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April 1, 2024
8 min

European Golden Visas: Your Gateway to EU Residency

Brittany Collins

Wealthy individuals worldwide increasingly focus on an attractive opportunity — the European Golden Visa program. Various popular destinations in Europe offer them as gateways to residency and a path to citizenship.

Under the Golden Visa program, applicants gain a right to become European residents in 4—6 months. The main requirement is to invest.

In this article, we will explore all the Golden Visa Programs existing in the Schengen states.

European Golden Visas: Your Gateway to EU Residency

European Golden Visas: Your Gateway to EU Residency

What Is a Golden Visa

The European Golden Visa is a temporary residence permit, an investment program that offers affluent individuals the opportunity to secure residency in some of Europe’s most desirable locations. By making substantial financial investments in these EU countries, you gain rights such as living and working there and visa-free travel within the Schengen Zone.

Different EU countries have varying requirements for obtaining their golden visas. In general terms, required investments typically involve capital transfer or property purchase.

10 Benefits of Golden Visa

While the specifics of each country’s program can differ, the overarching benefits that attract individuals to these programs are often similar.

  1. Residency. The primary benefit is the acquisition of legal residency. It can eventually provide a path to naturalization in some countries.

  2. Visa-free travel. With a Golden Visa of the Schengen country you’re allowed to enter the whole Schengen Area freely and anytime.

  3. Safety and security. These programs can be a safety net for individuals from politically unstable or economically uncertain regions, providing an alternative place of residence or refuge in times of need.

  4. Investment opportunities. The required investments for Golden Visa programs often lead to returns, either through real estate appreciation, interest, dividends, or economic growth.

  5. Tax benefits. Some countries with Golden Visa programs have attractive tax regimes, especially for foreign investors or non-resident individuals. It can lead to significant tax optimization opportunities.

  6. Access to quality services. Residency often provides access to the host country’s healthcare system, which might be higher quality or more affordable than in the investor’s home country. Access to better or more diverse educational opportunities for investors and their families, including renowned schools and universities.

  7. Lifestyle and environment. Golden Visa programs can offer a higher quality of life through a more favorable climate, cultural opportunities, or a more relaxed pace of life.

  8. Family reunification. Most programs allow the primary applicant to include immediate family members, such as spouses, dependent children, and sometimes even parents. It facilitates family relocation and reunification in the new country.

  9. Networking. Such programs often introduce investors to a global community of like-minded individuals, leading to business, social, and cultural networking opportunities.

  10. Retirement planning. Some individuals view Golden Visa programs as a retirement strategy, providing them with a suitable location to retire with a good quality of life.

While Golden Visa programs offer numerous advantages, potential applicants should be aware of the costs, requirements, and other considerations. Thorough Due Diligence and consultation with professionals are crucial before embarking on such a significant commitment.

Schengen Golden Visa

Some Golden Visa programs offer a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship after living in a country for 5—7 years

What Is a Schengen Area and which Сountries have Golden Visa

The Schengen Area comprises 27 European countries that have abolished passports and other types of border control at their mutual borders.

The Golden Visa program typically refers to residency by investment programs some countries offer. These programs provide residency rights and, in some cases, a path to citizenship to foreign nationals in exchange for significant financial investments.

Not all Schengen countries have such programs, but several do. Each country has tailored its program strategically to attract foreign investors while providing them substantial perks such as living rights within host nations or visa-free travel across the Schengen Zone.

Comparison of Golden Visa Programs Offered by the Schengen Countries

Country

Minimum investment

Obtainment period

Greece

€250,000+

2—6 months

Italy

€250,000+

3+ months

Latvia

€50,000+

1—3 months

Luxembourg

€500,000+

4—6 months

Malta

€150,000+

2—4 months

Netherlands

€1,250,000+

1—2 months

Portugal

€250,000+

8—10 months

Spain

€500,000+

2—3 months

Portugal Residency by Investment

Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular programs in Europe. Investors can obtain residency by investing in a business, scientific research or cultural heritage.

Research and development. Investment of at least €500,000 in research activities conducted by accredited institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system.

Cultural heritage. Another option is to invest €250,000 to support artistic production or maintain Portuguese cultural heritage.

Businesses. An investment of at least €500,000 in existing Portuguese businesses with a demonstrated commitment to generating at least 5 jobs or making capital investments.

Units of investment funds. The minimum investment is €500,000 in units with the maturity date of at least 5 years. 60% of the units’ cost must be contributed to businesses located in Portugal.

Spain Residence by Investment Options

Applicants for a Spanish Golden Visa invest in real estate or financial assets.

Real estate. A minimum investment of €500,000 in Spanish real estate. It can be one or multiple properties, but the total value should meet or exceed the minimum requirement.

Financial assets. A minimum investment of €1,000,000 in Spanish company shares or bank deposits. Another option is an investment of €2,000,000 in government bonds.

Italy Investor Visa Investment Options

Italy grants its Golden Visa to individuals who invest in an Italian company, bonds, securities, or philanthropic organization.

Capital investment in an Italian company. A minimum investment of €500,000 in an Italian limited company or €250,000 in an innovative Italian startup company. The investment should be maintained for a minimum duration of 5 years.

Investment in bonds or government securities. An investment of at least €500,000 in bonds issued by the Italian government, to be held for at least 5 years.

Philanthropic donations. Donation of at least €1,000,000 to support projects in culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, or restoration of cultural and architectural assets.

Greece Residency by Investment Options

Greece residency by investment program has 6 options.

Real estate. The most popular route involves buying property valued at €500,000 or more. It can be one or multiple properties, and both residential and commercial real estate qualify.

Lease and time-sharing agreements for a minimum duration of 10 years for hotel accommodations or furnished tourist residences also qualify if the minimum investment is €250,000.

If a property valued at €250,000+ is inherited or received as a gift, a person can also apply for Greek residency by investment.

Purchase of land. Besides buying real estate, the investor can purchase a land plot for construction or agriculture. The minimum investment is €250,000.

Timeshare for 10 years. The minimum sum is €250,000.

Bank deposit or purchase of securities. A term deposit of at least €400,000 in a Greek credit institution with a minimum duration of one year and a fixed order for the renewal. Another way is to purchase securities with a value of at least €400,000 from a credit institution operating in Greece.

Malta Permanent Residency Programme Investment Options

Applicants for the Malta Permanent Residency Programme are required to either purchase a property in Malta or lease a property.

Purchase. The minimum value for properties in the South of Malta or Gozo is €300,000, and €350,000 for properties in the rest of Malta.

Lease. Minimum annual rent of €10,000 (for properties in the South of Malta or Gozo) or €12,000 (for properties in the rest of Malta).

The property cannot be sublet or shared and must be retained for a minimum duration specified by the program.

They also must make a non-refundable financial contribution. The exact amount can vary, but as of the last update, it was set at €58,000 if opting to rent a property or €28,000 if purchasing a property.

Another requirement is paying €2,000 to the charitable non-government organization.

Luxembourg Investor Visa Investment Options

To qualify for the Luxembourg Golden Visa, the applicant must make a significant investment in a business or investment fund or make a secured deposit.

Investment in existing Luxembourg-based businesses. A direct investment of at least €500,000+ in an existing Luxembourg business committed to sustaining the investment for at least 5 years.

Investment in a new company. An investment of at least €500,000+ in a new enterprise with commercial, craft, or industrial activities in Luxembourg, creating at least five positions within the company within three years.

Investment in an approved investment fund. Investing a minimum of €3,000,000+ in a management and investment structure previously established in Luxembourg.

Secured deposit. A deposit of at least €20,000,000+ in a Luxembourg-based financial institution, with a commitment to retain it for at least five years.

Applicants must also demonstrate ties to Luxembourg and meet other specific conditions. The initial residence permit is valid for three years and can be renewed under specific conditions.

Latvia Residence by Investment Options

Latvia provides a residency program for those who invest in real estate, government bonds, or in the equity of capital companies.

Real estate. The minimum required investment is €250,000. The investor also must pay a one-time government fee — 5% of the property value.

Investment in real estate property is one of the most popular routes to obtaining residency.

Bank deposits in a Latvian bank. A specified minimum amount of €280,000 must be maintained for five years. The one-time government fee, in this case, is €25,000.

Government bonds. The bonds must be special-purpose and interest-free. It is also required to pay a one-time government fee of €38,000.

Business investment. Investing €50,000+ in a Latvian company can also lead to residency if it pays at least €40,000 in taxes. The investor must make a one-time government contribution of €10,000.

Netherlands Investor Visa Investment Options

The minimum investment for the Netherlands Golden Visa is €1,250,000. There are three options.

Direct investment in a Dutch Company. You can make a direct investment in an existing or new Dutch company. This company must not be purely an investment-holding entity. The investment should contribute to the company’s growth, resulting in benefits such as job creation, innovation, or the introduction of a unique product/service in the Dutch market.

If investing in a startup, it should be qualified as "innovative" according to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) criteria. It might entail the startup developing new products, processes, or services, employing novel technology, or being part of an official Dutch incubator program.

Investment in a contractual partnership. The investor can participate as an investing partner in a partnership agreement with existing Dutch companies. As with direct investment, the focus is on the tangible benefits the investment brings to the Dutch economy.

Investment in a participation fund. The investor can contribute to a designated fund that, in turn, invests in Dutch businesses. These funds have mandates to invest in specific sectors or types of companies that benefit the Dutch economy. Ensuring the fund is approved and recognized for the Investor Visa program’s purposes is crucial.

Investment to a fund that is, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, within SEED generation. It often involves providing the necessary funds to help kickstart new ventures in these sectors, promoting innovation and technology-driven growth.

The Process of Obtaining a Golden Visa

Pursuing a European golden visa is an intricate process, comprising several stages from initial inquiries to the ultimate receipt of your residence permit or passport. Comprehending each phase is crucial, as missteps could lead to setbacks or even denial.

The process of obtaining a Golden Visa, or a residency/citizenship by investment, varies depending on the specific country and its regulations. However, there is a general procedure that most of these programs follow.

1

Research & selection

Begin by identifying which country’s program aligns with your goals: lifestyle, business opportunities, travel freedom, or other considerations.

Each country has different investment options, such as real estate purchases, business investments, or government bonds. Understand the financial commitments, Due Diligence checks, and other prerequisites.

2

Prepare & submit an application

Gather necessary documentation. The list typically includes personal identification, proof of source of funds, health insurance, police clearance certificates, and other relevant documents.

Depending on the program, you might need to make the investment before, during, or after the initial application. For instance, some countries require a real estate purchase agreement or deposit as proof of commitment.

3

Due Diligence & background checks

After submitting your application, the country’s authorities will conduct thorough background checks. This process ensures applicants have no criminal records, are not a threat to national security, and have genuinely acquired their investment funds.

4

Application approval

The country will approve the application once the Due Diligence process is complete and everything is in order. The duration varies by country — some might take a few months, while others could take over a year.

5

Complete investment & fulfill other requirements

If you still need to, complete the necessary investment, whether finalizing a property purchase, depositing funds into a specific project, or another qualifying investment.

Some countries might have additional requirements, like visiting the country to give biometrics or attending an interview.

6

Obtain residency

Once all requirements are met, the country will grant the Golden Visa, typically a residency permit. Collect your residency card either in person or through an authorized representative.

7

Maintain investment & comply with requirements

Most Golden Visa programs stipulate maintaining the investment for a certain period. They might have other requirements, like spending minimum time in the country each year.

Ensure you comply with all conditions to avoid revocation of your residency or other legal consequences.

Key Takeaways

A Golden Visa equals a residence permit and it can be obtained by investment.

The benefits of a Golden Visa are the acquisition of legal residency, visa-free travel, safety and security, investment opportunities, tax optimisation, access to quality services, and family reunification.

Schengen countries with Golden Visa programs are Portugal, Spain, Greece, Malta, Luxembourg, Latvia, Netherlands and Italy. Each of them has their own requirements and investment options.

The process of obtaining residency by investment usually takes up to 1 year. To apply for a residence permit one must collect documents, fill out an application form, pay fees, undergo background checks, make an investment and wait for approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are the Benefits of the Golden Visa?

    The Golden Visa offers multiple advantages such as residency, visa-free travel within the Schengen Zone, and potential access to EU citizenship. It also provides investment opportunities in prime European markets.

  • What Is the Disadvantage of the Golden Visa?

    The major downside can be the substantial financial commitment required. Other challenges include possible long processing times, stringent stay requirements in some countries, and potential tax implications depending on your residency status.

  • Does the Golden Visa Give You EU Citizenship?

    A Golden Visa doesn’t give EU citizenship. However, it is possible to apply for an EU passport by naturalization after residing in a country with temporary and then permanent residence permit for several years.

  • Are Golden Visas Worth It?

    If you value mobility, stability, and access to European markets for business or personal reasons, then a Golden Visa could be a worthwhile investment. However, each individual should assess their unique circumstances before proceeding.

  • Which EU Country Has the Cheapest Golden Visa Program?

    Latvian Golden Visa is the most affordable among all the EU Golden Visa Programs. The minimum investment is €50,000, which must be contributed to a Latvian company.

    The second cheapest program is Malta Permanent Residency Programme. Under it, the minimum investment is €150,000.

  • What Is the Best Golden Visa in Europe?

    One of the best and one of the most popular Golden Visas is Portuguese Visa. It can be obtained by investing in research and development projects or businesses.

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