Golden Visa Programmes: Unlocking visa-free access to Europe

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Published: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 11:39 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 3:33 PM

As the world enters a post-pandemic inflationary cycle, investors are looking into dual citizenship and residency by investment programmes to provide a safe and secure hedge against inflation. The number of high-net-worth individuals searching for opportunities as dual citizens is steadily increasing. These investors are keen to take advantage of the visa-free travel and other benefits that come from obtaining a permanent residence or second passport.

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Over the years, Golden Visa programmes have grown in popularity, and the demand on Golden Visa and residency programmes like Portugal, Greece, and Malta increased by 48 per cent since 2021 in the GCC.

The year 2019 was a record year for the golden visa programmes, with various residency and citizenship programmes bringing in a colossal €5.5 billion. However, in just four years, the amount has more than doubled given the imposed visa restrictions. Residents from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as China are looking into golden visa and residence programmes to help them travel freely in Europe and other parts of the world.

Golden Visa programmes

Golden Visa, also known as residency by investment programmes, enables investors to obtain residency rights in that country. These cost-effective programmes require an initial investment and a thorough golden visa application process. However, once approved, investors can gain a lot of advantages from obtaining a European golden visa.

A scientific article published in 2021 by the London School of Economics and Harvard University points out that Golden Visa programmes that grant residence permits are highly demanded during times of political and economic recession.

What benefits can you enjoy with a Golden Visa?

Investors and wealthy families obtain a golden visa or long-term permanent residence status to legally live and work in the host country without being a citizen, as well as benefit from business opportunities, first-class education, and healthcare systems. Once the golden visa is granted, investors can easily conduct business in that country, which can lead to a plethora of professional opportunities in a variety of industries. Some countries also offer tax relief, allowing investors to pay lower taxes.

By investing in the EU, individuals are becoming globally mobile and can diversify their assets and finances. They can also lease their properties and expect an immediate return on their investment.

Golden visas can be extended to immediate family members which is a type of priceless asset for many generations to come. Among the most important benefits of Golden Visa programmes is visa-free travel to all Schengen countries with no restrictions.

Countries offering a Golden Visa

Following the success of Portugal's programme, other mid-tier European countries looking to raise funds established their own Golden Visa programmes. Therefore now, many European countries offer Golden Visa programmes. Portugal, Malta, and Greece golden visa programmes are the most popular amongst Arab expats living in the GCC.

Portugal Golden Visa

Portugal's Golden Visa programme, which began in 2012, is one of Europe's most popular residency-by-investment programmes and can be obtained in 6 months. If you are not a citizen of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you can apply for the programme by purchasing a commercially approved real estate with a minimum investment amount of EUR 280,000 in Portugal.

The most significant benefit of this golden visa is that it allows residents to apply for citizenship after only six years of investment and being a temporary resident. Furthermore, investors are not required to reside in Portugal permanently in order to qualify for the Portuguese citizenship.

Greece Golden Visa

Launched in 2013, the Greek Golden Visa programme provides a five-year residency visa in exchange for a real estate investment not less than EUR 250,000 in the country. The whole family can apply for the residency programme and obtain it within six months. Also, the Greek Golden Visa allows you to reside in Greece and travel freely within the Schengen area.

One of the unique benefits of the Greece Golden Visa is that its holders can obtain a special tax status that requires them to pay only a flat tax of EUR 100,000 per year, instead of the standard 45 per cent tax on income that they would otherwise face. This tax break can mean the difference between keeping hundreds of thousands of euros or losing them.

Malta Permanent Residency

Malta has a lifetime residency programme that can be obtained within months through a one-time non-refundable cash contribution, in addition to purchasing or leasing of real estate. The Malta Permanent Residence programme requires a minimum investment of EUR 150,000. The programme's primary selling point is that you do not have to renew it yearly or reside in Malta to sustain your status.

Golden Visas leading to a second citizenship

Citizenship programmes provide applicants with an immediate path to dual citizenship in a second country. In some cases, golden visa programmes do the same. However, the process is more complicated than in regular citizenship programmes.

The path to citizenship appears to be consistent from country to country, with some minor variations. Though there is no residency requirement to keep most golden visas valid, investors are usually required to live in the country full-time to be eligible for citizenship. Applicants must be able to pass language, historical, and cultural tests related to the country in which they seek dual citizenship from. If the application is approved, citizenship will be granted, and the individual will enjoy the many benefits that come with a European citizenship.

How to obtain a Golden Visa

Leading residency through investment programmes are the best solution for wealthy and high-net-worth individuals looking to optimize and protect their wealth, as well as expanding their business. Golden Visa programmes grant investors and their families the option of physically relocating to a new country, greater mobility, and access to high levels of safety.

Given the amount of the investment, most prospective investors hire experts to guide them through the process. Bluemina Citizenship and Residency, provides legal consultancy services when it comes to second passport and Golden Visa programmes, helping thousands of non-European investors and families receive their dual citizenship like Saint Kitts and Nevis or permanent residency cards in Europe. Bluemina will provide you with a free consultation and assist you in obtaining a lifetime citizenship that will be passed on to your future children and grandchildren, or a permanent residency that offers a safe haven and allows you and your family to access full residence rights in a new country.

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