According to the news in CNN, “… with Covid-19 dramatically transforming our 2020, some elite families are also considering healthcare, pandemic responses and potential safe havens to ensure they have a backup plan for the future”. In this respect, the interest in the Golden Visa programs is increasing day by day.
In Portugal, 9,340 investors have obtained residency since 2012 up until now. In Greece, the number reached 7,903 between 2013 and September 2020. This is what the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and Enterprise Greece declared.
So, what do these programs offer? Let’s take a closer look at them.
Golden Visa programs are basically residency by investment programs. Portugal, Greece, and Spain offer these programs. Similarly, countries like Malta and St. Kitts & Nevis offer direct citizenship by investment programs. In the case of the latter, you’ll get citizenship more quickly, compared to the residency by investment programs.
Each country offers different types of investment. However, we can group most of them under some categories. These include investment through:
- Property purchase
- Certain amounts of capital transfers to the related country
- Granting some amounts to the related institutions/bonds/funds in the country, and so on.
The minimum investment amount depends on the country you choose. To give you an idea, however, you can check the list below:
- Portugal Golden Visa: €280,000
- Greece Golden Visa: € 250,000
- Spain Golden Visa: €500,000
- Malta Individual Investor Program (IIP): €800,000 + purchase of a property or 5 years of a lease agreement
- St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment: $150,000
- Dominica Citizenship by Investment: $100,000.
In general, you can travel to more than 150 countries through these programs. Exact numbers differ according to each country. For Portugal, it is 186 countries, and for Greece, the number is 184. It is 187, 184, 154, and 139 for Spain, Malta, St Kitts, and Dominica respectively.
Note that you need to obtain citizenship first, to benefit from the visa-free travel right.
One of the best parts of these programs is that as an investor, you can include your dependent family members.
While applying for Portugal Golden Visa, you can include your spouse, parents over 65, and children under the age of 18. If the children are single, financially dependent on you, or studying, they can also benefit from the visa regardless of their age.
Greece Golden Visa offers an extended family inclusion option. Along with your spouse and children aged under 21, you can also include your parents and parents-in-law as well.
As to Malta, family inclusion means parents of the main applicant and spouse, minor children, unmarried dependent adult children under 27.
Golden Visa programs and citizenship by investment programs, in general, require very low stay requirements. For Portugal Golden Visa, it is sufficient to stay for seven days on average per year. At the end of five years, you can apply for citizenship and permanent residency as well.
On the other hand, Greece, Malta, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica do not require you to stay in the country at all. So, it will be sufficient to make your investment and live wherever you wish.
Spain also requires only one entrance to the country per year.
- It is one of the best programs leading EU citizenship. Through obtaining EU citizenship, you will have the right to live, work, and study in any EU country you wish.
- It is more affordable than most other citizenship programs
- Also, you can liquidate your investment when you become a permanent resident or a Portuguese citizen.
- Through the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) schedule, you can be exempt from taxation on most of your foreign income.
- Greece Golden Visa is the most affordable EU residency program
- The extended family option is a plus
- The recent tax regulation for foreign retirees is also another incentive for pensioners. Through shifting tax residency to Greece, they’ll be taxed only 7% on all of their foreign income for ten years.
- As an EU country, Spain also offers residency in Europe.
- Spain is also known as a great place to retire, through many pension schemes to choose from.
- Malta offers direct EU citizenship, without any residence requirement
- It also does not put any language requirement for citizenship
- There is no return on investment-oriented program. For example, if you buy real estate, you cannot rent it out.
- It offers a fast track citizenship. You can receive your passport within four months. Through the accelerated process, you can even get it within 60 days
- It is very affordable, the minimum investment amount being only $150,000
- Note that it brings only visa-free travel, not the right to live in the EU.
- Like St Kitts & Nevis, Dominica is also a Caribbean country that offers a very low investment requirement
- You can get citizenship within around three months. Following this, you’ll have a right to visa-free travel to 139 countries.