Golden Visas Explained

Are you a non-European citizen seeking to relocate to Europe? Or maybe you are looking to get a second citizenship in the Caribbean? If that is the case, you are probably looking at different immigration options. Golden visas are the ultimate investor migration visas, allowing investors and their families to get residency in some of the world’s best countries. This guide will present you with all the useful information you need to know about golden visas. 

What are Golden Visas?

Golden visas are an immigration scheme offering investors and their families the opportunity to become residents of a specific country in exchange for a substantial economic investment. In Europe, several countries offer this visa option to non-European citizens such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece. Portugal, for example, has one of the world’s most successful Golden Visa programs, and since 2012, 10,015 investors and 15,431 family members have benefited from the Portugal Golden Visa.

These immigration schemes are very successful and offer several investment routes at different prices. Whether you are looking to invest in real estate, government bonds, new businesses, or private equity funds among others, there are plenty of options available for your budget.

Golden visa Europe benefits

Invest in a country’s economy and get residency Invest in a country’s economy and get residency
Live, work and study in a stable and safe country Live, work and study in a stable and safe country
High quality of life High quality of life
Several investment routes Several investment routes
Visa-free travel in the Schengen area Visa-free travel in the Schengen area
All the family is eligible All the family is eligible

Golden Visa Europe requirements

Golden visa requirements vary from country to country, however, in most cases applicants will need to:

  • Be either non-EU, non-Swiss, or non-EEA.
  • Make the required investment and maintain it for the minimum amount of time.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Spend a minimum number of days in the country

Golden Visa Residency in Europe

Portugal Golden Visa

Famous for its high-quality of life, stunning beaches, and sunny weather, Portugal has been elected the best country to live in for expats in 2020. Launched in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa — a five-year residency-by-investment program — has been offering non-EU investors and their families Portuguese residency in exchange for an investment of at least €280,000. With the investment kept for at least five years, the investor and his family even have the opportunity to become permanent residents or citizens. 

Benefits of Portugal Golden Visa

With a straightforward application process done via Portugal’s border agency SEF, a minimum stay requirement, and the option to become a non-habitual resident and pay little to no tax for ten years, the Portugal Golden Visa has been a complete success — in September 2020 alone, a total of 145 family members were rewarded with residence permits.

Portugal Golden Visa multiple investment options

Below are some of the most popular investment routes available:

  • Portugal Golden Visa real estate investment of €500K in real estate- (Reduced to €400K if located in a low-density area)
  • Portugal Golden Visa €350K real estate investment in a rehabilitation project (reduced to €280K if located in a low-density area)
  • €350K investment in an existing Portuguese business. Must incorporate or increase the share capital and create at least five  full-time permanent jobs for at least three years

Spain Golden Visa

Gifted with a rich culture, diverse landscapes, and a delicious cuisine, Spain is one of Europe’s best countries to live in. Following Portugal’s lead, in 2013 it started its very own Spain Golden Visa Program. Spanish residency is granted to investors and their families in exchange for an investment in Spain’s economy of at least €500,000. After acquiring a Spain Golden Visa, an initial residency card will be granted for one year (or two years if you visit Spain). The residency can then be renewed every five years. You can then apply for permanent residency provided you have lived in Spain for five years.

Benefits of the Spain Golden Visa

The Spain Golden Visa program does not impose a minimum period of residence, its processing time is fast and the temporary resident permit is easy to renew. In addition, nationals from former Spanish colonies with a Spain Golden Visa can apply for Spanish citizenship in two short years (in comparison to ten years for normal applicants).

Spain Golden Visa investment routes

  • Purchase real estate with a minimum value of €500,000.
  • Issue a bank deposit of at least €1,000,000.
  • Invest €1,000,000 in shares of Spanish businesses.
  • Contribute €2,000,000 in government bonds.
  • Start a business in Spain that generates employment, contributes to technological and/or scientific innovation, or has a strong socio-economic impact.

Greece Golden Visa

If you enjoy iconically gorgeous beaches, Mediterranean cuisine, and endless sunshine, then consider becoming a Greek resident. Greece’s Golden Visa Program offers just that and more, welcoming non-EU expats to invest in the nation. In return, enjoy EU residency, visa-free travel within the European Union, and prime living conditions.

Benefits

There’s a reason why investors are lining up to apply for the golden visa scheme in Greece. The program has a fast application processing time of two months, with the added advantage of becoming a Greek citizen after seven years of residence. With no stay requirements, and the opportunity to bring your whole family in the application, the Greece program offers the golden combo of living in a European country with attractive investment opportunities. 

Investment Options

By far, the most popular route to Greek residency is to buy a property in Greece that’s worth at least €250,000. Most investors opt for this because you can rent out your property and earn back some of your initial investment, as well as it being the cheapest investment option. Alternatively, invest in government bonds, make a capital contribution in a fund, or invest in corporate bonds or shares to obtain residency.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Golden Visa Greece guide for more information.

Ireland Golden Visa

Ireland; a country of vast landscapes, excellent beer, world-leading education institutions, and endless business opportunities. Ireland is the only English-speaking country offering the Golden Visa in Europe, which is why high-net-worthy investors are particularly interested in the scheme. For a minimum investment of €500,000, Irish residency is yours within four months. 

Benefits

The Irish Golden Visa scheme is particularly popular among entrepreneurs and international investors seeking the perfect balance between business and pleasure. You can bring your whole family with you, and your children can easily enroll in leading universities. To top it off, the quality of life in Ireland is excellent, and an Irish passport can be in your hands in as little as six years.

Investment Options

Applicants can pick from a diverse range of options. Choose to invest in an existing enterprise or business in Ireland, or go for the lower-risk option of investing in government-sanctioned investment funds. If you’re feeling particularly charitable, make a charitable donation to one of Ireland’s causes, or alternatively, invest in  Real Estate Investment Trusts. 

For more information, consult our ultimate guide to the Ireland Golden Visa.

United States Golden Visa

The United States has two visa programs, the EB5 and E2, that enable investors to receive legal residency in the United States. What’s more, the main applicant’s family qualify for the same benefits, enabling the family to fully relocate to the United States.

Benefits

There are many benefits to consider, including the possibility of earning a Green Card permit with full work privileges, as well as stable return rates on the investment. You can also bring your whole family with you, and your children have access to the United States’ world-class Universities. The EB5 Visa allows for US citizenship after a set number of years, while the E2 Visa scheme is exclusively for investors looking to work in the states and set up shop there.

Investment options

Applicants have a variety of investment options on the table. You can make a capital investment in an enterprise, start a business, or invest in a bona fida enterprise. For the E2 visa, the general min.investment starts from $100,000. Meanwhile, for the EB5,  the investment threshold starts from $900,000.

For more information consult the following guides:

EB5 Visa US Permanent Resident

E2 Visa US

Other Golden Visa Citizenship programs

Antigua and Barbuda Golden Visa

Since 2012, Antigua and Barbuda offer the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program. This unique scheme offers investors an Antigua and Barbuda passport in exchange for making a charitable contribution, investing in real estate, or establishing a business in the country. Through this program, the whole family can get an Antigua and Barbuda passport in five months for a minimum investment of $100,000.

Dominica Golden Visa

The Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program is a popular scheme due to its fast processing time and flexible requirements. In just three to four months, investors can obtain a Dominica passport in exchange for an investment of at least $100,000. Investments can be made in either the Dominica Diversification Fund or in pre-approved real estate. Enjoy a lifelong stay in the Caribbean, along with tax-free incentives by getting Dominica citizenship.

Click here to learn more about the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program.

St. Kitts and Nevis Golden Visa

The luxurious St. Kitts and Nevis launched its very own St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, granting investors and their families a St Kitts and Nevis passport in exchange for an investment of at least $150,000. There are two investment options: invest in the Sustainable Growth Fund, or in real estate. With the St Kitts and Nevis passport enjoy traveling visa-free in Europe’s Schengen zone, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, and more with a Saint Kitts and Nevis passport.

Click here to learn more about the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program.

St. Lucia Golden Visa

The St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program grants investors and their family St. Lucia citizenship in exchange for an investment of at least $100,000. With multiple investment routes, no residency requirements and a fast processing time, this citizenship by investment scheme is one of the best and most successful in the Caribbean. Investors can either choose to invest in: the National Economic Fund, real estate, enterprises, or in government bonds. 

Grenada Golden Visa

In 2013, the beautiful Grenada island launched its Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program, giving qualifying individuals and their families the opportunity to get the Grenada passport in exchange for an investment in the country’s economy of at least $150,000. The investment options are: invest in the National Transformation Fund or in real estate.

Click here to learn more about the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program.

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Frequently asked questions about golden visas

What are golden visas?

Golden visas are an immigration and investment scheme, allowing investors and their families to get residency in a specific country in exchange for an economic investment.

What golden visas are available in Europe?

Some of the best golden visa programs in Europe are the Golden Visa Portugal, Golden Visa Spain, Golden Visa Malta and Golden Visa Cyprus.

Are golden visas expensive?

The cost of obtaining golden visas vary from country to country. In Portugal for example the Golden Visa’s investment is worth at least €280,000, while in Spain the Golden Visa price starts at €500,000.

What is the best Golden Visa Program in Europe?

The best Golden Visa Program in Europe is the Portugal Golden Visa. Not only is Portugal a fantastic place to live in, but the program offers several affordable investment routes, grants you residency rights rapidly, and after five years you can even get Portuguese citizenship.