Best Residence and Citizenship Investment for South America

November 13th, 2016   •   Investment, Investor Visa, Residency   •   Comments Off on Best Residence and Citizenship Investment for South America   

south-america-citizenship-residencyWhat are the best investment programmes for residents and citizens of South American countries to consider for alternative citizenship and residency?

La Vida has witnessed high demand from South America in the last two years in particular from Brazil and Argentina and Europe has proven popular as a destination.

Both Spain and Portugal offer residency visa programmes through investment of €500,000 in real estate. With the Spanish and Portuguese languages each is popular with Argentinian and Brazilian residents. Acceleration to permanent residency and citizenship is also possible due to the historical connections. Both programmes allow the freedom of travel within the EU Schengen visa zone but they are also highly desirable location for South Americans to relocate.

Closer to home there are several options in the Caribbean. Five countries now offer a second passport for investments of typically between $400,000 – $600,000 all costs considered. Holders of these passports (St Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia) have access to the EU Schengen zone for up to 3 months. Likewise travel to the UK is straightforward on such a passport.

Investors need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each programme. La Vida can advise on this and provide a selection of real estate investment options for investors and their families to qualify.

Spanish Property Predicted to Rise 12%

November 24th, 2015   •   Investment, Investor Visa, Real Estate   •   Comments Off on Spanish Property Predicted to Rise 12%   

Spanish property prices appear to be rising and could climb by 12% in 2016 according to an article published in the Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo recently. Barcelona University professor and real estate expert Gonzalo Bernardos explains the reasons behind rising prices and why the market could rise as much as 50% over the next four years.

Currently, the residential market in Spain is expanding. In the second quarter of 2015 the annual increase of housing prices was 4% and the level of transactions rose by 13.9%. The first signs of a rising market were observed in the main cities in late 2014. However, “nobody should expect the formation of a new bubble”, as all the main variables including market price, housing starts and percentage of household income devoted to making mortgage payments are far from the level they reached in 2006 and 2007.

The main reasons for the rise in price of housing are:

Properties are relatively cheap

Once adjusted for inflation, most are worth less than half that in 2007 and about the same as in 2002. Bernardos claims that at present buying a well located home is a great opportunity, and that in 2016 prices will rise by 12%.

Banks are willing to lend

The willingness of banks to grant more mortgages. Today, banks have plenty of liquidity and are earning low margins on lending. Mortgage loans are attractive to the banks. The loans are less risky and lead to cross selling of products. Banks are keen to lend again in the property market and easier credit will fuel prices. The number of residential mortgages issued climbed by 28.5% in the year to July 2015.

Property offers the best investment

With low returns on deposits and volatile equity markets many risk-averse investors are turning to the real estate market. Bernardos says housing offers a mix of high expected capital gains (up to 50% in what remains of this decade), and rental yields of around 3.5%, better than savings accounts.

Switch from renting to buying

Many households in Spain sat out the crisis in rented accommodation, waiting for house prices to bottom out, for the economy to improve and mortgages to get cheaper. With those conditions now in place and the Spanish economy growing at an annual 3.1%, Spanish families are jumping back into the market, unleashing pent up demand.

In short, Bernardos says a new stage in the housing market has begun in Spain. However, nothing will be the same as the boom and bust of recent years. All said, this is encouraging news for investors looking to buy for the Spanish Golden Visa.

Top Golden Visa Applicant Countries 2015

November 21st, 2015   •   Investment, Real Estate   •   Comments Off on Top Golden Visa Applicant Countries 2015   

Heat MapIn 2015 we have seen exceptional growth in demand for golden visas from around the globe. The Middle East, Asia and Africa continue to show strong growth with countries such as India, Pakistan, China, South Africa, Nigeria and the UAE all demonstrating considerable interest in the various programmes on offer.

La Vida has dealt with over 5,000 enquiries this year from around the globe. Our team of advisors has been busy helping many clients find the right real estate investment to obtain their residency and citizenship. Our team is often visiting countries where local meetings can take place. But with demand so widespread it is not possible to visit each country frequently. However we are always available to meet with clients in our head office in London and most of our clients simply liaise by phone/email/skype with our consultants before coming out to meet our representatives in the country of interest for their intended residency visa.

Clarification on Portugal Golden Visa Limit

October 30th, 2015   •   Investment, Investor Visa, Portugal, Portugal Golden Visa, Real Estate   •   Comments Off on Clarification on Portugal Golden Visa Limit   

A revision of rules for the golden visa in Portugal has left many potential applicants confused as to the rules and a great deal of misleading literature posted on the web suggesting the Portuguese golden visa limit has been reduced.

The qualifying real estate investment level for the golden visa in Portugal is €500,000. Earlier this summer the Portuguese government introduced a new investment level of €350,000 for certain categories of real estate.

The law states the following: “Acquisition of immovable assets, the construction of which has been completed, at least, 30 years ago or located in an area of urban regeneration and execution of refurbishment works in the acquired immovable assets…equal to or above 350 thousand euros;”

The point here is that even though this new option applies, it only applies to property that is over 30 years old or located in an urban regeneration area. It involves the execution of refurbishment works. This is an important aspect.

To qualify for the golden visa under such an investment requires the necessary permissions for renovation work on the building. Such permissions and payments to contractors all need to be done legally and of course within the tax structure so the necessary paperwork, proofs and payments are fully in order. To undertake such a project would mean employing project managers and the necessary architects. The applicant would have to have all the licences in place prior to any application being submitted which will of course delay any application for the visa. To mitigate any risk it is vital to ensure that any such property would qualify within this category. Clients would need to ensure they build sufficient time into their schedule to take care of all these additional aspects.

Clients visiting to invest €500,000 in a location such as Lisbon can usually complete the necessary tasks within a few days, accompanied by ourselves and our lawyers in a methodical, established and time proven manner. The alternative investment of €350,000 will require far more time and hands on management. Golden Visa applicants should be wary of companies offering such management for a fee and in particular remain conscious of the scope for overpaying for assets requiring reconstruction without the necessary independent professional advice from architects and surveyors. For any international client not residing in Portugal and trying to manage from a distance it can be problematic, time consuming and expensive.

The €350,000 is reduced by a further 20% to €280,000 for renovation in low density, less developed areas of the country. This naturally does not apply to the cities or the more populated coastal regions creating issues for any future rental income potential.

Cyprus Citizenship Investment Programme

June 4th, 2015   •   Investment   •   no comments   

Success of Cyprus Investment for Citizenship Programme

The Cyprus economy has been seriously boosted by the residence and citizenship programmes according to an an announcement last week by Mr Socrates Hasikos, Interior Minister of Cyprus.

On the one hand, this is a great achievement, on the other – the economy has received enough funds (more than €2 billion) and the pressure from the European Union is becoming hard. In particular, the Minister said: “The Republic of Cyprus is under pressure to stop this policy ….”.

EU Pressure could lead to change

It is well known that the European Union has been exerting hard pressure on Cyprus to either stop or amend the criteria since this is the first time that a passport of a European member-state could be obtained on such favorable conditions. Similar pressure was applied to Malta which led to changes in its programme.

So far, Cyprus has not made any changes to the policy. Quite the contrary. It introduced a “Collective scheme” in March 2014, which allowed the required investment threshold to be halved from €5 million to €2.5 million.

In particular, a representative of the European Commission, Ms Jourova has recently commented:
“As regards national schemes for naturalization of investors (investor citizenship schemes), the Commission recalls that it is for each Member State to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of its nationality. As confirmed in settled case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU, when exercising their competence in the area of nationality, Member States must have due regard to Union law. “The Commission has stressed that it expects Member States to use their prerogatives to award citizenship in a spirit of sincere cooperation with the other Member States and the EU. Account should be taken of the norms and obligations by which they are bound under international law and the criteria upon which they traditionally build their nationality laws.

Genuine Links may be required in future

These criteria require in particular the existence of a genuine link between the applicant for naturalization and the country or its people. Investor citizenship schemes providing for the possibility to obtain naturalization in return for investment alone do not meet the minimum requirement of a genuine link to the country. “The Commission is analyzing investor citizenship schemes in all Member States concerned. At this stage, it appears that there is only one member state granting naturalization in return for investment alone, namely Cyprus. “The Commission is currently pursuing a dialogue with the Cypriot authorities on this issue.”

Investors need to act soon

We expect therefore that with time the programme can be amended and additional compulsory requirements to obtain Cyprus citizenship introduced as happened in Malta for instance.

The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme is currently the “Rolls Royce” of investor citizenship programmes in Europe. It is the only country through which it is possible to get an immediate (2-3 months) European passport by investment.  However it is not forever in its present form and potential applicants need to act soon to take advantage while the door remains open.

For those who would like to apply for Cyprus passport the time has come to act briskly and decisively. So far all the amenities of the programme are still available without any amendment. Passports are issued on a weekly basis to those who have already applied and thus enjoy very favorable conditions that Cyprus offers.

*****Update 14th July 2015*****

Further to the above we are now hearing through several sources that Cyprus, under pressure from the EU, will introduce a one year residency rule prior to granting citizenship. This is likely to be introduced at the end of 2015. Such an introduction will restrict certain investors if they have to spend time residing or building ties with the country prior to the issuing of a passport. It will not affect passports issued before that date.

For further information please contact us online or call our European head office on +44 207 060 1475.

Citizenship by Investment

April 17th, 2015   •   Bonds, Citizenship, Investment, Real Estate, Schengen Travel   •   no comments   

European Citizenship and Passport

Citizenship and a European passport are often key objectives for many of our clients when considering the various European investor visa programmes.

It is important for any prospective investors to take careful professional advice on the programmes available before committing to an investment. There are many programmes on the market from differing countries, but not all of these lead to citizenship through investment.

The likes of Hungary, Greece and Spain are difficult or unlikely, sometimes requiring residence in the country. Portugal is far easier and Cyprus can be gained immediately with the right investment.

So what is citizenship and what benefits does it bring? Citizenship of any particular country within the European Union means a passport and importantly citizenship of the EU. So for example, if you gain citizenship in Portugal through real estate investment then you become an EU citizen. Similarly if you gain citizenship in Bulgaria through investment in government bonds you can also gain citizenship of the EU even though Bulgaria is outside the Euro and Schengen visa zone.

Every person holding the nationality of an EU country is automatically a citizen of the EU. This allows that person to move freely within the EU. To work, study and live wherever they wish within the European Union countries.

It is important to draw the distinction between the EU countries (there are 28) and the Schengen visa countries (there are 26). There are 22 EU countries participating in the Schengen visa zone and there are an additional 4 countries not part of the EU.

Residency in the Schengen visa countries allows freedom of travel throughout the Schengen area. But citizenship of an EU country provides the right to live and work within the EU countries. For example the United Kingdom and Ireland are EU countries, but not part of the Schengen visa zone.

Hence gaining citizenship in say, Cyprus or Portugal will allow the holder of that citizenship to live in the UK or Ireland.

Whichever country an investor targets for citizenship, there are sometimes faster, cheaper and easier options to gain permanent residency allowing them to live, work and study in that country by gaining entry through an alternative EU country.

Summary of Programmes in Europe

Citizenship by Investment Spain

It is possible to achieve citizenship through investment in real estate in Spain but the investor will need to live in Spain for 10 years before applying.

Citizenship by Investment Portugal

Citizenship can be applied for in Portugal six years after investment of a minimum €500,000 in real estate.

Citizenship by Investment Cyprus

Citizenship is available in Cyprus within 2 – 3 months on investing a minimum €2.5 million in real estate.

Citizenship by Investment Malta

Malta has an investment visa programme with a comination of investment and contribution totalling around €1.2 million with citizenship taking approximately 12 months.

Citizenship by Investment Greece

Citizenship in Greece through its real estate investment programme will be possible following changes to legislation (2015).

Citizenship by Investment Hungary

Changes to legislation in Hungary mean the investor visa bond programme could lead to citizenship after 5 years rather than the current 8 years. (2015)

Citizenship by Investment Bulgaria

The investment bond programme in Bulgaria can lead to fast track citizenship by doubling the bond investment from €512,000 to €1,024,000.

 

For reference the EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Portugal Guaranteed Rental 5% pa 5 years

March 3rd, 2015   •   Investment, Investor Visa, Real Estate, Rental Income   •   no comments   

We have a limited selection of real estate on this superb Luxury Collection Resort. Each fully furnished apartment is offered with a guaranteed 5% return after costs, for 5 years. The apartments, offered freehold, are ideal for international investors seeking the Portugal Golden Visa and looking for a “hassle free” fully managed property. Owners benefit from six months usage in addition to the guaranteed annual return. This allows owners to become tax resident if they so which and take advantage of the Portuguese non habitual residency tax law.

A total of 76 luxury apartments adjacent to the golf course, will have magnificent views overlooking the sea and the spectacular Algarve coastline in Portugal. The interior designer was inspired by the many Portuguese Discoveries and the exquisite hand painted tiles. A perfect combination of a Luxurious & Classic Style of the Portuguese Culture and the Glamour of the Luxury Collection ® Brand, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Prices start from €780,000 for two bedroom two bathroom apartments. Contact us for further details, a full brochure and video link.

House Prices Rise on Visa Demand

December 6th, 2014   •   Economy, Investment, Real Estate   •   no comments   

Lisbon and Porto the two largest cities in Portugal have seen a surge in sales of residential property since the introduction of the golden visa programme and the favourable tax regime for non-habitual residents. Research by Cushman and Wakefield shows a total of 1,362 homes were sold in Lisbon and 290 in Porto in the first quarter of 2014 a rise of 60% year on year for Lisbon and 30% for Porto. Average prices per sq. metre rose 18% in Lisbon and 8% in Porto.

With 1,775 golden visas issued in the first two years of the programme it is clear that demand of this magnitude from international investors has the ability to move the market. The research is consistent with our observations of rising prices throughout 2014 due to higher demand particularly at the €500,000 and above price level.

The outlook for 2015 is described as “positive” by Cushman and Wakefield. The pyschological factors affecting the market since the credit crisis have diminished and there are signs of improved lending conditions from the banks.

Residency Bond Programmes

November 9th, 2014   •   Bonds, Citizenship, Investment, Investor Visa, Passport, Residency, Schengen Travel   •   no comments   

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 Residency Bond

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.

Bulgaria Residency Bond

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.

 

 

Investor Visa Rules

October 7th, 2014   •   Bonds, Citizenship, Economy, Investment, Real Estate, Residency   •   no comments   

Investor Visa Programmes in Europe

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:

Investor Visa Portugal

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.

Investor Visa Spain

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.

Investor Visa Greece

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.

Investor Visa Hungary

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.

Investor Visa Bulgaria

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.

Investor Visa Malta

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.

Investor Visa Cyprus

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.