Golden Visa Programs allow you to get citizenship or residence by investing. These are aimed at well-to-do individuals who wish to get residence in a specific country by investing a significant amount of money or acquiring property. This article will introduce three countries with Golden Visa Programs, and compare the programs available in each: Spain, Portugal, and Greece.
Portugal, the westernmost country in continental Europe, exists peacefully in the shadow of the bigger, more raucous Spain. Portugal, with a strip of shoreline and an interior that can transport you back centuries, nevertheless belongs to a different age in many respects. It emanates history, beauty, and a slower pace of life. People care about their family and friends, and they know their neighbors and the local shops. They are courteous and polite, resolutely old-fashioned, and acutely aware of their rich history. Quiet, cobblestone alleys weave through beach communities, and ancient houses appear weathered and lived-in. It would be misleading to believe that modernity has passed Portugal by—its infrastructure, education system, and healthcare are among the most advanced in the world.
The following are the best options for obtaining an investment visa in Portugal:
- Investment fund of 280.000€ – the property to be acquired must be a rehabilitation project (at least thirty years old and undergoing repair) located in a low population density location, such as the Azores and Madeira Autonomous Regions.
- 350.000€ investment fund – purchased property must be at least 30 years old and in need of refurbishment. Property in metropolitan locations, such as Lisbon or Porto, can be purchased by the investor.
- Investment fund of 500.000€ or more – the investor can buy a new, renovated, or historic house in their favorite location of Portugal, ideal for foreigners searching for a second home.
Spain, Western Europe’s second-largest country, offers a wide variety of landscape, culture, and lifestyle options. It boasts approximately 3,100 miles of coastline, the majority of which is beach. The hills of Northwest Spain are verdant, the temperature is humid and pleasant (similar to Oregon), and the shore is the cold but spectacular Bay of Biscay. Spain’s eastern coast and a portion of its southern coast are bordered by the warm seas of the Mediterranean, while the far-western portions of the country face the Atlantic. The country has a rich and old history, lovely castles, fantastic towns, beaches, mountains, many fiestas, and delicious food. Off-the-beaten-path Spain is a revelation: a courteous, satisfying, and traditional way of life that has survived despite modern intrusions.
The process for residence by investment in Spain generally takes 60 days, with no minimum necessary duration of time in the country to benefit from the privileges given, as long as the investor picks one of the following investment options:
- A minimum of 500.000€ in real estate investment
- A 1.000.000€ investment in Spanish company shares or business.
- An investment of 2.000.000€ in Spanish government bonds
- A 1.000.000€ money transfer into a Spanish bank account
Greece is a large, complex, and visually gorgeous country with sun-drenched islands, towering mountains, busy cities, and ageless customs. It is bright, inviting, and full of surprises, wrapped in the warm embrace of the Aegean Sea: it was the world’s first democracy, dating back to the 5th century B.C. Greece offers everything: beautiful weather all year, inexpensive lodging, delicious food, friendly inhabitants, and fascinating history. Every part of this country exudes relaxed livability, and the list of must-see destinations is endless: Athens, Crete, Delphi, Olympia, Santorini, Skiathos, Meteora, Rhodes, and Corfu are only the beginning.
The following are investment opportunities offered through the Golden Visa Greece program:
- Buy real estate worth 250.000€: this property must be kept for the duration of residency and for a minimum of 5 years.
- Lease real estate worth 250.000€, or a timeshare that must be kept for the term of the residency and for a minimum of 5 years
Residence by Investment Programs Compared
Eligibility for residence by investment differs in each country. Spain comes out as the most expensive among the three, at 500.000€, followed by Portugal at 280.000€. The most affordable is Greece at 250.000€.
In terms of qualifications, here is a list of who qualifies for residence by investment per country:
- Spain: Primary Applicant, spouse, children under 18. Subject to additional criteria: unmarried children over 18 and financially dependent on the primary, dependent parents of the primary applicant.
- Portugal: Primary Applicant, spouse, children under 18, unmarried children aged 18-25 and enrolled in full time study, parents of either spouse if over the age of 66 years old (or 55 and dependent), siblings under the age of 18 years from either spouse or partner if legally responsible.
- Greece: Primary Applicant, spouse, children until 23 y/o, parents and parents in law
All three residence by investment programs allow applicants to live and study in the country. The residency obtained through investment allows individuals to work in Spain and Portugal, but not in Greece. In Spain, there are no visit or residence requirements to maintain residency, but if you want to apply for citizenship, you would have to stay in Spain for more than six months a year. In Portugal, you are required to stay within the country for seven days in your first year, and 14 days during each subsequent year. Greece, on the other hand, does not require applicants to stay in the country for residency.
For citizenship in Spain, you may opt to be a permanent resident in five years. For applicants hailing from former Spanish colonies, citizenship may be granted after two years. Again, residing in Spain for more than six months in a year 6mo+1 day/year is required to obtain Permanent Residency or Citizenship, with a maximum absence of less than 10 months within five years. Those applying for citizenship must also pass a Culture Test and DELE A2 as proof of being a Spanish speaker. Individuals may also opt for Residence status indefinitely as long as they own a qualifying asset.
Portugal also offers Permanent Residence in 5 years, and citizenship in the following 5 years. Applicants must speak Portuguese and demonstrate involvement in the community. Meanwhile, Greece presents a possible road to citizenship in 7-12 years, subject to passing an interview in Greek. One may apply for Residence Status indefinitely if they hold a qualifying asset.
Real estate market
The buying process for real estate takes around two to four months in all three countries. However, in Spain, the Golden Visa is given in approximately one month and the Resident Authorization in two months after the Golden Visa. In Portugal, the Resident Card is received in 11 months, while Greece takes roughly the same time, between 6 to 11 months.
Due to Covid-19, it is not essential to visit Spain in order to get the Golden Visa. The Spanish government will issue a special visa to renew expired residence cards. Likewise, it is not required to travel to Portugal in order to apply for and acquire a Residence Card. In addition, the Portuguese government has halted the issuance of new visa appointments at this time. At the same time, special visas are being issued by Greek officials to people who need to travel to acquire or renew their residency cards.
In case you are looking to apply for a Golden Visa, our specialists at Orience can advise you on investment choices suitable for you. Following that, you will submit the necessary legal papers as well as the residency application. After your application for residence has been reviewed and accepted, you will be awarded a residence permit that will allow you to enjoy the great quality of life that Europe has to offer.