Are you a non-European citizen seeking to relocate to Europe? Or perhaps 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 residency by investment schemes, allowing foreign investors and their families to get permanent residence status in some of the world’s best countries. This guide will present you with all the useful information you need to know about these programs.
- What are Golden Visas?
- Golden Visa Program Benefits
- Golden Visa Program Requirements
- Golden Visas in Europe
- Other Golden Visas
Golden Visas are immigration investment programs 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-EU nationals, such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece.
Portugal, for example, has one of the world’s most successful Golden Visa schemes, with the Portugal Golden Visa statistics skyrocketing in recent years. Since 2012, 10,748 investors and 17,752 family members have benefited from the country’s program.
These immigration investment programs are very successful, and offer non-EU/EEA nationals and their family members several investment routes at different prices. Whether you are looking to invest in real estate property, government bonds, new businesses, or private equity funds, there are plenty of options available for your budget and liking.
The requirements for these immigration programs vary from country to country, however, in most cases applicants will need to:
- Be either non-EU, non-Swiss, or non-EEA citizens
- Make the required investment and maintain it for a specified amount of time
- Have a clean criminal record
- Spend a minimum number of days in the country, as per its requirements
Famous for its high-quality of life, stunning beaches, diverse cuisine, and sunny weather, Portugal has been elected the best country to live in for expats in 2020; making its program one of the most sought after across Europe.
The Portuguese Golden Visa Program is a five-year residency by investment scheme that has been offering non-EU/EEA investors and their family Portuguese residency since its launch in 2012, all in exchange for a qualifying real estate investment of at least €280,000.
After maintaining their real estate investment for a period of at least five years, foreign investors and their families become eligible for permanent residency in Portugal, and can later acquire citizenship by naturalization, provided they pass a few tests assessing their basic language proficiency, and knowledge about the country’s history and culture.
Portugal Golden Visa Benefits
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 Portuguese residence permits. The high success and high demand on the program led the Portuguese government to implement Portugal Golden Visa changes on January 1, 2022 to further diversify investment options across its nation.
Portugal Golden Visa Multiple Investment Options
Below are some of the most popular investment routes available to qualify for the Portuguese investment program:
- Real estate investment of €500K in Portugal Golden Visa Properties – reduced to €400K if located in a low-density area
- €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. The investment must incorporate or increase the share capital, and create at least ten full-time permanent jobs for at least three years
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, it started its very own Spanish Golden Visa Program in 2013.
Spanish residency is granted to investors and their families in exchange for a qualifying contribution in Spain’s economy worth at least €500,000. After acquiring the Spanish Golden Visa, an initial residency card will be issued to successful applicants, valid for one year – two if they visit Spain.
Once obtained, the residency permit can be renewed for a period of five years each time. By maintaining it, you apply for permanent residency in Spain on the condition that you have lived in the country for at least five years.
Spain Golden Visa Benefits
Spain’s Golden Visa program does not impose a minimum period of residence in the country. Its processing time is fast, and the temporary residency permit is easy to renew. Wealthy foreign nationals from former Spanish colonies who acquire this Golden Visa may find that they have the advantage of applying for Spanish citizenship in two short years when compared to the standard ten year rule for other non-EU/EEA applicants.
Spain Golden Visa Investment Options
There are a few investment routes available for applicants to qualify for the Spanish investment program, these would be:
- Purchasing real estate property with a minimum value of €500,000
- Issuing a bank deposit of at least €1,000,000
- Investing a minimum of €1,000,000 in shares of Spanish businesses
- Investing at least €2,000,000 in Spanish government bonds – or a government development fund
- Start a business in Spain that generates employment, contributes to technological and/or scientific innovation, or has a strong socio-economic impact
Anyone who enjoys iconically gorgeous beaches, Mediterranean cuisine, and endless sunshine might want to consider becoming a Greek resident. Greece’s Golden Visa Program welcomes non-EU/EEA nationals who seek to invest in the nation and enables them to live out the life they dream of. In exchange for a qualifying contribution in the Greek economy, investors get to enjoy EU residency, visa-free travel within the European Union, and prime living conditions among other things.
Greece Golden Visa Benefits
There’s a reason why foreign investors and third country nationals are lining up to apply for the Golden Visa scheme in Greece. The program has a fast application processing time of two months, and qualifies all holders of the Golden Visa for citizenship after seven years of naturalization – provided they pass the Greek citizenship test.
With no residency requirements, and the opportunity to include their whole family in the application, the Greek Golden Visa scheme offers investors the golden combo of living in a European country and benefiting from attractive investment opportunities.
Greece Golden Visa Investment Options
The most popular route to obtaining a Greek residence permit is, by far, through purchasing a real estate property in Greece that’s worth at least €250,000. Aside from it being the cheapest investment option provided under the Greek Golden Visa scheme, most investors favor this investment route over others because it enables them to rent out their property and earn back some of their initial investment.
Foreign investors can, alternatively, choose one of the following investment routes and still qualify for the Greek Golden Visa:
- Place an investment worth at least €400,000 in Greek government bonds
- Make a capital contribution of at least €400,000 in securities or a bank deposit in Greek
- Make a capital contribution of at least €400,000 in bonds or shares of a venture capital fund, private equity fund, or a mutual fund based in Greece
- Invest €800,000 in shares, corporate bonds, or Greek Treasury bonds listed in trading facilities operating in Greece
Ireland is a country of vast landscapes, excellent beer, world-leading education institutions, and endless business opportunities. It is the only English-speaking country offering the Golden Visa in Europe, which is why high-net-worth investors are particularly interested in the Irish Golden Visa investment program. Applicants are provided a residence permit within four months of their application in exchange for a minimum financial investment of €500,000 in the Irish economy.
Ireland Golden Visa Benefits
Ireland’s Golden Visa scheme is particularly popular among entrepreneurs and international investors seeking the perfect balance between business and pleasure. It allows qualifying individuals to include their entire family in their application, which works out perfectly for those who wish to enroll their children in leading universities. To top it off, they all get to enjoy an excellent quality of life, and benefit from an Irish passport that can be obtained in as little as six years.
Ireland Golden Visa Investment Options
The Irish Golden Visa program provides its applicants with a diverse range of investment options. Whether they choose to invest in an existing enterprise in Ireland, go for a low-risk option and invest in government-sanctioned funds, or make a charitable donation to an Irish cause, all routes qualify them for the scheme.
Below are the qualifying investment options for obtaining the Irish Golden Visa in full detail:
- Contribute a minimum investment of €1,000,000 to an Irish enterprise or business
- Place a minimum investment of €1,000,000 in approved funds
- Place a minimum investment of €2,000,000 in an Irish real estate investment trust
- Donate €500,000 to a charitable project or cause in Ireland
Cyprus is a land known for its glorious gorges, delicious cuisine, and year-round warm weather. Being perfectly situated in the Mediterranean sea, it provides easy access to Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The island-nation’s government provides high-net-worth-individuals and foreign investors with the opportunity of acquiring Cypriot residency in as little as three months in exchange for a small financial investment of €300,000 in the Cypriot economy.
Cyprus Golden Visa Benefits
The Cyprus Golden Visa scheme provides one of the fastest routes to European residency, and enables qualifying individuals to include their entire immediate family in their application. This grants them access to the Republic’s incredible education and healthcare systems, as well as freedom of travel within Europe. Moreover, the country has some of the best taxation systems, whereby residents and non-residents get to benefit from some of the most lenient exemptions and incentives.
Cyprus Golden Visa Investment Options
There are four investment routes under the Cyprus Golden Visa scheme. Applicants can either purchase real estate property, or place the minimum required sum of €300,000 in alternative investment funds.
Below are the qualifying investment options for obtaining the Cyprus Golden Visa in full detail:
- Purchase a residential property worth at least €300,000
- Purchase a commercial property worth at least €300,000
- Place a minimum investment of €300,000 in the share capital of a Cypriot company
- Place a minimum investment of €300,000 in units of a Cyprus Collective Investment Organization
The United States offers two investor visa programs for anyone seeking a permanent residency in its nation – the EB5 and E2. These programs enable investors to receive legal residence status in the United States, provided they make a substantial contribution in the US economy. Both programs enable the main applicant’s immediate family to qualify for the same benefits they would reap, meaning they could all fully relocate to the United States.
United States Golden Visa Benefits
There are many benefits to consider when it comes to investing in US Golden Visa programs. Two of which are the possibility of acquiring a Green Card permit with full work privileges in the USA, and accruing stable return rates on your initial investment.
With the programs enabling qualifying individuals to include their entire family in their applications, investors can rest assured that their children will have access to the United States’ world-class, Ivy-League universities.
The EB5 Visa US Permanent Resident scheme acts as a path to US citizenship for foreign investors seeking permanent migration. The main condition for them to be eligible for US citizenship is for them to reside in the nation for a minimum period of five years. The E2 Visa US scheme, on the other hand, is exclusively aimed at investors who are looking to expand, or bring their businesses into the nation.
United States Golden Visa Investment options
Applicants to these programs have a few investment options to choose from. They can either make a capital investment in a commercial enterprise, start a business and create at least ten full-time jobs, or place a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise. For the E2 Visa, the general minimum qualifying investment starts at as little as $100,000. Meanwhile, the EB5 Visa requires a higher investment threshold starting from $900,000.
The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment program launched in 2012, and has since been offering investors and their family members the unique opportunity of acquiring Antigua and Barbuda citizenship in as little as three or four months, in exchange for a qualifying contribution in its economy.
Applicants seeking to acquire a permanent Antigua residency may choose one of the following investment options:
- Invest $100,000 in the Antigua National Development Fund or an approved charity. This investment sum extends the Golden Visa to a family of up to four members. If the family consists of five or more members, then the minimum required sum would be $125,000.
- Purchase a real estate property valued at a minimum of $400,000 in a pre-approved real estate area in Antigua. The investment property must be kept for at least five years, and the property must be selected from the government’s approved development projects list. Property registration, processing fees, and taxes may be paid in addition to the initial investment sum.
- Establish an approved business worth at least $1,500,000. Two or more primary applicants may choose to make a joint business investment with an individual minimum investment of $400,000 and a total investment of at least $5,000,000. Applicants considering this investment route are advised to contact the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) to discuss their business proposal.
- Make a donation of $150,000 or more to the University of the West Indies Fund. This option is primarily favorable among applicants with families consisting of six members and above, as it entitles one of the family members to a one year, tuition only, scholarship at the University of the West Indies.
The Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program has become a popular scheme due to its fast processing time, flexible requirements, and many alluring benefits. In just three to four months, qualifying investors can obtain a Dominica passport that provides them with dual citizenship status, visa-free access to 140 countries, and enticing tax exemptions among other things.
The minimum required investment for a single applicant is $100,000, while the minimum investment sum for a family of four is about $200,000. The Dominica Golden Visa program provides applicants with two investment options:
- Making a donation with the qualifying sum to the Economic Diversification Fund
- Investing the sum in government approved real estate
The luxurious St. Kitts and Nevis was one of the first countries to provide foreign nationals with the Golden Visa investment program when it launched in 1984. The Saint Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program grants investors and their family members a St Kitts and Nevis passport in as little as four months, in exchange for a qualifying investment in the nation with a minimum value of $150,000.
Applicants to the program can either place the minimum investment sum of $150,000 in the Sustainable Growth Fund, or place an investment worth at least $200,000 in a qualifying real estate property in the dual-island nation.
Bear in mind that a real estate investment with a minimum value of $200,000 would be resalable after seven years, whereas a property investment with a minimum value of $400,000 would be resalable after five years.
The Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program grants investors and their family members a St Lucia passport in exchange for an investment worth at least $100,000 in the island nation’s economy. While that minimum qualifying sum can only be placed in the National Economic Fund as per the program’s requirements, there are other investment options for applicants to choose from, and they are:
- Real estate investment of at least $300,000 in pre-approved high-end branded hotels and resorts, or a boutique property
- Investment worth at least $3,500,000 in an enterprise in Saint Lucia
- Investment worth at least $500,000 in government bonds
With a fast application processing time as little as three months, and no residency requirements, this citizenship by investment program is one of the best Golden Visas offered across the Caribbean, and one of the most successful.
The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program launched in 2013, and has since been granting qualifying individuals and their family members the opportunity to obtain the Grenada passport in exchange for a credible investment in the island’s economy. The investment options that this Golden Visa scheme provides are:
- Investment worth at least $150,000 in the National Transformation Fund
- Investment worth at least $220,000 in pre-approved tourism accommodation
- Investment worth at least $350,000 in a government-approved real estate project
Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Visas
What are Golden Visas?
Golden Visas are immigration and investment schemes that allow qualifying investors and their family members to obtain residency status, and sometimes even citizenship status, in a specific country, provided they make a qualifying contribution to its economy.
Are Golden Visas expensive?
The cost of obtaining Golden Visas varies from country to country. In Portugal, for example, the Golden Visa’s minimum investment threshold starts at €280,000, while with the Spanish Golden Visa, it starts at €500,000. If you’re considering investing in either program, it may interest you to learn all about the Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa Comparison.
What is the best Golden Visa Program in Europe?
The best Golden Visa program in Europe is the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme. Not only is Portugal a fantastic place to live in, but the program offers several affordable investment routes, grants you residency rights rapidly, and qualifies you for Portuguese citizenship after five years of maintaining your investment.
What European countries offer Golden Visas?
There are plenty of European countries that offer Golden Visas to qualifying applicants who place a real estate investment in Europe. Some of these countries are: Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal.
What is the easiest country in Europe to get citizenship?
Malta has one of the easiest Golden Visa programs across Europe, where qualifying applicants become eligible for obtaining citizenship by means of naturalization. The Malta Citizenship by Investment program – officially called the Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (CES) – provides qualifying applicants with a Maltese citizenship in as little as 12-36 months, depending on their investment.
Which is the easiest country to get PR in Europe?
The Golden Visa in Greece is one of the cheapest and easiest routes to obtaining permanent residence status in Europe. The program has a fast application processing time of two months, no residency requirements, and provides an opportunity of including the entire family in the application. All that is required for an individual to start living in Greece is to purchase a real estate property in Greece worth at least €250,000.
Who qualifies for Golden Visas in Portugal?
Anyone over the age of 18 with a clean criminal record can qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa, provided they place an investment worth at least €280,000 in Portuguese real estate and maintain that investment for a period of five years.
Does Italy have a Golden Visa?
Yes, Italy has a Golden Visa program that launched in late 2017. The Italian Investor Visa is commonly referred to as La Dolce Visa