Each citizenship or residency by investment program has its cons and pros. Sometimes, people just want to obtain an alternative residency in country of their choice and do not pretend to get a new passport, especially if their home countries do not allow their nationals to have a dual citizenship.
There are some major differences between a citizenship and a residency status. The table below, will give you some insights on them:
Further, let’s overview top 6 residency by investment programs available today on the investment migration market.
The United Kingdom
The UK and, especially its capital London are considered as one of the leading economic and financial centers of the world and it is not a surprise that many successful people are seeking ways to relocate there. The UK boasts high standards of living, strong democracy, preserved the rule of law and opportunities for further growth.
Two of the most popular ways to get a residence permit in the UK are Tier 1 Investor Visa and Innovator Visa schemes. The Tier 1 Investor route is, probably, the most expensive residency by investment program in Europe. The investment threshold starts from GPB 2 million and the issued initial visas for the investor and his/her family members are valid for 40 months, but can be extended two times for two-years and three-years terms.
The Innovator Visas are much less expensive and the minimum investment requirement starts from just GPB 50,000, but the investor is obliged to set up a business in the UK and know English language not less than B2 level.
These type of visa holders can become the UK tax residents as well, if they spend at least 183 days a year in the country. Remarkably, new residents are enjoying tax exemptions for the first 7 years of residency. Taxes are payable only if the profit is generated in the UK. Besides, assets acquired prior attaining tax residency are exempt from taxing.
Greece launched the ‘golden visa’ program in July 2013 and currently it is one of the most successful RBI schemes in world. Although, the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the demand on it, by the end of 2021 the scheme is rebounding and foreigners’ interest toward it is on the rise, according to the official statistics and reports citing investment migration industry experts.
The Greek golden visas can be attained though a real estate investment and there is no residency requirement in Greece to maintain it. The acquired property can be one or several units, providing that the total value is not less than EUR250,000. Investors have to also cover a real estate acquisition tax and registration fees, which stand at 3.09 and 0.6 percent of the property value respectively.
Greek is offering a fixed tax on worldwide income standing at EUR 100,000 for its golden visa holders, if their total investment in Greece is not less than EUR 500,000.
Portugal launched the golden visa program in 2012 and it soon has become one of the most popular RBI schemes in Europe. Foreigners holding Portuguese golden visas have a right of residence in Portugal, enabling them to enter, live, work or study anywhere in the country. Moreover, the program draws a clear path to the Portuguese citizenship. Initially, successful applicants are given residence permit valid for one year, which can be renewed for two successive periods of two years. After 6-year of residency, an application for citizenship can be filed.
To be admissible for Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ program, the applicant must either purchase a real estate with specific value thresholds, or make other types of investment, including financing a business or capital transfers. The general threshold for a real estate acquisition route is EUR 500,000, but it can be lowered to EUR 280,000 in certain cases. The investment must be maintained for a minimum of 5 years from the date the residency permit is granted. The real estate property can be rented out.
Starting from January 1, 2022 properties in Lisbon, Porto and most of the coastal area will be exempt from qualifying under the program.
Applicants are required to make 4 trips to Portugal during the five-year residency period. First two visits to start legal process, make investment and provide biometrics, then two times for renewals of the residency permit. There is no language, educational or managerial experience requirements for program participants.
Cyprus is one of the most attractive destination for investment due to its strategic geographic location, successful economic reforms, highly specialized human capital, the reliable legislative and regulatory framework, the stable tax system, the safety and high standards of living. The government cancelled the Cyprus Investment Program – a citizenship by investment scheme in November 2020, but it still maintains a residency by investment scheme, which enables non-EU nationals to obtain a residence permit, or so-called ‘golden visa’ in Cyprus in exchange of investment.
Together with investors their immediate family members are also eligible to get a residence permit in Cyprus. Cypriot golden visa holders have to visit the island at least once in every two years in order to maintain the residency. After 5 years of legal residence, they can attain a citizenship in Cyprus through naturalization.
The investment threshold for the Cypriot golden visa starts from EUR 300,000, excluding VAT. Along with the investment in a residential realty, starting from March 2021, investment in commercial properties, such as offices, shops or hotels, can also qualify. Together with a main applicant, his/her spouse, unmarried children or in-laws under 25 and parents (in-laws) are also eligible to apply for residence permit. The whole application processing time varies from 2 to 3 months.
There are two other investment options available in the program: investment in the share capital of a Cypriot enterprise and investment in AIF, AIFLNP or RAIF funds.
Investors have also to confirm that they do not intend to be employed in Cyprus, unless at the key position in the enterprise in which they decide to invest.
The Spanish ‘Golden Visa’ program, introduced in October 2013, grants non-EU nationals the possibility to acquire a residency in Spain by investing in real estate or other assets.
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 2 years validity period. For the renewals, the amount of the investment should be retained.
After 5 years ‘Golden Visa’ holders are entitled to apply for permanent resident status, but to maintain permanent residency investor must live at least 6 months per year in Spain.
Spanish legislation allows persons holding residency status for 10 years to apply for citizenship through naturalization.
The investment threshold for a real estate acquisition stands at EUR 500,000, while for a bank deposit or investment in shares of Spanish company, the amount is doubled and is EUR 1 million. As per investment in Spanish government bond, the minimum investment layout starts from EUR 2 million.
The real estate acquisition can include multiple properties and it can be rented out. Investment should be maintained for at least 5 years. Applicants are required first to buy a property and then file an application for ‘Golden Visa’.