Golden visa or passport? What each country has to offer in the EU

Золотая виза или паспорт: что страны ЕС могут предложить иностранным инвесторам?
17 October 2020 Liza Medvetskaya

There is much competition between EU countries to attract investment through naturalization plans. However, there are significant differences in what each one offers and its benefits compared to the Cyprus Investment Program, which ends ingloriously on November 1.

As it turns out though the revelations, the Cypriot program was very generous. However, it worked for a long time without really reliable criteria and eventually became a pole of attraction for harmful elements, in addition to the real investors who responded.

According to the research, the European states have divided investment plans of this type into two categories: Granting citizenship to investors ("golden passport") and issuing residence permits to investors ("golden visa").

Although initially very few residency programs were in place in the early 2000s, the financial crisis that began in 2007 led more Member States to introduce such programs or revive older ones.

This trend has continued for the last ten years. Similar programs currently exist in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. Hungary suspended the program in April 2017.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta introduced respectively wider (revised) programs in 2005, 2007, and 2013, intending to attract investment from third-country nationals through the granting of citizenship. These programs are a new form of naturalization. They are systematically granted citizenship of the Member State concerned, provided that the required investment is made, and specific criteria are met. Until recently, a total investment of € 1 million was needed in Bulgaria as part of the rapid implementation of a citizenship program for investors. A minimum investment of € 2 million is required in Cyprus and ownership of property worth at least € 500,000. In Malta, it is necessary to pay € 650,000 to a national investment fund, as well as an investment of 150,000,

Malta is together with Cyprus, the bad guys of Europe, in the issue of passports. Like us, it was targeted for the ease with issued the passport, resulting in the acquisition of Maltese passports, with straightforward procedures, by criminals and wanted persons. 

Job creation is required in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Croatia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and contributions to the economy in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Spain. More specifically, the criterion of "contribution to the economy" takes several forms: it must "concern an economically disadvantaged area" in Bulgaria, the investment must be made "for the benefit of the country or a certain region" in the Czech Republic, Greek law provides for "strategic investment Without defining the concept, Spain requires a "general interest" business plan.

Золотая виза или паспорт: что страны ЕС могут предложить иностранным инвесторам?

What is happening in other countries

The Irish investment program started in 2012. It offers the right to settle in Ireland under certain conditions, and after, first, the interested party invests € 1 million in an approved investment fund of the country. Second, he must prove that he has a fortune of at least € 2 million. Portugal does not offer citizenship, but the so-called golden visas. The prerequisite is to invest € 500,000, usually through the purchase of land or housing. The visa is valid for two years, and, to be renewed, the holder must stay in Portugal for at least 15 days. The program in Spain is similar, which started in 2013. An investment of € 500,000 is required in real estate, with the difference that here the visa concerns the whole family, and there are no conditions for its renewal. In Spain, the visa holder (renewed every two years) can obtain the right of permanent establishment for five years and apply for naturalization at ten, as would any other foreigner. The only difference is that both the residence permit and citizenship can be obtained without living in Spain.

Greek program

With a minimum investment of € 250,000 in the real estate market, Greece maintains the cheapest program in Europe. It gives applicants the right to obtain, sometimes in just 40 days, residence in the country, which is renewed every five years, provided that the applicant has not sold the property. The right to consider a naturalization application is granted only after seven years of establishment.

Illegal activities

The European Commission carries out a horizontal check to see if the fourth directive on combating money laundering has been transposed into national law. Credit institutions, lawyers, and real estate agents must apply due diligence to the client. Obliged entities must report suspicious transactions to their country's financial intelligence unit and are prohibited from informing customers about reporting suspicious transactions.

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