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Investment Residency

Golden Visa Countries

Updated: 26 August 2022

There are several options for citizenship by investment or residency by investment around the world. Each program has its advantages and disadvantages, sometimes making it difficult to choose among them. There is no “one size fits all” solution. It ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

As citizenship by investment schemes become more and more popular, new residency by investment programs emerge. This makes the market more competitive and increases the variety. In this article, we’re going to explain what Golden Visa is and which countries offer this scheme.

What You Will Find in This Article

What Is a Golden Visa

Golden Visa is a permit that allows individuals and their dependent family members to get residency in a country. Today many European countries offer Golden Visa programs to individuals who are looking to get residency, and eventually even citizenship.

Although the required investment amounts vary, Golden Visa schemes are typically based on real estate acquisition, investment fund subscription, capital transfer, or donation. Once you decide on your investment type, you can start your application process as the main applicant. 

Most Golden Visa programs allow family inclusion which means that you’re able to include your immediate family members. Some countries also allow the inclusion of grandparents and parents-in-law.

What makes the Golden Visa so attractive is that it doesn’t require you to move to the country you’re getting a Golden Visa. If you have business interests in your home country and are planning to get a Golden Visa just as a “Plan B”, note that you can keep your status only by visiting the country on a required frequency.

Golden Visa schemes might lead to citizenship depending on the country’s residency requirements. In some countries, it’s five years. In some, you might be eligible only after 10 years of full-time residency.

The below table gives a quick wrap-up of Golden Visa countries and their requirements.

ProgramPortugalGreeceMaltaSpainTurkey
TypeResidency by InvestmentResidency by InvestmentCitizenship by InvestmentResidency by InvestmentCitizenship by Investment
Minimum investment Amount€280,000 €250,000 €690,000€500,000$400,000
Application process6+ months2-3 months6-8 months2-3 months3-4 months

Golden Visa Program Requirements

Countries with a Golden Visa scheme have their own set of requirements. However, there are some basic requirements such as:

  • Having a clean criminal record
  • Proving that you’ll use your own funds to make the investment
  • Keeping the investment for a certain period of time (time may vary depending on the country)
  • Demonstrating that you’ve acquired your funds legally

Some countries might require you to show that you have a certain amount of net worth, separate from the amount you’re going to invest.

How To Get a Golden Visa

The first step in the Golden Visa application is to decide on your investment criteria. While real estate acquisition is the most popular route, the capital transfer is getting a lot of attention, too. Some Golden Visa schemes also include options such as fund investment, job creation, and donation. 

Once you decide on your investment criteria, you can start your application. The processing time for a Golden Visa is two to nine months.

If you’re planning to make a Golden Visa application, it’s wise to speak to professionals before you commit any funds or make an investment. 


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    Golden Visa Application Process

    The application process for each Golden Visa program differs. However, there are some steps that each program requires. We’ve prepared the below table to give you an understanding of the application process.

    1. Speaking to advisorsYou speak to Golden Visa experts and lawyers to have a better understanding of the process.
    2. Choosing the investmentDepending on your needs and criteria, you choose your investment type.
    3. Submitting the documentsYou prepare all the documents and submit them to your lawyer.
    4. Due DiligenceThe authorities check your eligibility for the program.
    5. Getting your residence permit CardAfter providing biometrics, you receive your first residence card.
    6. Renewal of the residence permitDepending on the program, you apply for renewal after one to five years.
    7. Citizenship applicationIf your chosen program is a residency by investment scheme, you can be eligible for citizenship after a certain period of time.

     

    Golden Visa Countries

    Today many countries in Europe offer Golden Visa programs. Visa-free travel in the Schengen Zone, access to the EU market, and quality education services make European Golden Visa programs very popular.

    Portugal

    Portugal’s Golden Visa program, launched in 2012, is one of the most popular residency by investment programs in Europe. Provided that you’re not a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland citizen, you can apply for the program through a qualifying investment in Portugal.

    The Qualifying Investments for Portugal Golden Visa

    1. A minimum investment of €500,000 in any type of property, located anywhere within Portugal (€400,000 if the location is a low-density population area)
    2. A minimum investment of €350,000 in a property at least 30 years old, provided that it will be rehabilitated (€280,000 if the location is a low-density population area)
    3. Capital transfer of €1.5 million to Portugal
    4. Creation of a minimum of 10 full-time jobs in a registered Portuguese company
    5. A minimum investment of €500,000 in a qualifying Portuguese venture capital fund
    6. An investment of €500,000 to scientific or technological research within Portugal
    7. A minimum donation of €250,000 to national heritage, arts, or culture

    Note that if you want to make your real estate investment in Lisbon, Porto, or along the coast, your only option is a commercial property. Residential properties in these locations don’t qualify investors for a Golden Visa.

    Benefits of Portugal Golden Visa

    • You get the right to live and work in Portugal
    • You can travel visa-free within the Schengen Area
    • If you meet the requirements, you can get European citizenship easily
    • You can add your family members to the program, thanks to family reunification
    • You’re required to stay in Portugal only seven days per year to keep your Golden Visa
    • Portugal offers an affordable lifestyle
    • You get the opportunity to invest in an EU country with high potential

    The process of getting a Portugal Golden Visa typically takes around six months.

    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by Investment No

    Spain

    The Golden Visa program in Spain was launched in 2013. Spain’s rich culture, delightful cuisine, sunny beaches, and desirable lifestyle makes it a top destination for relocation.  If you’re not a citizen of a country in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland, you can apply for the Spanish Golden Visa program through a qualifying investment.

    The Qualifying Investments for Spain Golden Visa

    1. A minimum investment of €500,000 in Spanish real estate
    2. Capital transfer of €1 million in Spain
    3. A minimum investment of €1 million in a Spanish company
    4. €2 million investment in Spanish government bonds.

    Benefits of Spanish Golden Visa

    • The process is fast
    • You can travel visa-free within the Schengen Area
    • You can live, work, and study in Spain
    • You can include your family members
    • You’re not required to stay in Spain to keep your Golden Visa

    Spain doesn’t require residence for the renewal of the residency permit. It only requires the residents to enter the country at least once every year. There is, however, a residency requirement for Spanish citizenship.

    Spain’s Golden Visa process typically takes one to two months.

    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by InvestmentNo

    Greece

    Launched in July 2013, the Greek Golden Visa program grants a five-year residency visa through an investment in the country. If you’re above the age of 18, a non-EU citizen, and have a clean criminal record, you can apply for the program.

    The Qualifying Investments for Greece Golden Visa

    1. €250,000 investment in Greek real estate
    2. €400,000 investment in Greek government bonds; bonds or shares of real estate investment companies in Greece; or shares and bonds of venture funds and private equity which have headquarters in Greece

    Benefits of Greek Golden Visa

    • The process is fast and easy
    • You get the right to visa-free travel within all Schengen Area countries
    • You get to right to live in Greece
    • You can access public health services and the education system in Greece
    • You’re required to make a low investment compared to the other programs
    • You can add your spouse, children, parents, and parents-in-law
    • You’re not required to stay in Greece to keep the Golden Visa

    A five-year residency visa is granted, and it’s renewed every five years, as long as the property investment is sustained. Greek citizenship can only be granted after seven years of residency in the country. The application process for the Greece Golden Visa takes around two to three months.

    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by InvestmentNo

    Cyprus

    To benefit from the quickest and most assured path to European citizenship, applicants need to invest €2.15 million in real estate in Cyprus. Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program offers EU citizenship within six months after applying. A passport from Cyprus allows its holder to work, travel, study, and live anywhere in the EU. The citizen can have visa-free access to countries like Germany, France, and the UK. Moreover, the investment amount can be reduced to €500,000 after three years spent in the Cyprus CIP.

    Please note that the Cyprus citizenship by investment program ended at the end of 2020. It’s unclear if it’ll be activated again in the future.

    Malta

    Malta’s Citizenship by Investment Program is a scheme aimed mainly at high-net-worth individuals. Also known as Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP), the program requires a minimum contribution of €600,000 to the national development fund set up by the government. In addition, you’ll be required to invest €10,000 in government-approved financial instruments and commit to a purchase or rent of a property in Malta for five years. The property value for purchased real estate needs to be a minimum of €700,000. After one year of residency, you can apply for Maltese citizenship and obtain a European passport. A Maltese citizen can live, study, and work anywhere in the EU.

    Malta also has a separate residency program. The investment amount is much more affordable; however, note that it doesn’t lead to Maltese citizenship.

    The Qualifying Investments for Malta Citizenship by Investment

    1. Property purchase in Malta that is to be held for a minimum of five years and worth a minimum of €700,000
    2. A residential lease agreement for 5 years signed with a minimum annual value of €16,000

    Donation Requirement

    • Contribution of €600,000 from the main applicant with a requirement of 36 months of residency
    • Contribution of €10,000 to an organization that has received Community Malta Agency approval

    or

    • Contribution of €750,000 from the main applicant with a requirement of 12 months of residency
    • Contribution of €10,000 to an organization that has received Community Malta Agency approval
    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by InvestmentYes

    St. Kitts and Nevis

    St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, launched in 1984, is the first citizenship by investment program. The scheme accepts investments for real estate or donations. To benefit from the program, you’ll be required to make a minimum donation of $150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF). Alternatively, you can make an investment of $400,000 in real estate in St Kitts and Nevis. Once you invest in the program, you can get your passport in a maximum of six months.

    The Qualifying Investments for St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment

    Real Estate Option

    1. $400,000 investment in a real estate development that has received government approval. The property will need to be held for a minimum of five years
    2. $200,000 investment in a real estate development that has received government approval. The property will need to be held for a minimum of seven years

    Donation Option

    • Donate $150,000 for a single principal applicant to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF)
    • Donate $195,000 for a single principal applicant to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF)
    Residency by InvestmentNo
    Citizenship by InvestmentYes

    Antigua and Barbuda

    The citizenship by investment program of Antigua and Barbuda provides an economic passport to investors. There are a few options you can choose to benefit from the program. You can choose to contribute $100,000 to the Antigua National Development Fund. Another option is investing $1.5 million in establishing a business. Alternatively, you can invest $400,000 in a government-approved real estate project (which can be reduced to $200,000 for connected investors). Antigua and Barbuda passport grants visa-free travel to over 150 countries, including the Schengen area. Moreover, the country requires only five days of residence per year. You can get Antigua and Barbuda citizenship and a passport in around six months.

    The Qualifying Investments for Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment

    Real Estate Option

    1. $400,000 investment in a real estate development that has received government approval. The property will need to be held for a minimum of five years

    Donation Option

    • Donate $100,000 to the National Development Fund (NDF)
    Residency by InvestmentNo
    Citizenship by InvestmentYes

    Dominica

    Citizenship by investment in Dominica is available through two options. The first is by making an economic contribution (donation) to the country under the government investor visa program. The second option, available since January 2015, is through real estate investment. With a minimum investment threshold of $100,000, the Dominican passport is among the cheapest. Once you make your application, you can expect to get your passport in three months. 

    Until 1993, it wasn’t possible to gain Dominican citizenship without residing in the country. This rule has been changed by the Dominican government. Through its changes, Dominica’s citizenship by investment program became not only the cheapest but also one of the most flexible options. Holders of Dominican passports can travel freely to around 140 countries, including the UK and the Schengen zone.

    The Qualifying Investments for Dominica Citizenship by Investment

    Real Estate Option

    1. $200,000 investment in a real estate development that has received government approval. The property will need to be held for a minimum of five years

    Donation Option

    • Donate $100,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund
    Residency by InvestmentNo
    Citizenship by InvestmentYes

    Turkey

    To become a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, there are several options investors might benefit from. You can make an investment of at least $400,000 in real estate. You can also invest in a company with a minimum capital of $500,000. Finally, you can deposit $500,000 in State investment instruments or state banks operating in Turkey, provided that you keep the investment for three years. Creating jobs for at least 50 people is another option you can prefer to get  Turkish citizenship by investment.

    The process of Turkish citizenship by investment usually takes around three to six months.

    The Qualifying Investments for Turkey Citizenship by Investment

    • Acquisition of a property with a minimum value of $400,000 and a three-year holding period
    • Purchase of government bonds worth at least $500,000 and held for at least three years
    • Establishment of a business that generates employment for at least 50 people
    • A minimum $500,000 capital investment
    • $500,000 deposit in banks operating in Turkey to be kept for a minimum of three years
    • $500,000 investment in a real estate investment fund share or venture capital investment fund to be kept for a minimum of three years
    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by InvestmentNo

    United States

    Through investment in government-approved projects across the United States of America, investors can get the EB-5 visa. This visa gives permanent U.S. residency. It also provides you with the right to access education, live, work, study, and retire in the USA. You can also get your initial investment back upon the completion of the project. The US government requires you to reside in the USA for at least half of each year.

    As a program with a rather long processing period, you can expect to get your residency in 20-26 months.

    The Qualifying Investments for the United States Immigrant Investor Program

    • $1.05 million investment in a qualifying commercial enterprise
    • $800,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with the promise of creating at least 10 full-time jobs for US citizens within 2 years
    Residency by InvestmentYes
    Citizenship by InvestmentNo

    FAQ

    What country is best for Golden Visa?

    Portugal is frequently cited as the “best” option for people looking to obtain residency through investment. More than 10,000 applicants received their Golden visas as of 2022. In Portugal, people have the option of buying a home or making capital transfer investments. Greece is another good option thanks to its low investment threshold, which is €250,000.

    Who can get a Golden Visa?

    The first requirement for EU Golden visas is that you are non-EU/non-EEA/non-Swiss. Apart from this, the minimum age is 18 for the main applicants. Being able to provide a clean criminal report and bringing the funds from abroad (not from the country of interest) are among other requirements.

    Which country gives the fastest citizenship?

    If you’re going to apply for citizenship by investment, Turkey can be a good option. The country usually grants citizenship in three to four months. Malta citizenship is also attainable in one year if you’re ready to make the qualifying investment. 

    Which country gives free citizenship?

    Free citizenship is only possible through certain circumstances, such as by birth, ancestry, long-term residency or asylum seeking. For example, a US passport is given to children who are born within the country’s borders, even if the parents are non-US. Most countries also grant citizenship if you choose to live there for a minimum of five years. 

    What is the cost of a Golden Visa?

    The cost of a Golden Visa depends on the program you choose. For example, in Portugal, the real estate investment amount starts from €280,000. The application fee is €5,325 per person. There are also residence card renewal fees. 

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