The talk of the Golden Visa Program is a hot topic for property investors wanting to reside in Europe, or for European property developers who wish to sell to foreign investors. So what is a Golden Visa and what should you know before presenting one of these projects to your clients?
What is the Golden Visa Program?
The Golden Visa Program grants permanent residency visas to foreign investors for government approved investments in selected countries. Accepted investments include property, bank deposits or businesses that are likely to create employment opportunities within that country.
This program allows investors to reduce the citizenship wait, which would usually require a person residing in a country for a number of years before being eligible for permanent residency, and grants a visa immediately.
Instead an investor may wish to purchase a property or invest in a business without living there and after a selected duration (based on the countries requirements, usually 5 years), be granted a permanent residency visa and eventually the possibility of citizenship.
Which countries are part of the Golden Visa Program?
There are a number of countries that have Golden Visa Programs, each with different requirements. This includes Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Malta & Greece. However, some of these programs can lead to EU citizenship which gives investors the right to live and work throughout the entire European Union.
Why would this be of interest to investors?
Besides the desire to live abroad, there are a number of reasons foreign investors may wish to take part in the Golden Visa Program.
Fast tracked visa:
Investment into a country with a Golden Visa Program and shorten the often-long wait for permanent residency is a strong driver for investors into these countries. Giving residents and their dependants a second passport and easy travel around Europe could add to the appeal, if lifestyle is a factor.
Great investment opportunities:
Visas aside, Spain, Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal have some excellent opportunities for investment. With a cheaper entry point for real estate than Australia, the UK and North America, these investments are expected to bring a great return. With many having stable financial and political economies and clear taxation rules, these countries may be a safe place to invest with less risk and less money required upfront.
Investors may be looking for education providers outside their home country for their children and some of these programs can offer access to a wider selection of schools. EU permanent residency or citizenship would allow investors dependants to live and study anywhere within the Europe Union.
What is the process and the requirements?
The process and requirements varies from country to country however there are similarities such as the need to invest a minimum amount. For example, in Spain or Portugal you would be require to invest a minimum of €500,000. In most cases applicants must have committed to an investment before the visa applications can begin. For property, a contract of sale must be signed and completed before the application can go ahead.
Other factors such as criminal history, sufficient finance to cover the duration of the initial stay in that country, medical insurance and previous visa applications are all considered in the approval process.
While the benefits of The Golden Visa Program are abundantly clear, the intricacies of the process and requirements vary across each country and would be wise to complete sufficient research and consult with a professional before diving into any investment.