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Portugal continues as the top choice for investors seeking residency visas in 2015. The Portuguese government has issued over 2,000 residency visas since the programme began two years ago. The flexibility of the programme means investors need spend an average of just one week each year in the country to renew the investor visa. Importantly applicants do not need to live in Portugal before applying for permanent residency and citizenship, making the programme the most attractive of the European schemes. The scheme has helped drive the property market in Portugal with prices of prime real estate in areas such as the capital Lisbon, now rising as the economy recovers.
La Vida specialises in real estate and offfers residency visa investments in the most popular countries, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria, St. Kitts and Antigua. Despite competition from other European countries and the Caribbean, Portugal remains the clear favourite among investors offering visa free travel in the EU Schengen zone and the potential for permanent residency and citizenship in Europe.
Greece has been popular for enquiries because of its headline rate of just €250,000 real estate investment, suiting many investors with limited budgets. However citizenship is restrictive, requiring investors to live in Greece before applying. Doubts over the economy also weigh on the programme.
St. Kitts is popular for investors seeking a second passport and ease of access to many countries. But neighbouring Antigua has a limited time offer of no government fees for dependents (expected until 1 April 2015) and compares favourably with St. Kitts and now offers a lower investment option.
Cyprus remains the destination of choice for high net worth individuals. An investment of €2.5 million in real estate results in an EU passport within a few months. Investors and their family can live, work, study and travel anywhere within the European Union.
La Vida can offer a superb option for investment into St. Kitts to obtain a second passport and citizenship. Invest just $400,000 in order to gain St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship.
Koi Resort | Residences provides the optimal solution for wealthy individuals seeking dual citizenship or stunning vacation property. Koi is a title-deeded ownership residence that is currently in development on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Located on 14-acres of beachfront property on Halfmoon Bay, the resort will feature a variety of luxury villas and suites with sweeping ocean views and the very best in amenities.
Koi Resort | Residences has been approved by the government of St. Kitts and Nevis as a Citizenship by Investment project, and has also been qualified as a National Development Project.
During the 5-year holding period, buyers that purchase before February 15, 2015 are entitled to receive:
• KRL Worry-Free Credit of the Regular Annual Assessments during the 5-Year Holding Period, as a draw against future Rental Revenues.
• Early Buyer Credit of $29,057 to cover Real Estate Closing Costs (see below)
Real Estate Closing Costs
• Stamp Duty(Gov’t tax 5%) USD $ 20,000.00
• Government Assurance Fund USD $ 800.00
• Registration & Non-National Fee USD $ 57.00
• Attorney Closing Fees 1% USD $ 4,000.00
• Escrow Fees 1% USD $ 4,000.00
• Courier Fees ($100 each x 2 max = $200) USD $ 200.00
• Total Real Estate Closing Costs $ 29,057.00
Each title-deeded interest owner is entitled to:
• 7 usage days during the high season (November 1 to May 14), AND
• 28 usage days during the low season (May 15 to October 31)
• Access to: housekeeping, concierge, gym, spa, pool, tennis courts, and other amenities
• Projected Rental Revenues of 2-5%
5-Star Management Company handles:
• hiring and maintaining operational and management staff
• maintenance work for interior of residences, common areas and landscaping
• utilities, security, and other services
• fully furnished residences, regularly maintained
Complimentary One-year Membership to Elite St. Kitts- which provides the following services:
• Obtaining Residency Requirements
• Obtaining Driver’s License and SKN Biometric Passport Renewal
• Company Formation
• Banking Relations
• Foreign Visa Travel Updates
The government in Greece is introducing changes to its golden visa programme. The new rules allow three generations of family members to benefit from the visa. An investment of just €250,000 in real estate will qualify the applicant, parents (of both investor and spouse) and children for a five year renewable residency visa. There is no minimum stay requirement for applicants. Greece is a member of the EU Schengen visa zone so a holder of the Greek residency permit is allowed freedom to travel throughout the European Union. The investor will be able to sell his/her property to another foreign citizen, and transfer the residency permit together with the property.
One aspect of the programme changes is that the path to citizenship has improved but remains difficult. Changes to citizenship rules mean investors will now be able to apply for citizenship after 7 years of residency. But that requires living in Greece for more than six months each year and passing a Greek language test. Countries such as Bulgaria and Portugal require higher investment levels but more assured routes to citizenship and ultimate freedom of Europe.
Property prices in Greece have dropped as much as 50% since the credit crisis and are now showing signs of stability. Many local developers we work through are confident as the market for more desirable properties such as villas with good rental prospects in prime vacation areas are in demand. La Vida offers a portfolio of property in Greece including Athens, the surrounding coastal area and the islands. Some of these properties offer guaranteed rental for investors. Contact us for full details.
Two countries in Europe, Bulgaria and Hungary offer residency visas through investment in government bonds. By investing in these bonds in either country investors are free to live in the countries with permanent residency.
The EU consists of 28 states and both Hungary and Bulgaria are full members of the European Union.
Hungary is a member of the Schengen visa zone of 26 countries in Europe that have opened their borders to passport free travel between their borders.
Investment in Hungarian bonds grants the freedom to live there but there is no requirement to reside. This is a key benefit for residency visa investors who want the freedom to travel and the security of a second home without the necessity to relocate family, become tax resident and potentially lose existing citizenship. With Hungary one of the key benefits is freedom of travel in the EU Schengen zone.
With Bulgaria the most attractive benefit is extending the investment in order to qualify for fast track citizenship and a second passport. Bulgaria is not a member of the Schengen area but is legally obliged and wishes to join at some future point.
However, as Bulgaria is a member of the EU, citizenship of Bulgaria means citizenship of the European Union. That then allows the freedom to live, work, travel or study anywhere within the EU. The EU includes countries such as the UK and Ireland that are not part of the Schengen visa zone.
Investment in the bonds in either country means zero interest return but the bonds can be realised for the full value at maturity. They are effectively an interest free loan to the government of the respective country. However with the costs and taxes associated with real estate investment these could be an alternative for many investors.
It is also possible to finance the bonds in both cases which means a far reduced cost with the same benefits of residency and citizenship. The bonds then have no redemption value but the investment is significantly reduced.
Requirements can change. Contact us for further details on these bond programmes.
Perhaps one of the most sought after and immediate benefits of certain golden visa programmes in Europe is the granting of a Schengen visa.
The Schengen Visa represents a total of 26 European countries that have mutually decided to eliminate passport and immigration controls at their joint borders. Holders of a Schengen visa can travel freely throughout the Schengen visa zone.
Many investors see this as a key benefit. No need to continually be applying for a Schengen visa to visit Europe, as with the right programme this comes as part of the investor visa package.
But investors and their families need to check each programme carefully and in particular whether that country is part of the Schengen visa area.
For example, Cyprus offers residency through an investment of €300,000. But Cyprus is not part of the Schengen zone. Cyprus also offers citizenship through a €2.5 million investment in real estate. That grants citizenship of Cyprus and hence citizenship of the EU and hence an EU passport. A Schengen visa is no longer needed.
Investors and their families buying real estate to the value of €500,000 in Spain and Portugal will gain a Schengen visa. Likewise Hungary and Greece through their programmes.
The Schengen area countries are currently Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Investors looking to buy into a visa programme in Europe are encouraged to do so sooner rather than later. After the credit crisis governments are keen to encourage investment from high net worth individuals from overseas. In exchange they grant residency often with complete freedom of movement and no requirement to live and become tax resident. Such residency can ultimately lead to citizenship and a second passport.
However some programs have been subject to change. Cyprus increased its investment for citizenship limit from €2.0 million to €2.5 million recently and Hungary is expected to increase its investment limit in government bonds from €250,000 to €300,000 soon. Latvia doubled its real estate investment limit in April 2014. Changes will not affect those families who have already invested in the programmes.
Portuguese Minister of Tourism Adolfo Mesquita Nunes confirmed recently at a conference in London attended by La Vida that there would be no change to the minimum investment of €500,000 for the golden visa in Portugal.
Below is a brief summary of investor visa limits for each country:
Invest €500,000 in real estate plus related costs and taxes to gain residency and eventual citizenship through application. After six years investors and their families can apply for citizenship in Portugal.
Invest €500,000 in Spain to gain residency and apply for permanent residency after five years. Investors have to live in Spain during that time. and can later apply for citizenship after ten years.
Investors can gain permanent residency in Greece through investing €250,000 in real estate. Greece offers the lowest investment level in Europe for the golden visa.
Investors can place €300,000 in government bonds in Hungary for permanent residency. The bonds pay zero interest and are refunded to the investor after five years. However the investment is guaranteed.
Investors hae a tiered option in Bulgaria. Invest €512,000 into government bonds in Bulgaria to gain permanent residency as a first stage. Investors can increase this to €1,024,000 to then gain fast track citizenship in Bulgaria.
Investment in Malta can gain permanent residency through the Maltese investment programme. Residency and citizenship can be achieved in Malta through a series on investments and contributions. This requires a total investment of around €1.2 million.
Cyprus has two levels of investor visa. One for permanent residency and one for citizenship. Permanent residency can be obtained in Cyprus through investing €300,000 in real estate. Applicants can apply for citizenship by increasing this to €3 million.
Several countries within the EU have introduced the golden visa to beneficial economic effect. As residency visa programmes within Europe compete for international investors more countries are set to join the European Union in the coming years.
Countries who recently joined the EU and are now offering a golden visa for real estate or government bonds include Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia.
As the EU expands we can expect to see golden visa programmes in the coming years from Turkey, Iceland, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Hercegovina. All these countries are currently trying to join the EU. Free movement rules within the EU allow citizens of any EU country to move throughout the European Union.
Major economies such as Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and Germany are unlikely to offer investor style golden visas based on real estate investment although invariably offer some form of entrepreneur visa for business investment creating jobs.