Golden Visa Options
What is a “Golden Visa”?
Golden visas is a term that broadly applies to European residency by investment visas. These visas tend to reduce some of the typical requirements of a regular visa such as the ability to speak the local language, having a job offer or starting a business. In return the migrant would make an investment and/or donation to that country in specific sectors that are approved under the visa scheme. Golden Visas should not be confused with Citizenship by Investment programs which grant an instant citizenship, for completeness we will also discuss these options.
What are the benefits of a “Golden Visa”?
The obvious benefit of a golden visa is the right for the migrant and their family to reside in that country legally with in most cases a route towards citizenship of that country.
Accessing EU schools and healthcare is a big driver for migrant families as well as the security and rule of law that the EU provides.
In most cases having residence in an EU country gives the Golden visa holder right of travel to countries within the EU and in some cases visa free travel to countries outside the EU. It is also clear that holding residency from an EU country gives a migrant far greater legitimacy when applying for visas for other countries. For example a Jordanian national whom holds residency in Portugal is far more likely to obtain a US or UK visit visa, compared to the same applicant without the EU residency.
Golden visas can usually be kept indefinitely so long as the migrant complies with the conditions of the program and most golden visas have a route to nationality, after which the investment made can be returned to the migrant and they then have the full rights and protections of that specific EU country
What are the “Golden visa”options?
UK – Tier 1 Investor Visa
The Tier 1 Investor visa gives a migrant and their family the right to live, work, study or do business in the UK in return for a minimum investment of £2 million in to a UK company. All of the investment can be sold after the migrant has applied for permanent residence.
The route to permanent residence is between 2-5 years depending on how much money is invested by the migrant. The route to a passport is 5-6 years depending on how much money is invested.
Initial requirements are that the migrant has access to the investment funds that have been derived from lawful means, evidence of no-criminal records or other concerns of their character. As well as the opening of a UK investment account.
The initial visa is issued for 3 years and can be extended for a further 2 years each time until the migrant is able to apply for permanent residence.
In order to apply for permanent residence the migrant must show that he/she maintained their investment, spent no more than 6 months outside the UK in each 12 month period, passed a basic English and knowledge of life in the UK test.
Key benefits of the UK golden visa is right of access to the UK which no other Golden visa can offer as although the UK is currently in the EU, it is not part of the Schengen Zone which allows for travel EU residence. Spouses and Children up to the age of 18 can be included and have the full right to work and study.
Portugal – Golden Property Investment Visa
Portugal launched its Golden visa program in 2012 as a response to its struggling housing market and it remains to this day one of the most popular Golden visa programs in the EU, if not the world.
The visa gives a migrant and their family the right to live, work, study or run a business in Portugal in return for an investment in to residential property for a minimum amount of €500,000. (these is also the possibility of using a reduced rate of €350,000 for properties in need to renovation). The full investment can be sold after the migrant applies for permanent residence.
The route to permanent residence is 5 years. The route to nationality is 6 years.
Initial requirements are that the applicant has purchased a qualifying property with funds that have been derived from legal means, that the applicant is clear of any criminal record or concerns of their background as well as adequate medical insurance.
The initial visa is issued for 1 year which can then be extended for 2 years each time until the migrant is ready to apply for permanent residence
In order to qualify for permanent residence the migrant must show that he/she maintained their investment for the minimum 5 year period. That they have spent at least 2 weeks in Portugal each year. In order to obtain Citizenship a basic language test is also required including evidence of connections to the country.
Key benefits of the program are the right to live, work and study in Portugal as well as travel rights to all other countries inside the EU Schengen Zone. Upon obtaining Citizenship the migrant and their family is able to live, work or study in any EU country. Spouses and Children can be included as well as children over the age of 18 whom are in full time education or parents over the age of 66 can also be included.
Spain – Golden Property investment visa
Spain launched its program in 2013 as a copy of the Portugal program, as such the visa is very similar with some key differences.
The visa gives migrants and their family the right to live, work or study in Spain in return for an investment in residential property for the minimum value of €500,000. The full investment may be sold after the migrant applies for permanent residence.
The route to permanent residence is 5 years and the route to nationality is around 10 years.
Initial requirements are similar to Portugal in that the applicant has obtained a deed of sale and has legally obtained funds ready for the transfer. The applicant must be clear of any criminal record or concerns of their background as well as adequate medical insurance.
Each visa is issued for a period of 2 years and can be renewed indefinitely.
In order to qualify for permanent residence the migrant must have maintained their investment and resided in the country for 6 months each year for a minimum of 5 years. To apply for citizenship the applicant must show residence during the whole 10 year period as well as passing a language test.
Key benefits of the program are the right to live, work and study in Spain as well as travel rights to the EU Schengen Zone. Upon obtaining Citizenship the migrant and their family is able to live, work or study in any EU country. Spouses can be included as well as children and parents of any age providing they are dependent.
Cyprus – Citizenship By Investment or Residency By Investment
Cyprus has two options, one being a golden visa options that grants residency and the other being one of only two Citizenship by investment programs in the EU which grant instant citizenship to a migrant, meaning they and their family are EU citizens and can therefore live, work or study anywhere in the UK, together with all the travel rights of an EU passport.
The Citizenship Program
The Cyprus Citizenship program grants EU nationality to a migrant and their family in return for an investment of €2 million in to residential property together with a donation of €150,000 to local development funds. The investment may be sold after a period of 5 years providing the migrant keeps a property at the value of of €500,000 in their name thereafter.
The route to Citizenship is instant, meaning as soon as the application is processed they are able to obtain their EU passport. However as noted above the investment must be held for a period of 5 years thereafter.
Initial requirements are that the migrant has obtained a deed of sale together with evidence of lawfully obtained funds, the migrant must also have a clear criminal background and has obtained an Schengen visa. The Migrant will also be required to show that they have the funds available to make the donation of €150,000 upon a successful application.
Key benefits are that the migrant and their family obtain instant EU citizenship, meaning they are able to live, work, study or run business in any EU country. Holding an EU passport will also given them visa-free travel rights to over 145 countries. Spouses and Children up to the age of 28 can be included. Parents can also be included for an additional investment amount of €500,000. The Cyprus program is the most comprehensive and quickest route to EU nationality available.
The Permanent Residence Program
As an alternative Cyprus also has a residency by investment program that allows a migrant and their family right to live, work or study in Cyprus in return for an investment in to residential property for the minimum value of €300,000.
As this program grants permanent residence upon approval migrants must maintain their investment at all times, however there is a possibility to sell the investment if they qualify for Cypriot nationality after a minimum period of 7 years.
Key benefits are that the migrant and their family can live, work or study in country as well as travel rights to the Schengen Zone. Spouses and children may be included also.
Malta – Citizenship By Investment or Residency By Investment
Similar to Cyprus, Malta also has two options for migrants, one being a Citizenship by Investment program with the other being more of a Golden visa known as the residency by investment program.
Citizenship by investment
Malta’s citizenship by investment program is the only other EU citizenship program together with Cyprus, Although there are some similarities between the two they are in reality drastically different both in terms of how much money the migrant can recover and how long it takes for the migrant and their family to obtain the passport in their hand.
As a basic summary the Malta program grants EU citizenship to a migrant and their family in return for a donation together with an economic investment. Firstly there is the donation which is a minimum of €650,000 for 1 person and increases with each dependent included increasing the amount by €25,000. In addition to the donation the migrant must also purchase a government bond for a value of €150,000 and purchase a property of €350,000. The property and bond may be sold after a period of 5 years.
The citizenship is issued after the migrant has been initially granted permanent residence and held this for 1 year. After which the migrant and their family have the full rights of an EU national.
Initial requirements are that the migrant has evidence of the required funds which have been derived from legal sources, together with evidence of a clean criminal record and purchase of comprehensive medical insurance.
Key benefits are that once the nationality is granted the migrant and their family has the full rights of an EU national, including the right to live, work, study or run a business anywhere in the EU. The migrant will also have the extended travel rights of over 145 countries. Spouses, Children up to the age of 26 and parents may be included.
Residency by Investment visa
The Malta Citizenship program gives a migrants and their family the right to live, work or study in Malta in return for an investment on to Maltese Government bond or in to a Maltese company for a minimum value of €250,000. a donation of €30,000 must also be made to a state fund as well as the migrant either purchasing or renting a property on the island.
The program grants the migrant permanent residence but the investment amount may be sold after a period of 5 years. There is however no route to Citizenship on this program but migrants would have travel rights to Schengen countries such as the other programs mentioned above
Key benefits of this program are a simple and quick route to EU residency that would not need to be renewed. Spouses and children may be included.
Get in touch to speak with us about all the Golden Visa options and what would be best for you and your family.
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