Golden Visas hit 3 Billion Euros

April 25th, 2017   •   Portugal Golden Visa, Schengen Travel   •   Comments Off on Golden Visas hit 3 Billion Euros   

SEF Statistics- March17The Portuguese Golden Visa programme has always been a firm favourite since it was released back in 2012 and the latest figures from SEF, the immigration authorities, confirm this. A record breaking 3 billion euros has now been generated from investment via the Golden Visa scheme and there has been a total of 7,896 family residency visa’s granted so far.

2016 saw the busiest year to date with a total of 2,344 golden visa’s issued. But 2017 is set to see significantly higher figures with an impressive 1,259 visas being issued in just the first quarter alone.

The Golden Visa programme in Portugal has always been a popular choice for investors looking to secure EU residency rights via real estate investment. A major draw of this programme is the opportunity to apply for citizenship after 6 years, without the need to reside in the country for long periods on time. Like any EU residency visa scheme, the benefit of visa free travel throughout the Schengen zone is a huge advantage to many.

We urge anybody who is considering this visa programme to contact one of our expert consultants today. La Vida can assist with the whole process from A to Z, from providing initial advice, sourcing a property and processing the application itself through one of our specialist legal partners.

St Lucia vs Dominica Citizenship by Investment

April 11th, 2017   •   Citizenship, Passport, Schengen Travel   •   Comments Off on St Lucia vs Dominica Citizenship by Investment   

St Lucia vs Dominica Citizenship by Investment Since the St Lucian government re-launched their citizenship by investment scheme in January 2017, the programme has been a strong contender for the lowest priced scheme in the Caribbean, competing directly against the Dominica CBI programme.

Both schemes offer a competitive donation option, starting at just $100,000 for a single applicant, making both of these options the lowest priced second passport programmes on the market.

For many years, Dominica has been a firm favourite amongst investors looking for a cost effective route to Citizenship and visa free travel. However St Lucia now just takes the title as the lowest priced option with fractionally cheaper processing fees.

For a single applicant choosing the donation route in St Lucia, the additional processing costs and donation will come to a total of roughly $144,630 as opposed to Dominica where the overall cost will work out around $147,450

The real estate investment option in Dominica still remains to be the more popular option with the required investment threshold set at just $200,000 as opposed to the proposed $300,000 in St Lucia. The St Lucian Government are still to approve a selection of real estate projects for this investment route and this is expected in the first half of 2017.

Second passports in both commonwealth countries will enable investors to travel freely to over 118 countries including the EU Schengen zone and also the UK. Visa free travel to other popular destination such as Hong Kong and Singapore is also a major benefit for many. The whole process will take just 3- 4 months to obtain citizenship in either country making them the quickest citizenship by investment options on the market.

If you would like to find out more about either option in Dominica or St Lucia, please do not hesitate to contact our experts today.

Hungary To End Investor Visa Programme

January 16th, 2017   •   Bonds, Schengen Travel   •   Comments Off on Hungary To End Investor Visa Programme   

Hungary Citizenship Investment The Hungarian government has announced the closure of its investor visa programme on 31st March 2017. Applicants wishing to invest in the programme and gain permanent residency in Hungary must submit their applications by this date.

The Hungarian programme was launched in 2012 and requires an investment of just €300,000 into government bonds. The scheme is one of the quickest life-long Permanent Residency programmes in Europe, and after all the correct paperwork is submitted, applications can be approved in just 30 days. Not only does the scheme allow investors the freedom of travel throughout the Schengen zone, there are also no minimum stay requirements. The government guarantees to return the investment in full after 5 years, making this programme extremely interesting.

The move by the Hungarian government to close the scheme is a reminder to potential applicants of any such programmes that these are often transitory and rules may be changed or programmes closed at short notice. The Hungarian closure follows news that the USA EB5 residency investment programme, also subject to amendment by the US Congress could see its qualifying limit raised from $500,000 to $1.3 million in April.

Any clients considering a residency or citizenship investment programme are advised to contact our consultants for up to date news and advice. Applications for the Hungarian programme must be submitted to our office by Monday 6th March in order to meet the processing deadline.

Key Points:

– Quickest permanent residency programme in Europe;
– Full return on investment after 5 years;
– Life-long permanent residency;
– Spouse, dependent children, dependent parents (no age restrictions) can all be included;
– No minimum stay requirements;
– No tax obligations for non-residents;
– Permitted to reside permanently in Hungary;
– Visa free travel to all countries in the schengen zone;
– Applications approved within 30 days;
– Set up a business in Hungary and take advantage of 9% corporation tax
– Total amount: €360,000 (€300,000 investment + €60,000 application and processing fee).


Dominica Amends Age Requirements for its Citizenship by Investment Programme

December 13th, 2016   •   Citizenship, Investor Visa, Passport, Schengen Travel   •   Comments Off on Dominica Amends Age Requirements for its Citizenship by Investment Programme   
Dominica Amends Age Requirements for its Citizenship by Investment Programme

Dominica is just one of a selection of Caribbean islands offering a cost effective Citizenship by Investment programme and is one of the fastest programmes in the world to obtain a second passport.  As part of the British Commonwealth, a Dominican passport will allow investors the ability to visa free travel to over 100 countries worldwide including the UK and the European Schengen zone. All this can be issued as quickly as 3 – 4 months.

Dominica has just recently amended its programme to include some great new advantages. One of the main improvements is that the age limit for children has been increased from 25 years old to 28 years old.  Grandparents can also be included and the age limit has been decreased from 65 years old to 55 years old, resulting in a more flexible scheme for those wishing to include the whole family one application.

Investors can choose from two main options to obtain a second passport:

  • A non refundable donation to the government at $100,000 per single applicant + fees.
  • Or an investment in real estate, starting from $220,000 + fees.

The government fees associated with a real estate investment are now as follows:

  • Children above the age of 18 years old but younger than 28 years old – $25,000.
  • Elderly dependents (Grandparents)- $25,000.

We advise that investors who are considering the Caribbean options for a second passport to also review the other Citizenship by Investment schemes available in St Kitts, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda.

La Vida  Golden Visas can assist with both the donation and real estate options for these programme. Please note for real estate you must invest into a government approved project. The Jungle Bay Resort is a very popular choice for our investors.  To view our real estate projects in the Caribbean, follow this link for Real Estate Options.

Cyprus Prepares to Join Schengen

April 30th, 2015   •   Cyprus, Investor Visa, Passport, Residency, Schengen Travel   •   Comments Off on Cyprus Prepares to Join Schengen   

Clients investing €300,000 for residency in Cyprus will soon benefit from being able to travel across the Schengen zone in Europe.

Cyprus has begun preparations to join Schengen which it hopes to achieve by August 2016. Before the island becomes a full member of the visa-free area there are a number of assessments that need to be completed including air boarders, visa control, police co-operation and personal data protection.

The Schengen Agreement has led to the creation of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area. Currently, 22 of the 28 EU member states participate in the Agreement. Of the six EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area, four – Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus, are legally obliged and wish to join the area, while the other two – Ireland and the United Kingdom maintain opt-outs.

In addition, all four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – have also signed the Schengen Agreement, even though they are outside the EU. One of the main benefits of being part of the agreement is that people can move freely across the boarders without the need for separate visas or passport checks. In the past, tourists entering the EU would have needed a separate visa for each country they wanted to visit. It was designed to promote trade and integration between different nationalities as well as encourage tourism from emerging markets such as China and India.

Those investing €2.5 million for citizenship and an EU second passport are not affected by such changes. A Cyprus  passport allows freedom to live, work and travel throughout all countries in the EU.

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.

Top Choice for Golden Visa Investors

February 8th, 2015   •   Citizenship, Investor Visa, Residency, Schengen Travel   •   no comments   

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.

Greece Improves Investor Residency Programme

November 29th, 2014   •   Citizenship, Family, Real Estate, Residency, Schengen Travel   •   no comments   

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.

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.



Schengen Visa

October 12th, 2014   •   Citizenship, Lifestyle, Real Estate, Residency, Schengen Travel   •   no comments   

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.