In Which Countries Can You Buy Residence Permits?
There are many countries where foreigners are able to “buy” residence permits. This gives them the chance to live and work in the country and can also lead to permanent residency and even citizenship.
Buying a residence in this way is often known as a “Golden Visa”, allowing those with the funds to purchase the residency permit, rather than having to fit the requirements that a traditional residence permit might need.
Below, we look into what exactly a Golden Visa is, how you can qualify, and which countries that offer Golden Visas.
What are Golden Visas?
A Golden Visa is a programme whereby individuals make a significant investment in a foreign country and are granted a residence permit in return.
The Golden Visas will grant the investor residence in the country but not necessarily citizenship. However, many countries offer citizenship to foreigners that have lived in the country for a period of time, often between one to 10 years. So, an investor could gain citizenship for the country through these means.
Many Golden Visas will require that the investment is held for a set period, usually around five years. The Golden Visas will also typically allow the investor’s family to move to the country too. Golden Visas offered by countries in the EU will also allow the holder free movement between other EU/Schengen Zone countries.
What are the requirements for a Golden Visa?
The investment made for the Golden Visa can be for a range of different things, but each country will have specific conditions. Some may require investment in real estate in the country, others may require investment in a public scheme, and some may require investment in local stocks or shares. There will usually be a choice offered to the investor.
Most countries will undertake certain checks for Golden Visas. This will include ensuring the money that will be invested is owned by the individual and has been acquired by legal means. Usually, the investor will have to undergo a criminal records check and will need to prove they have enough funds to support themselves and their family for the time they will be living in the country. This often includes a requirement for international healthcare.
Which countries offer Golden Visas?
Many countries all over the world offer Golden Visas or residence by investment. Below are some of the most popular options.
Spain offers a residence permit to those who:
- Invest €500,000 in real estate OR
- Invest €1,000,000 in shares of Spanish companies OR
- Buy at least €2,000,000 of government bonds OR
- Open a deposit in a Spanish bank of at least €1,000,000 OR
- Start a new business in Spain with a minimum investment of €1,000,000.
It is not necessary for the investor to live in Spain for any amount of time to qualify for the Golden Visa and it can be renewed every two years.
If the individual wants to be eligible for permanent residence or citizenship, they will need to live in Spain. After five years, they will qualify for permanent residence and after 10 years in Spain, they will be eligible for citizenship.
Greece offers a residence permit to those who:
- Invest €250,000 in real estate OR
- Buy at least $400,000 of Greek securities or bonds OR
- Open a deposit in a Greek bank of at least €400,000.
It is not required for the investor to live in Greece to qualify for the Golden Visa. The visa can be renewed every five years as long as the investment is retained. Those that live in Greece full-time for seven years will be able to apply for citizenship. However, they will need to take a citizenship test which includes speaking fluent Greek.
Malta offers a residence permit to those who:
- Make a contribution of €98,000 to the government AND
- Make a donation of €2,000 to a Maltese NGO AND
- Invest in property, with at least €10,000 per year for five years if renting or a purchase of at least €275,000.
There is no requirement to live in Malta to qualify for the residence visa and investors and their dependents will gain free movement throughout EU countries.
Turkey offers citizenship as well as residence to those who:
- Invest $400,000 in real estate OR
- Invest $500,000 in Turkish business OR
- Open a deposit in a Turkish bank or at least $500,000 OR
- Buy at least $500,000 in government bonds OR
- Invest $500,000 in an investment fund.
Prices are set to US dollars due to the volatility of the Turkish currency.
There is no minimum stay required to qualify for the Turkish Golden Visa. Investors and their dependents will be eligible to live and work in Turkey and also travel to 125 countries visa-free with a Turkish passport.
The USA offers residency to those who:
- Invest at least $800,000 in a US business that covers at least 10-full time jobs
The USA Golden Visa is known as the EB5 visa. It gives the investor a green card, allowing them to live in the US permanently. After five years, green card holders can apply for citizenship and undergo a citizenship test.
There are a number of Caribbean countries that offer residency by investment. This includes Dominica, which offers residency and citizenship to those who:
- Donate $100,000 for a single applicant or €200,000 for a family to Dominica’s National Development Fund OR
- Invest $200,000 in a government-approved real estate project.
Investors and their dependents will be able to live and work in Dominica through the investment programme, but there is no requirement to stay in the country.
St Lucia is another Caribbean country that offers citizenship through investment. It requires applicants to:
- Donate $165,000 for a single applicant or $190,000 for a family to the National Economic Fund OR
- Invest $200,000 in real estate OR
- Deposit $300,000 into a refundable Government Bond and hold for at least five years.
Investors and their dependents will gain full citizenship and a St Lucian passport. They will have the option to live and work in St Lucia but there is no minimum requirement to stay.
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