Residency by Investment (RBI) or ‘golden visa’ programs allow foreigners, in exchange for investment, to attain a residence permit in a country where the money is spent. Generally, various investment options are available, but the most popular one is buying real estate. Investors gain a valuable and tangible asset, in addition to residency rights.
Many European countries are running ‘golden visa’ programs with a realty acquisition option to qualify, and true leaders of the market, in terms of total application turnout and raised investment, are Portugal and Greece. Although, many investors are giving preference to Spain, as its ‘golden visa’ program offers a plethora of perks and benefits.
Spain launched the ‘golden visa’ program back in October 2013. The scheme gives the possibility to acquire a residency in Spain in exchange of investment to non-EU nationals. Compared to Greek (with a threshold of EUR 250,000) and Portuguese (with a threshold of EUR280,000) RBI programs, Spanish is relatively expensive, as minimum investment outlay starts from EUR 500,000.
It is possible to obtain a residence permit in Spain by start-up a business there. There is no investment threshold for start-ups, but business projects should bring economic benefits to the state or a particular region of it, create jobs or be in the field of technological innovations.
Using a bank loan or mortgage to finance the investment is prohibited. Property can be owned through a company, provided the applicant is in control of that company. The real estate acquisition can include multiple properties, and it can be rented out. Investment should be maintained for at least 5 years.
Through a real estate investment option, applicants are required first to buy a property and then file an application for ‘Golden Visas.’ Applicants have also to cover additional costs, such as taxes, notary, and legal fees, which can hit 11-12 percent of a realty’s price.
It is possible to purchase land, residential or commercial premises with a value, which exceeds the threshold of EUR 500,000. A ‘golden visa’ applicant should cover at least the threshold amount from his personal funds, while for the rest, raising credit money is allowed.
Along with a real estate investment, the Spanish RBI scheme has options to make a bank deposit, investment in shares of a Spanish company, or acquisition of Spanish government bonds. But the investment thresholds are much higher and stand at EUR 1 million for a bank deposit and investment in business options, while the amount doubles to EUR 2 million in the case of a government bonds option.
The application process is very straightforward and can last up to 60 working days. Applicants are rarely rejected, only in cases of criminal records or money laundering charges.
The initial residence permit will be valid for one year and can be renewed two times with a 2-years validity period. But it is necessary to keep the investment for the renewals. At the same time, ‘golden visa’ holders have to spend at least 7 days a year in Spain in order to keep the residence permit.
The applicant for the Spanish ‘Golden Visa’ program must also be at least 18 years old, have no criminal record for the last 5 years, and hold a public medical treatment or a Spanish private medical insurance. They also should not be refused entry in any country, which has a visa-waiver agreement with Spain. The applicant must also be capable of supporting his or her family during a residency in Spain.
Investors’ family members, including a spouse and children under 18 years of age, can also be included in the RBI application. Children above the age of 18 years and parents can qualify only if they are financially dependent on the main applicant – the investor.
Obtaining a Spanish ‘golden visa’ have many benefits and advantages, including:
- No obligation to become the tax-resident of Spain if spent less than 183 days a year in Spain;
- The Spanish ‘Golden Visa’ allows its holders to live, work and study anywhere in Spain;
- Visa-free travel possibility in the Schengen area countries;
- Access to one of the highly developed economies in the world with a strong domestic market and a secure social and legal system;
- Potential for ROI (Return on Investment) by renting out the real estate;
- Excellent and affordable lifestyle.
Investors interested in obtaining a Spanish ‘golden visa’, as usual, use the services of immigration and relocator firms for accomplishing the RBI application process. They perform all paperwork, while investors need to provide them with the required documentation. Translating and legalizing documents is up to them as well. Investor even does not have to travel to Spain in order to file the ‘golden visa’ application.
After 5 years ‘golden visa,’ holders are entitled to apply for permanent resident status, but to maintain permanent residency, an investor must live at least 6 months per year in Spain.
The Spanish legislation allows persons holding residency status for 10 years to apply for citizenship through naturalization. But it is necessary to pass exams in Spanish language and history. Besides, Spain does not allow dual citizenship, which means that new citizens (except some Latin American countries) have to relinquish their original citizenship.