CITIZENSHIP: What are golden visas? Spain moves to axe permits in blow to non-EU citizens including Brits

As published on: au.news.yahoo.com, Monday 15 April, 2024. 

Spain has confirmed it plans to scrap its ‘golden visa’ scheme in a blow to wealthy Brits who may have been planning to capitalize on the plan.

The Spanish PM, Pedro Sanchez, explained to reporters that by scrapping the plan, he hoped to expand access to affordable housing across the country.

Spain’s golden visa scheme previously allowed non-EU citizens to gain residency just by investing at least 500,000 euros in Spanish real estate without taking a mortgage out.

Most of these golden visas are handed out to real estate investors, which Sanchez said was stressing the country’s housing market.

"Today, 94 out of every 100 such visas are linked to real estate investment... in major cities that are facing a highly stressed market and where it's almost impossible to find decent housing for those who already live, work and pay their taxes there," he explained.

Given that Britain is no longer in the European Union, rich Brits who were thinking of investing in Spanish real estate may be impacted by the scheme’s end.

What are golden visas?
Golden visas ultimately allow high-net-worth people to bypass regular visa requirements, helping them enter a country and gain residency or even citizenship.

While regular Brits now only have 90 days to visit Europe and often have to jump through multiple hoops to secure more permanent visas, those with the means can often simply pay for it.

Many countries offer a golden visa option, which usually requires the person to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in their host country.

This may include real estate investments or setting up a business and paying into that country’s systems.

The criteria for golden visas vary depending on the country, but securing one often means the person and sometimes their families can live and work in the country.

Greece and Malta are examples of European countries offering popular golden visa schemes, although there have been some recent amendments. Greece has recently tightened its rules, while Portugal ended its golden visa after house prices soared.

Does the UK have golden visas?
The UK scrapped its Tier 1 Investor visa, also referred to as a golden visa scheme, in 2022, partly in an effort to stop super-rich Russians abusing the scheme after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Home Office said at the time that the scheme had “given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption”.

First launched in 2008, people had to have £2 million in their bank accounts to be eligible for the now-defunct scheme.

Priti Patel said at the time: “I have zero tolerance for abuse of our immigration system. Under my New Plan for Immigration, I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities.”

How can you become a resident of another country?
It appears to be a growing trend for nations to scrap golden visa schemes, but there are other ways to become residents in other countries.

Some of the common routes to gain alternative residency include:

Work visa

Student visa

Citizenship by ancestry/descent

Investor visa

Special skill visa

Humanitarian visa

Retirement visa

Rules on residency visas vary depending on the country in question, so make sure to check the eligibility and requirements of each visa programme with the relevant embassies.


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