Understanding the Golden Visas

Understanding the Golden Visas

In a world where individuals’ mobility increasingly intersects with investment opportunities, the Golden Visa represents an attractive gateway. At its core, this visa offers individuals—and often their dependants, too—the chance of gaining permanent residency or even citizenship in a foreign country through significant financial investment, such as real estate or investment funds. This combination of mobility and investment opens new horizons and offers benefits such as tax advantages and potentially a golden passport.

As we delve deep into Understanding the Golden Visa, we aim to shed light on what Golden Visas entail, distinguishing between the nuances of residency and citizenship, the various types of investments and their required amounts, and the concept of golden passports. Additionally, we will explore which countries offer these visas, detail the application process, discuss the financial and tax considerations, and highlight the risks associated with citizenship by investment schemes.

Golden visa legislation now exists in many countries across five continents. Over 60% of EU member states have active and functional programs offering different schemes. Popular destinations for golden visas also include Portugal, Spain, Greece, Malta, Australia, Türkiye, Cyprus and UAE.

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is an immigration program that enables foreign nationals to obtain a long-term residence permit in the host country through substantial financial investments. Although some start-up and business visa programs might be considered under Golden Visa schemes, this program is usually, particularly for wealthy individuals seeking to enhance their global mobility and access to favourable living conditions without the need for traditional immigration procedures.

What are the Benefits?

A Golden Visa offers a range of benefits, enhancing lifestyle and business opportunities. These visas primarily allow you to live, work, and study in the host country, providing a pathway to permanent residency and, in many cases, citizenship. For instance, in European countries like Greece and Portugal, after a set period of residence, you may also apply for citizenship, thus expanding your benefits to include ease of travel within the Schengen Area.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for a Golden Visa, you must fulfil specific investment criteria that vary by country but generally include real estate, government bonds, or private equity investments.

Additionally, applicants may need to demonstrate the legal acquisition of the invested funds, maintain the investment for a minimum required period, and have a clear criminal background.

Financial self-sufficiency and adequate health insurance coverage are also commonly required to ensure that applicants do not impose a burden on the host country’s social services.

Can I Bring My Dependants?

Most Golden Visa programs allow you to include your dependents in your application. Dependents typically include your spouse or partner, minor children, and sometimes dependent parents or adult children. This inclusion ensures that families can relocate and reside together, enhancing the attractiveness of the visa for potential applicants. In the UAE, for instance, the inclusion of family members is streamlined with the primary investor’s application, and similar provisions exist in Spain, where the process is designed to be family-inclusive, ensuring that dependents receive residence permits and enjoy benefits like access to education and healthcare.

By understanding the comprehensive benefits, eligibility requirements, and family inclusion policies of Golden Visa programs, you can better assess whether this type of investment aligns with your long-term residency and citizenship goals.

Residency and Citizenship

What Type of Residencies Are Offered?

Golden Visa programs offer different types of residencies based on the country and the nature of the investment. Although the specifics of these programs can vary greatly from one country to another. Some countries may offer immediate permanent residency, while others may require a temporary residency period before you can apply for permanent residency. We will also talk about the concept of Golden Passports further down the road.

How Long Does It Take Until Permanent Residence or Naturalisation?

The amount and duration of residence required also differ greatly. While some countries, like Cyprus, may offer immediate permanent residence upon approval, others may require between 5 and 10 years of residence before permanent residency.

Do You Need to Reside for A Certain Period?

Usually, host countries require some level of residency. While some countries require as little as 7 days in a year, like Portugal, some require you to reside in the host country for most of the year. However, we highly recommend that you be clear about your Golden Visa objectives and understand the difference between Permanent Residency and Citizenship. Your host country might require you to prove continuous stay at the citizenship application stage for a certain period. In contrast, this might not be required to be eligible for a Permanent Residency.

Investment Types and Amounts

Which Types of Investments Are Accepted?

Golden Visa programs across various countries accept a diverse range of investments tailored to meet the economic goals of each nation. Real estate remains the most popular investment type by applicants due to its reliability and potential for appreciation. For instance, in countries like Cyprus, Greece, and Malta, purchasing or leasing property is a fundamental aspect of their Golden Visa programs. This investment not only secures residency but also offers potential rental yields and long-term capital gains for the applicant while contributing to the host country’s real estate and housing market.

Other forms of investments include government bonds, private equity, company shares, bank deposits and art and culture. Specific programs require unique contributions, such as investing in national heritage or scientific research or creating employment opportunities by establishing a business that meets certain criteria.

In Switzerland, annual tax contributions are required; in Austria, applicants must demonstrate specific language competencies. The diversity of these requirements highlights each country’s tailored approach to attract foreign investment while benefiting their economies.

What Amount of Investment is Needed?

The required investment amount varies significantly depending on the country and the type of investment. For example, the Thailand Privilege Residence Program starts at approximately USD 25,000, while the Latvia Residence by Investment Program requires an investment of EUR 60,000. On the higher end, the Singapore Global Investor Program demands SGD 2.5 million from ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and the US requires $1,050,000 as a general requirement or $800,000 for investments in rural areas and areas with high unemployment levels.

European countries often have substantial real estate investment thresholds. Spain, for instance, requires a minimum of €500,000 in real estate investment and Greece €400,000.

By understanding the types of investments accepted and the financial commitments required, you can strategically plan your investment to align with your residency and citizenship goals in the chosen country.

Please bear in mind that these numbers and types of accepted investments may change in line with the host country’s local immigration laws.

Which countries offer Golden Visas?

Golden Visa programs are available globally, spanning various continents and catering to various investment preferences. Here is a list of the Golden Visa countries:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, and Vanuatu. Please remember to check the most up-to-date lists before you make a step towards investing for visa purposes.

Also, it would be best to consider business visa programs. When business-related investments are included in traditional Golden Visa programs, this list expands, broadening the definition of a Golden Visa.

By choosing a Golden Visa program, you can enhance your global mobility, access better living conditions, and, in many cases, pave the way towards acquiring citizenship in the host country.

Application Process

When applying for a Golden Visa, the documentation required varies by the specific program and country. However, common documents include:

  • The application form
  • Recent passport-sized photos, 
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Civil documents such as birth certificates
  • Family status documents to prove your relationship with your dependants 
  • A criminal record clearance
  • Proof of sufficient personal economic funds
  • A comprehensive health insurance
  • Comprehensive documentation supporting the type and amount of your investment: A certification from the Land Registry that matches the property purchased for real estate investments. If your investment is in capital, documents such as a statement of investment from the Registrar of Foreign Investments or certificates from financial institutions or banks.
  • Proof of payment for some amount of application fee depending on the country

How Long Does it Take? What are the Processing Times Like?

The processing times for Golden Visas can vary significantly depending on the country and the specifics of the application. On average, most applications are processed within about 8 weeks; however, depending on the host country’s procedures, it can take up to several months.

How Can Immigration Connection Assist You with Your Golden Visa Application?

Our expert advisers will help you understand the rules and procedures of the Golden Visa program in your chosen destination, ensuring you make informed decisions about residency, permanent residency, and citizenship options.

We provide step-by-step guidance to comply with all procedures and evidential requirements fully. We involve local professionals from our network, where a specialist and licensed adviser must be involved.

Our consultation services offer a clear road map detailing the application process, eligibility criteria, required documents, and related procedures for the host country’s Golden Visa program.

We guide you through every step of your application, reducing stress and ensuring a smooth journey. Our services include advice sessions and a comprehensive application consultancy package.

Contact us for a free consultation by filling out the form for a pre-screening.

FAQ

A Golden Visa is an immigration program that allows foreign nationals to obtain a long-term residence permit in the host country through substantial financial investments, such as real estate or investment funds. This visa provides several benefits, including living, working, and studying in the host country. It also often offers a pathway to permanent residency, citizenship, tax advantages, and enhanced global mobility. For example, in European countries like Greece and Portugal, you can apply for citizenship after a certain period, allowing easy travel within the Schengen Area.

Yes, most Golden Visa programs allow you to include your family members in your application. Dependants typically include your spouse or partner, minor children, and sometimes dependent parents or adult children. This ensures that families can relocate and reside together. For instance, in the UAE, family members are included with the primary investor’s application. Similarly, in Spain, the process is designed to be family-inclusive, ensuring dependents receive residence permits and access to benefits like education and healthcare.

Golden Visa programs accept a range of investments tailored to each country’s economic goals. Real estate is the most popular investment type due to its reliability and potential for appreciation. Other accepted investments include government bonds, private equity, company shares, bank deposits, and contributions to national heritage or scientific research. Extensive research into the advantages, disadvantages, and potential risks is strongly recommended, and clear objectives should be defined at the outset of the journey.

The processing times for Golden Visas can vary significantly depending on the country and the specifics of the application. On average, most applications are processed within about 8 weeks, but depending on the host country’s procedures, it can take several months. Our expert advisers at Immigration Connection will guide you through the timeline and help ensure all necessary documents are submitted promptly, making the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

By understanding the comprehensive benefits, eligibility requirements, and family inclusion policies of Golden Visa programs, you can better assess whether this type of investment aligns with your long-term residency and citizenship goals.

The Greek Golden Visa program is considered one of Europe’s easiest and most cost-effective paths to citizenship. Due to their relative accessibility, the Golden Visa programs in Spain, Malta, Türkiye, UAE, and Portugal are also popular and advantageous.

While Golden Visas offer various advantages such as residency rights, access to education and healthcare, tax benefits, and potential returns on investment, they also come with risks. These include the possibility of investment loss, exposure to political instability, and complex tax consequences.

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