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.
Cyprus offers citizenship for investment levels of €2.5 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.
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.
Anyone contemplating the UK Tier 1 immigrant visa programme for entrepreneurs needs to take careful advice before embarking on such a project.
For many years the UK Tier 1 was an easy ticket. Invest £200,000 in a business and gain residency in the UK for at least three years. According the the Independent Migration Advisory Committee a total of 13,746 UK Tier 1 investor visas had been issued since 2008 but only 1,580 active companies had been set up by the process. The committee said it had found “substantial evidence of low quality businesses” set up by such entrepreneurs. Read article in Financial Times.
In 2015 the UK government introduced the “Genuine Entrepreneur Test” which has made it far more difficult for investors to meet the criteria of the programme. In a bid to reduce fraudulent applicants a business plan was made compulsory for all investors. Applications are studied in detail by immigration officers and investors need to demonstrate their ability to start a business in the UK and provide evidence of source of funds. The rejection rate for applications recently was around 70%.
For some time now immigration has been a hot topic for the government and was the single key issue that led to the recent referendum on the UK leaving the EU. The recent case of the Canadian family who entered the UK on a Tier 1 investor visa only to have their renewal refused this year is further evidence of a tightening of the rules by the British government.
If the failure rate was 70% before this point then it is only likely to rise further after the historic UK vote on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU. While it is still possible to apply for the programme applicants risk losing substantial fees to lawyers and advisors who typically charge a £15,000 non-refundable fee to submit an application that has little chance of success.
Contrast this with the golden visa programmes elsewhere in Europe where a straightforward investment in real estate is guaranteed to gain a residency visa with 100% success.
It is clear the UK Tier 1 needs a complete overhaul and that the UK government currently has no appetite for immigration in any form. Wealthy investors are being deterred from UK immigration and this is unlikely to change for some years until the UK has finally left the EU and formulated a coherent investor immigration policy.