A number of European states are offering residency and citizenship to non-EU investor-class migrants.
Cyprus provides easy visa-free access to the EU to residents. Expats, who have a secured annual income that is high enough to allow for a decent standard of living on Cyprus, can get permanent residence by purchasing property of €300,000 (excluding VAT), depositing €30,000 in a Cyprus Bank in a 3-year fixed deposit account and have a secured annual income high enough to give them a decent living in Cyprus, without having to engage in any business, trade or profession – this means an annual income of at least €30,000 for a single applicant and additional €5,000 for every dependent person and more for parents and in-laws.
There is also an even lower-cost option, Category F regulation 5, for €150.000, but it is a slow track process taking six to eight months. It requires the purchase of a property with a market value of €150.000 (VAT excluded), an annual income of €20.000 – €30.000 (applicant together with his spouse/husband), from sources other than employment in Cyprus, and a deposit of €30.000 in a bank account in Cyprus, which will not be pledged.
Cyprus also offers a fast-track citizenship option with an minimum investment of €2 million in the purchase or construction of immovable property or development or businesses or companies based and operating in Cyprus (other conditions apply). It can also include an investment of €2 million in ‘Alternative Investment Funds established in Cyprus’ or a combination of the above including the option of special government bonds of up to €500,000. In all the cases the applicant must hold a permanent private residence in Cyprus worth at least €500,000 plus VAT.
Malta has two programmes. The first is the Global Residence Program which allows expats the opportunity to buy or rent property in Malta and direct their foreign income to Malta in exchange for residence permit. The minimum investment in property is between €220,000 and €275,000. The second option is the Individual Investor Program which allows for citizenship within a year or so when they buy property for at least €350,000 and keep it for five years or rent property for €16,000 per year – there are additional requirements, but it requires a total commitment of about €1.15 million to obtain a Maltese passport.
Spain offers a Golden visa to expats who wish to apply for residencein Spain. The simplest way is to invest €500,000 in a property and in return, obtain a temporary residence which has to be renewed each year. After five years the applicant receives permanent residency and citizenship after another five further years.
Portugal offers expats the opportunity to become residents through the Golden Residence Permit and it is available to non-EU investors. Applicants can buy real estate of at least €500,000 or alternatively, make a capital investment of at least €1 million in a Portuguese company or establish a Portuguese company. Successful applicants get visa-free access to the Schengen Area, receive permanent residence after five years and Portuguese citizenship one year later.
Austria offers residency and citizenship to persons who have exceptional talent or will make special contributions to Austria, or to those who can make a once-off donation of €2 to €3 million to an approved arts, education or sports project. Another option is to make a recoverable minimum investment of €7,5 million in economy of Austria, excluding investments in government bonds and real estate. There are slightly easier, but lengthier options as well.
Belgium allows non-EU entrepreneurs with capital to incorporate a legal entity and in turn, to receive residency. The company must have a minimum share capital of €18,600; the applicant can be a shareholder and an executive of this company and must receive a salary of at least €35,000 per year. The average cost for residency is between€350,000 and €500,000, payable in stages.
Switzerland allows non-EU expats to apply for Swiss residency by paying an annual lump sum in taxes of at least CHF150,000, depending on the canton in which they apply. In addition, they have to invest at least CHF500,000 to create in a small to medium company of the canton where they wish to live and add economic value for the area by creating jobs. Temporary residency must be renewed yearly
Greece is offering non-EU investors permanent residency similar to the Golden Visa of Spain and Portugal, by way of an investment of €250,000 in a Greek property for five years or if they own a ten-year time-sharing contract. Residence permits may be renewed for a further five years upon expiry, but it does not allow employment.
Ireland has started a residency by investment program in 2011 to attract wealthy non-EU individuals. Applications are examined on their merits and have to be good for Ireland, good for jobs, in the public interest and from persons of ‘good character’. Investors must have a net worth of a minimum of €2 million. They can choose between any one of six categories such as a €1 million investment in a five-year term immigrant investor bond, €500,000 invested in an Irish Enterprise for at least three years or an investment of €2 million or more in any Irish REIT (a company holding rental investment properties) that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.
The United Kingdom offers a Tier-1 investor class visa which requires foreign nationals outside of the EU to invest £2 million in return for a temporary residence visa which lasts for three years initially. It can be extended and visa holders can eventually qualify for permanent residence and citizenship after five years of residence.
Latvia offers investors a low cost option to get permanent residence within the EU by making a real estate investment worth approximately U$350,000 plus fees. Another option is to start a business worth at least U$50,000 and pay approximately U$40,000 taxes per year and a thirdly option is make a loan to the Bank of Latvia or another Latvian credit institution of approximately U$400,000.
Bulgaria offers investors permanent residence in return for an investment of about U$700,000 in a government bonds for a period of five years. After five years of residency the investor can apply for citizenship. It is also possible for an investor to make a payment (not an investment) of a lesser amount of U$245,000 towards securing a U$700,000 loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank. There is also a fast-track option whereby the investor’s U$700,000 goes in to in a risky Priority Investment Project and he/she will receive citizenship after about three years.
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