforward steps by becoming familiar with the procedure. Let's explore these steps in detail.

1

Up 1 month

Selecting your preferred country

Your first task is choosing an appropriate country that aligns with your investment goals and lifestyle aspirations. This decision should be independent of minimum investment amounts or quick processing times offered by various golden visa programs.

Tax implications are another crucial factor when selecting your preferred country, as some nations offer attractive tax rates to lure foreign investors. In contrast, others might have higher taxes, which could impact overall returns.

2

Up 2 months

Making the required Investment

Once you’ve selected the desired destination, the next step is making the required financial commitment. Each nation has specific requirements, varying from purchasing property, investing in government bonds, or contributing to certain investment funds.

3

Up 1 month

Submitting an application

To apply successfully, one must provide the necessary documentation, including proof of income and evidence showing all legal obligations have been met regarding residency rights within the chosen jurisdiction.

You will likely require professional assistance from lawyers who specialise in immigration matters and due diligence checks, so ensure that the costs are factored into budget considerations upfront.

4

2—8 months

Receiving residence permit

Your efforts will continue once the approval is granted. Upon receiving the residence permit, further steps like setting up bank accounts become necessary, depending on individual circumstances.

Given the new responsibilities attached, this final stage often feels rewarding yet daunting. However, most governments provide ample support during the transition period, ensuring a smooth social integration.

Disadvantages of Golden Visas

The most prominent challenge lies within these programs' high minimum investment requirements, ranging from hundreds of thousands of euros to millions, depending on specific program details.

An additional consideration relates to changes in government policies affecting existing or prospective golden visa holders negatively. Governments may alter their regulations at any point, potentially impacting those already holding or planning to apply for such visas.

Lastly, while investing abroad presents exciting avenues for exploration and growth economically, socially, and culturally, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and dealing with unfamiliar legal systems, customs, and practices might prove challenging for some individuals.

Conclusion

  1. The right golden visa program can offer attractive investment opportunities. Some countries provide avenues for investing in thriving real estate markets or promising business ventures that could lead to substantial growth over time.

  2. Many nations offering these programs have favourable tax rates, which may result in lower taxes on income generated within their borders or even worldwide earnings depending upon individual taxation policies.

  3. Besides being financially beneficial, golden visas often come bundled with extensive travel benefits, including visa-free access to numerous countries around the globe. It makes it simpler to travel and presents new chances for doing business abroad.

  4. Obtaining a golden visa might eventually pave the way towards acquiring citizenship if certain conditions are met — providing you with another passport and enhancing global mobility.

  5. Holding a residence permit from another nation provides an added layer of security during political instability or economic uncertainty at home. Having alternative residency options abroad serves as insurance against unforeseen circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions