Many of us dream of living in another country. But if you don’t have family or a sponsor there, it can be difficult to obtain a visa. For those prepared to make a significant investment into another country’s economy, a Golden Visa – often called an Investment Visa – could be your ticket.

Read on to learn exactly what a Golden Visa is, which countries offer them, and how you can get one.

 

What is a Golden Visa?

Golden Visas are residency programs that offer the right to live, work, and study in another country in return for a substantial investment. You can qualify in various countries by purchasing real estate or investing in business.

 

Golden Visa Requirements

The economic requirements for a Golden Visa vary from country to country – and they keep changing. Many EU countries have restricted their Golden Visa programmes since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but there are still plenty of opportunities to gain citizenship by investment across the world.

Bear in mind that it’s not as simple as setting up a wire transfer. To be eligible for a Golden Visa in most countries, you must:

  • Be over 18
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have proof of funds
  • Have health insurance

 

Golden Visa Benefits

  1. Residency Rights: Golden Visa holders gain the right to reside in the issuing country. This is usually for a set period but with a pathway to permanent residency.
  2. Citizenship: Some countries, like Portugal and Malta, provide a fast track to citizenship after a certain period of residency under your Golden Visa.
  3. Travel and Mobility: Your Golden Visa may open up visa-free travel to other countries or allow you to visit and/or do business more easily in the EU.
  4. Business Opportunities: It may be easier to establish, operate, or expand businesses in the host country and beyond.
  5. Tax Incentives: Though the upfront cost of your investment will be significant, there may be tax incentives to obtaining residency.

Naturally, quality of life, climate and education are all significant factors that drive people to pursue a Golden Visa. 

 

A father plays with his two sons in a swimming pool by a luxury villa.

 

Can you take your family?

Most Golden Visa programs allow the main applicant to include their immediate family members, typically a spouse and any dependent children. Some schemes include parents and even in-laws.

Make sure to check the rules in the specific country before getting your hopes up! 

You should prepare to submit verified proof of relationship and proof of dependency along with additional processing fees.

 

Which Countries Still Offer Golden Visas?

Visa rules across the globe are constantly changing. In the wake of the Ukraine war, for example, the UK and Ireland both withdrew visa-by-investment programmes that might have limited the effect of sanctions on Russia. 

The EU encouraged European governments to stop offering citizenship and residency in exchange for investment in 2022, citing security risks. Many countries have since scaled back their programs. Portugal stopped accepting real estate investment as a qualifier in 2023, and Spain and the Netherlands followed suit in early 2024.

However, you’ll still find plenty of EU countries offering Golden Visas in return for a legitimate business investment. There are also many opportunities to gain a Golden Visa through real estate or another form of financial input further afield.

Europe

  1. Portugal: Accepts certain capital transfers over €250,000, job creation, and donations.
  2. Spain: Rolling back its program, but business development and government bonds may still qualify.
  3. Greece: 400,000 in real estate or business investment.
  4. Italy: €2 million investment in Italian government bonds, €250,000 investment in innovative startups, or €500,000 investment in an Italian limited company.
  5. Malta: Property lease or acquisition.
  6. Cyprus: €300,000 in real estate or business investment.

Americas

  1. United States: The EB-5 Visa requires an investment of $1,050,000 in a commercial enterprise that creates at least ten jobs.
  2. Canada: Several provincial programs, such as the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, focus on business investment.
  3. Panama: Investment of $100,000 in reforestation, $300,000 in real estate or $500,000 in the stock exchange.
  4. Saint Kitts and Nevis: $250,000 donation to a government fund or $400,000 investment in real estate.
  5. Dominica: $100,000 donation to a government fund or $200,000 investment in real estate.
  6. Antigua and Barbuda: $200,000 donation to National Development fund, $400,000 investment in real estate or $3,000,000 business investment.
  7. Grenada: $150,000 donation or a $350,000 investment in a government-approved real estate project.

Asia and Oceania

  1. Thailand: Elite Visa program offers long-term residence through investment.
  2. Singapore: Global Investor Program for significant investment in businesses or funds.
  3. Malaysia: Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program requires financial proof and fixed deposits.
  4. New Zealand: Investor and Investor Plus categories for significant investments.
  5. Australia: Significant Investor Visa requires investment in Australian businesses and funds.

Middle East

  1. United Arab Emirates: Long-term residency through real estate investment, business establishment, or significant deposit in a local bank.

 

The Most Popular Golden Visas

In the UK, there’s a big appetite for visas to warmer European countries like Spain and Portugal, especially since Brexit. Unfortunately, many of the most desirable countries have limited their schemes in the past few years.

Brits are also taking up the opportunity to gain a Golden Visa for countries like Australia, the US, and the UAE. 

 

What is a Golden Visa in Spain?

Spain has announced its intention to eliminate the Golden Visa scheme, which allowed foreigners to gain residency by investing in real estate. It’s unclear whether a version of the scheme will arise for non-real-estate investment.

You might still be able to take advantage of Spain’s Non-Lucrative Residence Visa (NLV). This allows you and your family to reside in Spain ‘without carrying out any gainful (work or professional) activity’. You will need to prove you have enough funds to live off without working.

 

A residential street with white buildings and pink flowers.

 

Portugal Golden Visa Requirements

Portugal offers a Golden Visa – or residence permit for investment activity (ARI) – to foreigners who invest a certain amount in various business streams:

  • Any investment that creates at least ten jobs
  • €500,000 in forming a commercial company that creates five permanent jobs
  • €500,000 in qualifying venture capital funds
  • €500,000 in scientific research activities
  • €250,000 in arts and culture

As of October 2023, you can no longer gain a visa by investing in real estate, businesses related to real estate, or by making a capital transfer of €1,500,000 that does not meet the above criteria.

 

What is the UAE Golden Visa?

The UAE’s Golden Visa scheme is a lot broader than most European offerings. It offers five or ten years’ residency with the option to renew when you meet any of the following requirements:

  • Investment of AED two million in a UAE-accredited investment fund
  • Annual payment of AED 250,000 to the UAE government
  • Purchase of one or more properties with a total value of AED 2 million or more
  • Ownership of an economic project in the UAE valued at AED 500,000 or more
  • Ownership of an economic project the emirate’s authorities deem to be ‘technical’ or ‘future’ in nature
  • Possession of outstanding specialised talents e.g. surgeons, inventors and creatives

 

What Do You Need to Apply For a Golden Visa?

The documentation required to apply for a Golden Visa varies by country and program. However, there are common documents typically required across most Golden Visa programs. Here’s a general list of documents you might need:

  1. Passport: Valid passport for the main applicant and all family members included in the application.
  2. Proof of Investment: Documentation showing the investment made, such as:
    • Property purchase agreements and proof of payment.
    • Bank statements showing funds transferred for investment.
    • Business incorporation documents or proof of shareholding in a company.
    • Government bonds purchase confirmation.
  3. Proof of Funds: Evidence that the applicant has the financial means to make the required investment, such as bank statements, financial portfolio summaries, or income statements.
  4. Background Checks: Police clearance certificates or criminal record checks from the applicant’s country of residence and any other country where the applicant has resided for a significant period.
  5. Health Insurance: Proof of valid health insurance coverage in the host country for the applicant and family members.
  6. Medical Certificate: Some countries require a medical certificate stating that the applicant and family members are in good health.
  7. Proof of Relationship: Documents proving the relationship between the main applicant and family members, such as marriage certificates for spouses and birth certificates for children.
  8. Application Forms: Completed application forms specific to the Golden Visa program.
  9. Educational and Professional Documents: Sometimes required for business or skilled investment categories.

 

The Importance of Document Legalisation

When applying for a visa in another country, you often need to verify the authenticity of the documents you submit. A registered notary public like notary.co.uk can notarise the documents, apply an apostille, and assist with providing a certified translation when required. This means the documents will be recognised and accepted in the destination country.

 

 

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