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Golden Visa Programs

Comparing European Golden Visa Programs

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Published   08:02 AM 16 March 2017
Updated    04:58 PM 14 January 2022

Residency by Investment Programs are offered from countries all over the world, including Canada, the United States, and Europe. Each program is designed by a country’s government to attract ultra high net worth and high net worth individuals (U/HNWI) seeking immigration solutions for themselves and their families. Applicants to these programs are able to receive permanent residency in return for a substantial investment into the chosen country’s economy, and many wealthy foreign nationals are turning to European Golden Visa Residency Programs offered in Malta, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Hungary. 

However, deciding which is best for your circumstances can be challenging when weighing out options between each country.
While each country has its own requirements and benefits, all Golden Visa Residency Programs recognize dual citizenship and provide visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to over 160 countries. In addition, Golden Visa Residency Programs do not require applicants to take a language exam, and with the exception of Malta, do not require a minimum net worth to apply. So which Golden Visa Residency Program is best? Below we will provide an overview of what each Golden Visa Residency Program requires and what benefits they provide eligible applicants and their families.

Greece Residency by Investment Program

Like most Golden Visa Residency Programs, Greece requires applicants to invest a minimum of EUR 250,000 in real estate, which must be held in legal possession and ownership for the duration of the residency. In exchange for the investment, applicants and their families can a receive 5-year residency permit that is renewable indefinitely in as little as 2 months, as well as the right to live, work, and study anywhere in Greece. However, applicants are not obligated to physically reside in Greece, but simply maintain ownership of the property. This means that successful applicants are also granted the freedom to travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival to 171 countries worldwide, including the Schengen region. If an applicant chooses to permanently reside in Greece, citizenship can be obtained after 7 years.

When it comes to Golden Visa Residency Programs, Greece offers the cheapest path to permanent residency through real estate options in Europe.

The Hungarian Investor Residency Bond Program

Unlike its European counterparts, Hungary’s Golden Visa Residency Program applicants to invest EUR 300,000 in Special Hungarian Government Bonds, which must be held for a minimum of 5 years. After the 5-year lockout period, the investment is returned without interest. In return for the investment, applicants and eligible dependents can receive fast-track Hungarian permanent residency in as little as two months with the right to live, work, and study anywhere in the country, plus access to high-quality healthcare. Additional benefits include a special exemption to primary applicants and family members to physically reside in Hungary as well as visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to 167 countries. If permanent residency is the desired option, Hungarian citizenship can be obtained after 8 years of physical residency.

If an affordable risk-free investment is more appealing than purchasing real estate, the Hungarian Golden Visa Residency Program is the perfect fit for foreign nationals wanting to relocate to Europe.

Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP)

Malta is the only Golden Visa Residency Program that requires applicants to have a minimum net worth of EUR 500,000 in addition to a combined investment of EUR 600,000 in government bonds, real estate options, and financial contribution to the Government of Malta. In return for the investment, applicants and family members receive 5-year permanent residency in 3-4 months, which is renewable indefinitely. Although the investment amount is significantly higher than other Golden Visa Residency Programs, residents of Malta are afforded a number of unique benefits including tax exemptions on worldwide income as well as the option to live in one of the safest, most politically and economically stable country in Europe. Even more, Maltese residency grants access to 168 countries, including the Schengen region.

If stability and security is what you and your family are aiming for, Mata’s Golden Visa Residency Program is the way to go.

Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program

Unlike other Golden Visa Residency Programs, Portugal offers applicants a variety of investment options that range from EUR 250,000 to EUR 500,000. However, one of the most sought-after investments is in Portugal’s booming real estate market. For as little as EUR 350,000, eligible applicants can purchase property in the country’s most desirable urban cities, along with visa-free and visa-on arrival access to 172 countries and the Schengen region. Even more, Portugal’s Golden Visa Residency Program only requires successful applicants to physically reside in the country 7 days out of the year, which makes real estate investment the perfect location for a family vacation. For more permanent immigration solutions, Portuguese citizenship can be obtained after 6 years of residency.

If prime European real estate is the angle you’re going for, Portugal’s Golden Visa Residency Program is the recommended option.

Spanish Golden Visa Program

Similar to Portugal, the Spanish Golden Visa Residency Program real estate option has continued to gain popularity for foreign investors. With a minimum investment of EUR 500,000 in Spanish property, eligible applicants and their family can obtain Spanish permanent resident status for life in as little as 2 months, with visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to a whopping 175 countries including the Schengen region. In addition, permanent Spanish residency provides the right to live, work, and study anywhere in Spain as well as access to healthcare services free of charge. While applicants and family members are not obligated to permanently reside in Spain, citizenship can be obtained after 10 years of physical residency.

For foreign nationals seeking greater travel freedom for their investment, the Spanish Golden Visa Residency Program is the right ticket.

Final Thoughts

It is important to keep in mind that Golden Visa Residency Program investment options and requirements vary from country to country. Some might require investing in government bonds, whereas others require investment in real estate, or even require combined investments. The best bet is to contact a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant to discuss your immigration plans so he or she can assist in finding the right program for your needs.

To view our Golden Visa Residency Program comparison table, please click here.

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Related Programs

Portugal Golden Residence Permit
Spanish Golden Visa Program
Residence by Investment in Malta
Greece Residency by Investment Program
Hungarian Investment Immigration Program

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