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June 3, 2024
9 min

Countries with easiest and fastest Golden Visa Programs

Brittany Collins

Obtaining a Golden Visa to become a citizen or a resident of another country remains a popular option among investors who are willing to put their time and money into the process.

At the same time, these investors tend to be quite busy people, so they appreciate it when the process is as effortless as possible.

Here, we are taking a look at the Golden Visa programs that can be considered the easiest to obtain.

Countries with easiest and fastest Golden Visa Programs

Countries with easiest and fastest Golden Visa Programs

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a program that allows investors to obtain citizenship or residency in another country by making a contribution to its economy.

In most cases, applicants agree to invest in real estate or national development funds. Other countries encourage foreigners to invest in local businesses or government bonds.

In total, approximately 100 countries globally have legislation for Golden Visas. Some programs are more popular than others, especially if the Golden Visa is comparatively cheap or fast to obtain.

8 cheapest Golden Visas

Country

Minimum investment

Latvia

€50,000

Antigua and Barbuda

$100,000

Dominica

$100,000

St Lucia

$100,000

Vanuatu

$130,000

Anguilla

$150,000

Grenada

$150,000

Malta

€150,000

8. Malta Permanent Residence Programme. Investors need to meet several requirements to apply for permanent residency. First of all, the real estate investment can be done in one of two ways:

  • rent a property for at least €10,000 a year in the south of Malta or Gozo or €12,000 a year in the rest of Malta;

  • buy a property for at least €300,000 in the south of Malta or Gozo or €350,000 in the rest of Malta.

The property must be held for five years and cannot be rented out or sublet throughout this period.

The investor also must make a contribution of €58,000 if they rent a property and €28,000 if they buy it. An extra €7,500 fee is required for each adult dependent in the application, except the spouse.

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

Finally, the applicant also pays a non-refundable administrative fee of €40,000.

7. Grenada Citizenship by Investment. As well as other Caribbean countries, Grenada offers two options for investors to obtain citizenship: a non-refundable contribution to the National Transformation Fund and a real estate purchase with a five-year return term. However, the required investment is bigger: $150,000 and $220,000, respectively.

6. Anguilla Golden Visa. A non-refundable contribution of $150,000 makes an investor eligible for permanent residency. The other option under the terms of the program is investing at least $750,000 in real estate or business ventures.

5. Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment. The cheapest way to become a Vanuatu citizen by investment is to make a non-refundable contribution to the National Development Fund of at least $130,000. However, it is possible to obtain permanent residency in the country without making such a contribution: the applicant only needs to prove they have assets worth $350,000.

4. St Lucia Citizenship by Investment. Apart from the same options that are offered in Antigua and Barbuda with the minimum non-refundable contribution of $100,000, St Lucia also grants citizenship for buying government bonds for at least $300,000 or business investments of at least $1,000,000. Funds used to purchase real estate or government bonds can be returned in 5 years.

3. Dominica Citizenship by Investment. This Caribbean country offers almost exactly the same conditions for becoming a citizen by investment as Antigua and Barbuda. The difference is that the real estate can be resold after three years. However, if the buyer is also a participant in the program, the property still must be owned for five years.

2. Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment. To obtain the Antigua and Barbuda passport, an applicant makes a non-refundable contribution of $100,000 to the National Development Fund. Another option is to buy shares in state-approved real estate projects, such as apartments, villas, or hotels, for at least $200,000, which can be returned after five years.

1. Latvia Golden Visa. Applicants can obtain a residence permit in this EU country by investing just €50,000 in capital companies that employ over 50 people and have a budget of over €10,000,000 per year.

Old Town Riga, Latvia

The historic centre of Riga, the capital of Latvia, is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List

8 fastest Golden Visa programs

Country

Obtainment time

Vanuatu

1—2 months

Latvia

1—3 months

UAE

2+ months

Anguilla

3 months

Andorra

3 months

Italy

3+ months

Cyprus

3+ months

Dominica

3—6 months

8. Dominica Citizenship by Investment. The process of obtaining citizenship by investment in Dominica and other Caribbean countries largely depends on how quickly the Due Diligence is conducted. The shortest obtainment period possible is three months.

7. Cyprus Golden Visa. Obtaining permanent residency in Cyprus can take at least three months. Investors can choose between four options: purchasing residential or commercial property, shares of Cypriot companies, or units of investment funds. In every case, the minimum investment is €300,000.

6. Italy Golden Visa. Italy provides several paths towards residence permits for investors in at least three months’ time:

  • investing €250,000 in an innovative startup;

  • business investment of €500,000;

  • investing €1,000,000 in a philanthropic organisation;

  • purchasing government bonds for €2,000,000.

5. Andorra Permanent Residence by Investment. A one-year residence permit in this European country can be issued within 3 months of applying. The investor chooses between several options, including real estate purchases, government bonds, or interest-free deposits in a local bank. The minimum investment is €400,000.

4. Anguilla Golden Visa. Permanent residency in Anguilla can be obtained within 3 months. The minimum investment that qualifies the investor for a Golden Visa is a non-refundable contribution of $150,000.

3. UAE Residence Visa Program. The United Arab Emirates offers two options to obtain residency in the country by investment in two months’ time:

  • a 2-year residence permit for investing AED 750,000 ($204,200);

  • a 10-year Golden Visa for investing AED 2,000,000 ($545,000).

2. Latvia Golden Visa. This is not just the cheapest but also the fastest Golden Visa programme in the European Union. The process of receiving permanent residency for investment can take between 1 and 3 months.

1. Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment. The process of applying for citizenship in the small island country in Oceania can take only between 1 and 2 months. Moreover, if the applicant’s aim is only to get permanent residence in the country, the whole procedure could take just 5 days.

Efate Island, Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a small tropical island country in the South Pacific Ocean

Golden Visa programs ranked from easiest to hardest to obtain

There is plenty of overlap between the lists of the cheapest and fastest Golden Visas to obtain, which means these programs feature highly in our final ranking.

One of the key considerations is the ability to conduct the process remotely, without the need to ever visit the country. Some countries, including Vanuatu and the Caribbean states, offer such an opportunity.

Here is our list of Golden Visa programs ranked from easiest to hardest to obtain:

1. Vanuatu.

2. Latvia.

3. Dominica.

4. St Lucia.

5. Antigua and Barbuda.

6. Grenada.

7. Anguilla.

8. Brazil.

9. UAE.

10. Malta.

11. Cyprus.

12. St Kitts and Nevis.

13. Greece.

14. Italy.

15. Portugal.

16. Turkey.

17. Andorra.

18. Spain.

19. Luxembourg.

20. Monaco.

21. Netherlands.

22. Australia.

23. New Zealand.

24. United States.

6 benefits of the Golden Visa

1. Freedom of movement. Golden Visa holders can visit the country at any point in time without any stay limits. Additionally, countries offering citizenship by investment tend to have quite powerful passports, allowing their owners to travel visa-free to many other states.

2. Second home. Golden Visa programs offer investors and their families a chance to build a safe haven in another country in case of any possible instability at home.

3. Tax optimisation. Residents may enjoy special tax benefits or favourable tax regimes in some countries. To become a country’s tax resident, the investor normally must live there for at least 183 days a year.

4. A path to citizenship. Even if the program does not immediately grant citizenship, it could usually be obtained within 5—10 years of obtaining residency. In some countries, there’s even no obligation to be a tax resident, although other states have a minimum stay requirement and a local language test for prospective citizens to pass.

5. Business opportunities. In some cases, Golden Visa holders have a chance to conduct business in their new countries, especially if business investment is one of the options that could lead to receiving citizenship or residency by investment.

6. Education and healthcare. After obtaining residency or citizenship by investment, Golden Visa holders can have full access to the host country’s educational and healthcare systems.

4 disadvantages of the Golden Visa

1. High investment requirements. As the name suggests, the Golden Visa involves a significant investment. Moreover, investing in real estate, businesses, or investment funds can be risky and does not guarantee future returns.

2. Due Diligence. Each program has strict eligibility criteria, including financial requirements as well as proof of good health and a clean criminal record.

3. Stay requirement. Some Golden Visas come with the requirement to spend a certain number of days per year in the country, which could limit the investor’s freedom of movement.

4. Law changes. In some cases, immigration policies can change, affecting investors who have already obtained a Golden Visa. As a recent example, Portuguese authorities have decided to end the Non-Habitual Resident tax regime, meaning new residents in the country will no longer have tax incentives.

General requirements to get a Golden Visa

Golden Visa programs have different requirements for potential investors. However, certain rules are applied almost universally.

Age threshold. The main applicant for the Golden Visa should be 18 or older to be eligible for the program. Most programs allow investors to include their under-age children in the application.

Bank account in the host country. An active bank account serves two purposes. First, it facilitates the transfer of funds from the investor’s country to fulfil the investment condition. Second, it proves the solvency of the account owner.

Proof of income. To prove that the investor is able to meet any future obligations connected with such visas, they will need to provide documents proving regular and sustainable income equal to or above a certain level. They will also be required to provide proof of the legality of their income.

No criminal record. Host countries want prospective citizens or residents to have impeccable legal and financial reputations. Any past criminal prosecutions, even minor ones, could seriously damage the applicants’ chances of success.

Clean medical record. Applicants should prove that they have no serious illnesses that could pose a risk to public health.

Golden Visa investment options

Real estate. This is the most popular investment option among potential Golden Visa holders, which is why most of the programs contain it. Investors buy residential or commercial property or rent it for a specific period of time to be eligible for citizenship or residency. In the Caribbean countries, it could even be a share in a government-approved real estate project, like a hotel.

Investment funds. In Portugal, real estate no longer makes investors eligible for a Golden Visa, so purchasing investment fund units has become the most popular choice. Spain and Turkey also offer this option.

Donation. The Caribbean countries welcome charitable, non-refundable contributions to national development funds. In Italy, it is possible to obtain a Golden Visa through a donation to a philanthropic organisation, and in Portugal, through supporting the country’s arts and cultural heritage.

Business investment. Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and other states encourage foreign investors to help local businesses. The Netherlands specifically focuses its Golden Visa program on start-up investment.

Bank deposit. Greece, Spain, and Luxembourg are countries that allow Golden Visa applicants to open a deposit in a local bank to obtain residency permits.

Government bonds. Italy and Spain are among the countries with Golden Visas that offer the purchase of government bonds as an option. It’s described as the least risky one, but it also demands an investment of at least €2,000,000, significantly more than real estate and other options.

Golden Visa real estate investment comparison

Country

Program

Minimum investment

Validity

Antigua and Barbuda

Citizenship

$200,000

Permanent

Brazil

Residency

$140,000

4 years (renewable)

Cyprus

Residency

€300,000

5 years (renewable)

Dominica

Citizenship

$200,000

Permanent

Greece

Residency

€250,000

5 years (renewable)

Grenada

Citizenship

$220,000

Permanent

Malta

Residency

€150,000

5 years (renewable)

Spain

Residency

€500,000

2 to 3 years (renewable)

St Kitts and Nevis

Citizenship

$400,000

Permanent

St Lucia

Citizenship

$200,000

Permanent

Turkey

Citizenship

$400,000

Permanent

United Arab Emirates

Residency

$545,000

2 or 10 years

Easiest Golden Visa programs: key points

A Golden Visa is a way for investors to obtain residency in another country or a second citizenship by investment. It can serve several purposes, like increasing freedom of travel, opening new business opportunities, or creating a safe haven in case of an emergency.

Investment amount. Depending on conditions, it is possible to obtain residency by investing as little as €50,000, or even obtain citizenship with a minimum contribution of $100,000. The cheapest Golden Visas are offered by Latvia, Vanuatu, and a number of Caribbean states like Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica.

Timeline. Some countries also offer a fast-track procedure for receiving the Golden Visa. In some cases, it’s possible to complete the process in two months or even less. The fastest Golden Visa program is in Vanuatu, followed by Latvia, the UAE, Anguilla, Andorra, Italy, Cyprus, and Dominica.

complete guide9 Golden Visa programs explained in detail

Find out which countries offer the most popular Golden Visas, what the investment options are, the procedures, timeframes, and benefits.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the easiest Golden Visa to obtain?

    Based on several criteria, Vanuatu offers the simplest terms for obtaining citizenship by investment. After contributing at least $130,000 to the country’s economy, the whole process could take just a month.

  • Which country offers the quickest Golden Visa?

    Both Vanuatu and Latvia can approve a Golden Visa for an investor in as little as one month. In Vanuatu, it means obtaining citizenship for a contribution of at least $130,000. In Latvia, an investor can become a resident after contributing €50,000 to a local business.

  • Which is the cheapest citizenship by investment?

    Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St Lucia offer citizenship by investment for a minimum contribution of $100,000.

  • What is the easiest Golden Visa in Europe?

    The Latvia Golden Visa can be received in between 1 and 2 months for an investment of just €50,000.

  • How much to invest in a Golden Visa?

    The minimum investment varies between different programs. Depending on your choice, you can spend between €50,000 and almost €3,000,000. In most cases, however, the applicant is required to make a contribution somewhere between €100,000 and €300,000.

  • What are the benefits of a Golden Visa?

    Apart from the obvious benefit of creating a second home that can function as a safe haven, a Golden Visa can increase your freedom of travel, open new business or educational opportunities, and optimise your taxes.

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