Almost half of the European Union member states have launched their residency by investment programs or Golden Visa schemes for third-country nationals. All of them have advantages and of course disadvantages, the most important common benefit of all schemes is the visa-free travelling in the EU. But some programs are performing better than the others. All these solutions were created for the same wealthy clients from China, the Middle East or Russia. It is really difficult to decide which program is the best because there are huge differences between these in prices, processing times, etc. Below we list those countries in Europe that offer Residency and citizenship.
Hungarian Residency Bonds Program
This program is considered as the fastest and cheapest residency by investment solution in the EU. The applicant has to buy the residency bonds from an official agent for the face value of EUR 300,000. After 5 years the Hungarian government pays the whole amount back. The entire process takes only 8 working days and the applicant receives his/her temporary residence permit at once. It takes only six more months and the permanent residence permit can be obtained. Interesting thing is that under the Hungarian Law of Immigration, the residents do not have to stay the minimum 183 days in Hungary, but have to maintain an official address in the country.
Hungary is a member of the EU and Schengen zone which also means visa-free travel to the USA and Canada. You gain visa-free travel throughout the EU Schengen area and can apply for a European passport after 5 years. Hungary is a straightforward programme and in most cases will not require a visit to the country.
This program was launched one year ago and already more than 1100 bonds have been sold. There are no additional costs for the family members of the applicant.
Malta Global Residency Program
This program builds on the success of the former Maltese programs. The main benefit is the residents don’t have to pay tax on foreign-sourced income not remitted to Malta. The island nation has over 60 double tax treaties. The tax rate for foreign source income remitted to Malta is flat 15%, for local personal, business or investment income the tax rate is 35%. There is a minimum annual tax (per family) of EUR 15,000. The applicant also has to buy or rent a property in Malta. This can be as cheap as EUR 220,000 on the island of Gozo, or an annual rental of EUR 8,750 also in Gozo. On the other hand, the resident must stay at least 183 days in Malta.
Also, Malta has a citizenship programme leading to a second passport within a year. However, there are a number of restrictions with Malta, in particular showing ties and commitment to the island, maintaining property and screening interviews. For those willing to maintain such connections citizenship is available at a total cost of around €1.2 million. But note €650,000 of that figure is a “contribution” to the government. That money is not returned.
Portuguese Golden Visa
Portugal’s Golden Visa program was launched in October 2012, since then the residency scheme generated almost 1 billion euros for the budget. The most popular investment option for the Golden Visa is purchasing a property with a minimum value of EUR 500,000. The other possibilities are investing at least EUR 1 million or creating a minimum of ten permanent jobs. This scheme is very popular and gives freedom of travel throughout the EU Schengen visa zone. After six years applicants and their families can apply for citizenship and hence a second passport allowing you and your family to travel, work, live and study anywhere in Europe.
Spain golden visa
Spain offers similar costs and benefits to Portugal but with one major difference. It is not possible to get citizenship and a second passport unless you reside in Spain for 10 years full time. It is why Portugal is currently issuing 2,000 golden visas a year compared to less than 100 in Spain.
Cyprus Residency / Citizenship by Investment
Investment options from EUR 200,000 for European Residency. Cyprus is offering foreign investors investment programs that can lead to permanent residency in order to stimulate the country’s economy through job creation and capital.
The Cypriot immigration policy and legal framework now enable non-EU applicants to obtain Cypriot residency on an expedited basis, with approvals granted as fast as three months, and there is no presence or residence required before/after approval.
Greece’s Golden Visa
As the Greek real-estate market arrived at its bottom, the government lowered the land transaction tax and created the Golden Visa programme. By participating in the Greek Golden Visa programme, non-EU citizens buying a property worth 250.000 euros or more can obtain a five-year residency. The permit can be changed to permanent residency permit after the five year period of residence. The most popular part of Greece for the real estate investment is Rhodes, where the luxury sector’s prices are still 10-20% cheaper than the pre-crisis levels.
Latvia Real Estate Investment option
Applicants can buy a real estate in Latvia and they will obtain a temporary residence permit in Latvia, valid for five years. The value of the real estate must be at least EUR 250,000 and there is a 5% state fee also. It takes about 3 to 5 months to receive the residence permit. The permanent residence permit can be obtained only after 5 years of holding the temporary residence permit.