Tag: 2016

Programme Review and New Year Developments

December 13th, 2016   •   Real Estate, Residency   •   Comments Off on Programme Review and New Year Developments   

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.

We have highlighted below some of the key developments in 2016 and expectations of change in the year ahead.

Portugal

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.

Cyprus

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.

Hungary

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.

St. Lucia

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.

Portugal Golden Visa Numbers Exceed 2015

July 12th, 2016   •   Portugal Golden Visa   •   Comments Off on Portugal Golden Visa Numbers Exceed 2015   
portugal-golden-visa-statistics-2016

Portugal Golden Visa Statistics

The number of Portuguese Golden Visas granted this year has already exceeded the total issued in the whole of 2015.

That’s according to official figures issued by the immigration authorities in Portugal, SEF.

In total 821 Golden Visas have been approved so far in the six month period up to 30th June 2016. That’s more than the total for 2015 as a whole.

Golden Visa Delays 2015

The 2015 figures took a hit when the government temporarily postponed the programme in mid 2015 while they put new procedures and rules in place to avoid a repeat of the visa issuing fraud that saw the resignation of the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Miguel Macedo. New rules were introduced by September 2015 and visa application processing started again. Investments and visits made by applicants never stopped throughout this period. It was just that the processing of subsequent applications was delayed while new procedures were introduced.

New Fastrack Processing in 2016

By early 2016 a new fast-track procedure was introduced whereby clients submitting their full documentation could be processed for a golden visa in under 3 months. La Vida clients who have invested this year have already benefited from this accelerated golden visa application process.

Record Year for Golden Visas

This year, 2016, looks set to break the previous record of 2014 when a total of 1526 golden visas were issued by SEF. To date 94% of all golden residence permit investments have been into real estate, the remaining 6% into venture capital funded investments or job creation. The programme has so far introduced 2.2 billion Euros in inward investment for Portugal since its launch in 2012.

Most Popular Golden Visa Programme in Europe

Portugal remains the most popular programme for residency investment in Europe. A combination of low cost investment (€500,000), certainty regarding real estate ownership with 100% retained by the investor and no government donation along with a minimum stake of just two weeks every two years and the possibility of citizenship make it Europe’s most successful golden visa programme. Read more on the benefits.

UK Residency by Investment post Brexit

June 28th, 2016   •   Immigration, Investor Visa, Residency   •   Comments Off on UK Residency by Investment post Brexit   

UK votes to leave the EUBrexit Vote

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?

Current Situation

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.

Situation Post Brexit

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.

Free Movement

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.

Post EU Exit

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.

UK Residency

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.