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Rise of the Golden Visa Residency Programs: What, Who, and Where?

portugal program | EU Golden Visas | EU Real Estate | Cyprus Residence Permit | Portugal Golden Visa Program | Cyprus Residency Program | Golden Residence Permit Program | Golden Visa Residency Programs | European Real Estate Investment |
May 17, 2017

Rise of the Golden Visa Residency Permit: What, Who, and Where?

These days, “Golden Visa” programs are on the rise, and many Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programs in North America or the Caribbean are eager to call their respective programs a Golden Visa. However, the truth is a “Golden Visa” refers to European Residency by Investment opportunities (usually in the form of real estate or property options) for foreign nationals that are offered by the country’s respective government. In exchange for a substantial capital investment into the economy, countries such as Portugal, Spain, Greece, Malta, and Cyprus grant the investor and their immediate family a Golden Visa residency permit. These Golden Visa residency permits grant the holder rights to travel visa-free among participating European Union (EU) nations or Schengen region, as well as provide visa-free access to more than 165 countries worldwide.

In addition to greater travel freedom, there are many reasons why investors today are choosing European Golden Visa programs. For instance, benefits of obtaining a European Golden Visa permit include the right to public education, medical care, or even offer generous tax breaks in countries such as Malta.

Like the United States and many Caribbean nations, European Golden Visa programs were created as a means to strengthen the economy through development or government contributions, particularly as the world was struck by the global financial crisis of 2008. Without question, the economies of participating European Golden Visa countries have shown improvement since their launch. Portugal and Greece, for instance, have both experienced an economic turn-around since their Golden Visa programs were introduced in 2012 and 2013 respectively, whereas Hungary recently retired its Golden Visa program* due to the country’s strong economic situation.

*As of March 31, 2017, the Hungarian Residency Bond Program was suspended by the government until further notice. Applications submitted prior to this date will still be processed.

Who is Investing in European Golden Visa Programs?

Day by day, the term European Golden Visa is coming up in conversations in meetings, phone calls, newspapers, and coffee shops amongst Arabs nationals globally. Since the outbreak of conflict in Egypt and surrounding countries of Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, the number of Arab passport holders seeking alternative citizenship and residency solutions has risen significantly. With the recent travel bans due to safety issues, Arab applicants are now considering European Golden Visa residency programs in greater numbers.

Furthermore, visa restrictions and inability to travel for business purposes has motivated many business people to request residency abroad without having to relocate from their country, with European residency being the most admired.

That goes to say, the biggest pool of interest in European Golden Visa programs comes from foreign nationals residing in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, which largely attributed to socio-political issues as mentioned above. In countries such as Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, European Golden Visa programs offer practical residency solutions to citizens facing government restrictions or displacement due to civil war.

Chinese investors have also become one of the largest percentages of foreign investors in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, which launched its own Golden Visa residency program in 2014.

What are the Top Golden Visa Programs Foreign Nationals are Investing In?

1. Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Program

When it comes to European Golden Visa programs, Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit is at the top of the list, with more applications submitted to the government’s official Residence Permit for Investment Activities (ARI) Program than any other European nation. Portugal’s Golden Visa Program is the most popular option for Arab nationals seeking European Residency. Since 2015, Lebanon is the number one country in the Middle East for those applying for Portuguese residency permits.

Portugal was the first to offer a Golden Visa in Europe in 2012, though it did not initially generate much interest from foreign investors. Today, the popularity of Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit is evident in numbers, with more than EUR 870 million generated from the program in 2016 alone—a EUR 4 million increase from 2015, according to the most recent report from Immigration and Borders authority (SEF). Minimum investment amounts for Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit begins at EUR 500,000 (or EUR 350,000*), with the majority of foreign investments being made into the country’s booming real estate market in metropolitan areas of Lisbon, Sintra, or Porto.

*If an applicant to Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Program is willing to purchase a real estate property that was constructed at least 30 years ago, or is in an urban area in Portugal, then the minimum investment option is only EUR 350,000.

2. Cyprus Permanent Residence Program

Similar to Portugal, Cyprus has climbed the ranks in Residency by Investment schemes since the program first began. The island’s position in the eastern Mediterranean makes Cyprus a prime destination for visitors and investors alike, and has undoubtedly given rise to its status among affordable European Golden Visa programs.

According to Cypriot authorities, the Cyprus’ Permanent Residence Program has amassed EUR 4 billion in revenue since the program was introduced. and has substantially outperformed neighboring Greece’s Golden Visa residency program over the last three years.

Investors can obtain a Cypriot residency permit by investing a minimum of EUR 300,000 in a real estate property (excluding V.A.T.), which qualifies as two private residences (apartments or houses), or a private residence and a shop, or a private residence and an office.

Final Thoughts

The concept of a second citizenship or residence is that no single establishment will have the upper hand over you, your family’s life, or your net worth. Obtaining a second residency through investment can protect your family, freedom, and expand your business horizons.

With the advent of globalization, the process of human migration has adapted to international market trends regarding citizenship and residency. This is certainly the case when it comes to European Golden Visa programs offered to foreign investors by countries such as Portugal, Cyprus, and Greece, to name a few. In exchange for an economic investment, foreign nationals and their immediate family can obtain an EU residence permit which grants holders a number of benefits including greater travel freedom all over the world.

As one of the well-known companies for Citizenship and Residency by Investment in the Middle East, QICMS ( is trusted to help applicants find the best residency solution for their needs. Contact our office today to discuss which European Golden Visa program is right for you and your family.

For more information on Residency by Investment Programs, please click here.

For a comparison of European Golden Visa Programs, please click here.

For more information on Portugal’s Golden Visa Residence Permit Program, please click here.

For more information on Cyprus’ Permanent Residence Program, please click here.

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