La Vida offers a choice of several golden visa programmes for investment in residency and citizenship….
Portugal has proved to be the most popular destination in Europe for investors seeking a golden visa. Full residency is granted but there is no requirement to reside. Citizenship can be applied for after six years.
The Portuguese golden visa is a central feature of the government’s drive for international investment. With the country returning to growth the real estate market offers exciting prospects for the years ahead.
La Vida offers a choice of several golden visa programmes for investment in residency and citizenship….
Cyprus offers citizenship for investment levels of €2.0 million in real estate which is one of the big attractions of this programme. A Cypriot passport allows freedom to travel, study, work or live throughout the European Union.
Cyprus also offers residency through investment of just €300,000 allowing full family qualification. The investor visa is flexible with no requirement to live in the country.
La Vida offers a choice of several golden visa programmes for investment in residency and citizenship….
Spain is a firm favourite for many clients considering real estate investment to obtain a golden visa. One of the larger economies in Europe offering an investor visa programme.
Invest from €500,000 in real estate to gain the Spanish golden visa. This provides a flexible residency option. Permanent residency and citizenship can be applied for at a later stage subject to certain stipulations.
Greece offers a residency visa through property investment but eventual citizenship is not available to foreigners. Greece is a member of the EU Schengen visa zone and has no minimum stay requirement.
Prospective investors need to carefully consider the status of the economy in Greece, the real estate market and related property taxes. Greece offers a higher risk investment than other European nations.
Malta offers an Individual Investor Program which is appropriate for our very high net worth clients. In addition to committing to a residence in Malta for five years the scheme requires investment in government approved funds and instruments.
The Malta visa scheme leads to citizenship within one year for suitable applicants, a passport from an EU country and hence the freedom to live anywhere within the EU. The total investment required is typically in excess of €1.2 million.
The citizenship by investment programme for Grenada is one of the newest programmes available to investors. The Grenada passport offers visa-free travel to over 70 countries including the UK.
Grenada offers a low investment threshold. Applicants need invest just $250,000 in a government approved real estate project and maintain the investment for at least 4 years.
The citizenship by investment programme for Antigua and Barbuda provides a second passport to investors offering visa-free travel to over 100 countries including the UK, EU Schengen zone and Canada.
There are several options for investment to gaining citizenship in Antigua including real estate investment of a minimum $400,000.
The St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program is the oldest of its kind in the world. Established in 1984 the program grants citizenship through real estate investment to qualified applicants.
The government requires investment of $400,000 plus related government and due diligence fees. St Kitts offer visa free travel to over 120 countries. An ideal choice for a second passport.
The new golden visa programmes in Europe have made it possible to get residency and citizenship through investment in real estate. Countries such as Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta now offer this attractive benefit to high net worth invdividuals who invest in property in these countries.
We have highlighted below a brief description of the opportunity in each country along with the basic requirements such as how much to invest. However, for a full understanding of these options please contact one of our consultants.
Cyprus offers two programmes, one for permanent residency and one for citizenship. The residency programme requires an investment of €300,000 in real estate. For citizenship and an immediate second passport investment of €2 million is required. Both programmes are flexible for family qualification allowing parents, grand parents and children to qualify.
Portugal offers a residency scheme through investment of €500,000 into real estate. This programme grants temporary residence to the investor and their family providing the investment is maintained and renewed every two years. After five years applicants can then apply for permanent residence and after six years for citizenship and a passport.
The Spanish golden visa programme requires investment of €500,000 into property. Applications are processsed quickly and residency can be gained in a matter of months. For citizenship investors and their families need to live in Spain for a minimum of 10 years.
The cheapest residency investment programme currently available in Europe is that of Greece, requiring investment of just €250,000 in real estate. Flexible rules apply for full family qualification across three generations.
Malta is unique in requiring investment in property and further investment contribution in the form of a government donation. However citizenship and a second European passport is on offer to those investing and waiting the 12 months or so it takes to obtain full citizenship.
Other countries have residency and citizenship investment programmes that are not directly linked to real estate. Contact us for further details on how to apply for and buy permanent residency and citizenship through investment in the UK, USA, Bulgaria, Hungary, Dominica, St Kitts, Grenada, St Lucia and Antigua.
One of the most beneficial amendments is that older dependent children up to the age of 30 years old can now be included under the one family application. This is one of the highest age limits for children that we have seen across the various residency and citizenship programmes that we offer and can fill a gap in the market.
The age limit for dependent parents has also been lowered from 65 to 55 years old, offering more flexibility for family applications. And lastly dependent children born after citizenship has been granted and under the age of 16 will also be eligible for citizenship.
The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme requires a real estate investment of €400,000 + costs and will grant investors and their family members citizenship within 3- 4 months. A St Kitts Passport will enable visa free travel throughout several key areas, including the Schengen zone, UK and Canada.
One of our most popular real estate investments projects in St Kitts has been this 5* Hotel Resort. Here investors can expect to find high quality luxury hotel apartments with sensational views across the crystal clear Caribbean sea. For more details, please contact one of our consultants.
This year 2016 has proven to be a further step on the ever developing market for investor visa programmes. Demand is increasing for most schemes, many programmes have changed and further amendments are expected in 2017. With a Trump victory, Brexit and European immigration concerns we can expect major changes to continue into 2017 and 2018.
We have highlighted below some of the key developments in 2016 and expectations of change in the year ahead.
The delays in SEF in processing golden visa applications in mid 2015 led to a drop in numbers. However a new fast track procedure introduced earlier this year has put applications back on track. The number of approved applications in 2016 looks set to be the highest ever running at over 2000 investors per annum. The introduction of a €350,000 limit for renovation projects is taking time to produce the necessary supply. Such projects are complicated and need to be fully managed. La Vida has sourced some interesting options for clients and we will see more of these in 2017. The property market is gaining strength in Portugal with price rises over the last three years now fuelling growth and demand. Developers are reluctant to offer discounts and the best properties are sold long before completion.
There were some key changes introduced in 2016 to the Cyprus citizenship and residency programmes.
The qualifying real estate investment level for citizenship was reduced from €2.5 million to €2.0 million. The timescale for achieving the pasport increased to six months as it is now necessary to hold residency (but not necessary to live in Cyprus) before being issued a passport. It still remains the fastest route to EU citizenship.
The residency programme was amended to include parents. Three generations can now be included for an investment of just €300,000 in real estate. A key benefit is that this is for Permanent Residency (PR).
Changes for 2017 could see Cyprus becoming part of the EU Schengen zone. Anyone obtaining the Permanent Residency before that point will no doubt retain it should Cyprus enter Schengen. The EU has not allowed any Schengen country to issue Permanent Residency immediately on investment. Should Schengen happen then we can expect some changes to the programme. Investors may be wise to act sooner to grab the benefits on offer.
The economy in Cyprus may well see a further boost in 2017 with the discovery of huge natural gas resources off the coastline and the development of its first casino under the Hard Rock brand.
Political developments in Hungary could well see the end of the residency bond visa programme in 2017. It has been possible to obtain residency in Hungary through a €300,000 investment in government residency bonds. However Hungary’s nationalist opposition party Jobbik is seeking an end to the programme in return for its support on other matters. Parliament closes this week so unless change happens in the next few days we can expect no further developments until at least February 2017. Still time for any investor to get their application in ahead of any changes.
We can expect changes in 2017 to the recently launched citizenship programme in St. Lucia. The scheme has been in operation less than 12 months but there is a new government in place and new ideas and our conversations with those close to the programme suggest a more coordinated and consolidated programme will be launched in 2017.
The Spanish government made some changes to its golden visa programme in 2016 but nothing that enables it to seriously compete with some of the better schemes on the market.
The government is reaping the benefits of its $100,000 contribution limit. The caribbean countries are concerned that this is a race to the bottom in terms of sale of passports.
Expect changes to the St. Lucia citizenship by investment program in 2017. A change of government has already led to a $100,000 donation offer until 31 March 2017.
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.
La Vida CEO Paul Williams met with the head of the Citizenship Investment Unit for Antigua and Barbuda, Chisanga Chekwe at the 7th Industry Elite Convention in Shanghai where Mr Chekwe outlined the key features of the citizenship investment programme.
Antigua has very strict due diligence laws that ensures the integrity of the Antigua passport. He revealed that while it should take around 90 days to complete an application in practice the processing time is between 30 and 60 days.
Antigua and Barbuda offers the benefit of no taxation and citizenship for life for applicants. The main country of origin for applicants remains China followed then by Lebanon and Syria with a wide spread of countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa beyond this.
The Antigua programme also allows for the adding of family members at a later date. For example should the applicant marry and later wish to add a spouse, children and parents. Further fees are payable for each applicant.
Please register here to receive further details from La Vida once the permanent residency programme is launched.
The Hungarian residency by investment programme has been in operation since 2012 and since its inception has attracted over 3,400 applicants. Applicants investing €300,000 into special Hungarian Residency Bonds with zero coupon were entitled to residency in Hungary.
Changes introduced by the Hungarian government in 2016 have made the programme even more attractive to applicants as European governments enhance their residency schemes in competition to attract more investment into their economies.
Following rule changes on 1 July 2016 applicants can now apply for Hungarian Permanent Residency in one step. The previous requirement was two stage, granting temporary residency initially and the right to apply for permanent residency in six months. The new rules eliminate this first step allowing applicants to gain PR in just four weeks.
In addition to spouse and minor children, investors may now include their parents and children over 18 in the application. All family members enjoy visa free access to travel throughout the Schengen zone.
A previous requirement for a residential address in Hungary has been dropped from 1st July 2016.
After seven years of residency applicants and their families can apply for citizenship in Hungary.
Please contact us for further details and fees related to the programe or follow this link for more on the Hungary residency programme.
On the 23 June 2016 the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. So how does this affect immigration investment programmes in Europe that can lead to residency in the United Kingdom?
European Union citizens are free to travel, work and live in any other EU country. This means for countries such as Cyprus and Malta who issue citizenship and second passports through investment, that any investor in these programmes who gains a passport of that country, is free to live anywhere in the EU, including the UK.
It is important to understand at this point that the UK has not left the EU. The UK population has voted 52% to 48% to leave. But the referendum result is not legally binding and it is now down to the UK Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the European Union. Once invoked this starts a two year process for the UK to leave the European Union. David Cameron the current UK Prime Minister has gracefully passed this task on to his successor, whoever that may be.
The degree of Euro sceptism among potential candidates for Prime Minister varies with talk of potentially re-negotiating Britain’s position within the EU or maintaining many of the benefits and restraints within a new deal. Writing this just a few days after the referendum there seem to be many ways this could now play out, and varying timescales as to when it will eventually be resolved.
But let’s for the moment assume that the UK does invoke Article 50 and the UK leaves the EU.
One of the key principles of the European Union is the free movement of people. And that is the key question that concerns us when it comes to residency or citizenship by investment in any of the other EU countries. All EU members have to abide by this. In addition other countries gaining access to the single market such as Norway are also required to comply.
Until Article 50 is invoked and for the two year period afterwards then the UK remains part of the EU. This means that for the next two years, nothing will change. Any EU citizen can live in the UK or anywhere else in the EU.
For those EU nationals already living in the UK at the time of the UK leaving the EU (2018 possibly 2019) we suspect the chances of being allowed to remain are very high.
There are 3 million EU nationals living in the UK currently and 1 million UK nationals living elsewhere in the European Union. We expect an undignified 3 for 1 swap across the English Channel is unlikely. We also believe that there will be no distinction between those who entered post referendum or even post Article 50.
The reason being that such residents entered the UK completely legally under rules and laws at the time. Not only would it be difficult for a government to send back or “deport” such residents we expect it would not be in the government’s interests to enter into any political row with it’s European neighbours.
Our advice to anyone seeking UK residency through investment in the EU is to act now. Gaining residency in the UK directly through investment under the Tier 1 programme is virtually impossible in the current climate. Residency through a EU passport, as explained above, is the only viable option and one that is likely to remain an option for the next two years. The only countries through which an EU passport can be gained by investment within this timescale are Malta and Cyprus.
The earlier such investment is made, the earlier UK residency can be undertaken and the more likely it is that such residency will not be affected upon the UK leaving the EU.
Despite popular belief there are very few European countries that offer residency through investment in real estate. These programmes guarantee the investor residency provided they meet some straightforward criteria. In some countries residency may progress to citizenship (Portugal, Spain, Greece) and in the case of Cyprus then citizenship by investment in real estate is immediate.
The countries offering this are Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and to some extent Malta, although further conditions are attached in addition to the purchase of property.
European countries without such golden visa programme for real estate include Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Many European governments do offer residency through investment but that investment tends to be aimed at entrepreneurs aiming to create business and jobs in the country. Often there is an application process involving interviews and a consideration of business plans. In this sense the outcome is not guaranteed.
Several countries in Europe offer residency through investment in real estate. Some of these country programs may lead to citizenship and a European passport.
The key to these schemes, unlike traditional immigration programs is that the investor gains the right to travel and reside in the country without the requirement to live there and become tax resident.
Check our summary below for details on the five main programs in Europe that will lead to residency through real estate investment and follow the links to more detailed guides on each program.
Invest €500,00 in real estate. This gains residency in Spain for 5 years with renewals:
Read More: Golden Visa Spain
Invest €500,00 in real estate. This gains residency in Portugal with the potential for citizenship and a second passport after six years, without the requirement to become resident.
Read More: Golden Visa Portugal
The ultimate program for those High Net Worth Individuals seeking quick citizenship and a European passport within three months.
Read More: Citizenship by Investment Cyprus
A lower cost option for citizenship in Europe for those prepared for a lengthier application process and willing to make a donation.
Read More: Citizenship by Investment Malta
The low cost option for residency in Europe. Invest just €250,000 in real estate. A Schengen country but future citizenship will only arise through 7 years of residency.
Read More: Investor Visa Greece
It is now possible to gain permanent residency through investment in a European country without the need to live there and become tax resident. Countries offering permanent residency visas through investment include Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece Hungary, Bulgaria and Malta.
Permanent residency gives the right to live in a country and is distinct from citizenship whereby a second passport can be gained. In Europe there are several countries offering temporary residence that later leads to permanent residency (PR) or alternatively permanent residency outright from the point of investment. In all cases where the applicant invests either in real estate or government bonds, there is no requirement for the applicant to reside in the country but they have the right to do so if they wish. There are also four Caribbean countries offering permanent residency as part of their citizenship programmes. They include St. Kitts, Antigua, Dominica and Grenada.
Invest €500,000 in real estate plus related costs and taxes to gain residency. After five years applicants and their families can apply for permanent residency 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.
You can gain permanent residency in Greece through investing €250,000 in real estate. Taxes and fees on property are high in Greece, as much as 27% on top of the property price. Permanent residency can apply to three generations in Greece, that is parents and children
Invest €300,000 in government bonds in Hungary for permanent residency. The bonds pay zero interest and are refunded to the investor after five years.
Invest €512,000 into government bonds in Bulgaria to gain permanent residency. Investors can increase this to €1,024,000 to gain fast track citizenship in Bulgaria.
Permanent residency through investment in Malta is achieved through the citizenship programme. This requires a total investment of around €1.2 million.
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.