Second Citizenship
April 3, 2023
Reading Time: 9 min

How to get an EU residence permit: proven methods

Residence permits allow non-EU citizens to live and work in the EU legally. An RP is a kind of a long-term visa you can get for several reasons: education, medical treatment, employment, family reunion, marriage, scientific research, volunteer work, and so on.

All these methods have different bureaucratic nuances. In the case of an employment contract, you depend on the employer; in the case of marriage — on happiness in the family.

Albert Ioffe
Albert Ioffe

Knows all about residence permit programs in Europe

Reliable ways how to get residency in Europe

How to get an EU residence permit: proven methods

There are programs for people who want to get EU residence permits and reduce the risks associated with a third party such as a university, an employer or a spouse. Through these programs, you can get residence permits in exchange for investments in the country’s economy. Let’s observe these ways in detail.

6 main ways of obtaining a residence permit in the EU

Investments. Several countries allow one to get an EU residence permit in exchange for support of the country’s economy. Investment programs have different options, but generally, the main difference is the amount of investments and terms.

When we say “different investment options”, we mean that there are some options for investing. In general, countries give the opportunity to choose between purchasing or renting commercial or real estate, purchasing investment fund units, bank deposits and so on.

Traditionally, the most popular option is real estate purchasing because of its profitability and returnability. Real estate in popular tourist countries allows one to earn income by renting it out.

For example, Malta has two options: permanent residence and a residence permit. For permanent residence, you need to invest €150,000+ and wait 4–6 months, while for a residence permit, you need to invest €30,000+ and wait 3–4 months.

Marriage with an EU citizen. There are a lot of fake marriages, so EU countries closely check such cases. So, there are a lot of verification steps. For example, you need to prove that you lead a joint life and live together; you know the habits and biography of your spouse.

Reunion of the family. You can get a residence permit in the EU if your mother or father already has it. But here you need to prove that you have a financial dependence on them or, in some cases, that you have a sufficient income. Cases of adoption are also in this category.

Employment contract. You can get a Blue Card if you are a unique specialist lacking in the country. For example, this is suitable for scientists. For this, you need to find a company which will be very interested in your CV.

Education. You can get an RP for a year and then prolong it yearly while studying. After graduation, you have several months for a job search. The exact time depends on the country. If you find a job, you apply for a residence permit based on an employment contract. But you’ll need to leave the country if you don’t find it.

Treatment. You can apply for a residence permit if you need long-term treatment, for 1—2 years, in a European hospital. Here you need a contract with a medical institution. May it never be needed.

Can I get to the USA or the EU with a third-country passport?

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EU countries to get a residence permit when buying real estate

mt-flag Malta: purchasing real estate for €220,000+ for a residence permit or €300,000+ for permanent residency.

Participation in both programs is available through renting and purchasing real estate. Both give an opportunity to include in the application members of your family: a spouse, children, parents, and grandparents. The Permanent Residence Program allows for siblings.

Under both residency programs, there are additional transactional costs.

Expenses to become a resident by investment in Malta 

Purchase of real estate:

  • €220,000+ in the south of Malta or Gozo;

  • €275,000+ in the north or centre of Malta.

Purchase of real estate:

  • €300,000+ in the south of Malta or Gozo;

  • €350,000+ in the north or centre of Malta.

Renting real estate:

  • €8,750+ per year in the south of Malta or Gozo;

  • €9,600+ per year in the north or centre of Malta.

Renting real estate:

  • €10,000+ per year in the south of Malta or Gozo;

  • €12,000+ per year in the north or centre of Malta.

Administrative fee is the real estate is in the south of Malta or Gozo

Administrative fee is the real estate is in the north or centre of Malta

Administrative fee, regardless of whether one buys or rents real estate

Translation and apostille of documents, notary services

Translation and apostille of documents, notary services

Health insurance per person

Health insurance per person

Minimum annual tax

Contribution fee:

  • €28,000 if purchasing real estate;

  • €58,000 if renting real estate.

Charitable donation to a Maltese NGO

The obtaining period for the Global Residence Program is 3—4 months, and for the Permanent Residence Program is 4—6 months.

The main difference is that in the case of permanent residence, you have the right to spend time in Malta, while in the case of a residence permit, you commit to living for at least 183 days in Malta. So the Global Residence Program fits more if you want to move to Malta.

For more information: Malta Global Residence Program, Malta Permanent Residence Program.

Greece: purchasing real estate for €250,000+ for a residence permit. Under the Greece Golden Visa Program, you can get a residence permit, permanent residence in 5 years, and citizenship after 2 more years.

The minimum investment amount for participation in this program is €250,000+. The “plus” stands for additional transactional costs, for example, fees, taxes, translation of the documents, etc. The detailed information is on the program page — Greece Golden Visa Program.

pt-flag Portugal: purchasing real estate for €280,000+ for a residence permit. For participation in the Portugal Golden Visa program, you need to wait about 8—10 months.

There are different cost options for participation in the program through purchasing real estate: the cheapest way is to choose a property built more than 30 years ago in a sparsely populated area — the price may start from €280,000.

If you buy property in a designated restoration area or built more than 30 years ago in any other region, you can apply for a program if the property price starts from €350,000.

The price threshold for a property built less than 30 years ago in a sparsely populated area is €400,000. And the most pricey way is to buy a new residential or commercial estate, for getting a residence permit, you need to buy a property for €500,000+.

With this program, you get the ability to travel in the Schengen Area without a visa, optimise your taxes and apply for citizenship in 5 years.

You can include your family members in the residency-by-investment application: spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Learn more — Portugal Golden Visa.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

cy-flag Cyprus: purchasing real estate for €300,000+ for permanent residence. Five years after obtaining the PR, you can apply for citizenship. Another benefit is that you can participate in this program with family members: a spouse or a partner, children of any age and parents.

The amount of investments increases because there are extra costs, and the amount is also dependent on the number of applicants.

For participation, you need a confirmation of income of €50,000+ yearly. Here is more information about the program — Cyprus permanent residence by investment.

es-flag Spain: purchasing real estate for €500,000+ for a residence permit. This program allows the inclusion of family members: a spouse, children and parents. Full costs are dependent on the number of applicants.

This program lets applicants get a work permit. Like other EU residence permit programs, it allows using the EU healthcare and education system.

In 5 years after obtaining a residence permit, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship after 5 more years. Find out more information here — Spain Golden Visa.

Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs

Practical Guide

Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs

EU residence permit for financially independent persons

at-flag Austria: expenses for relocation and life are €100,000+. This path doesn’t give a right to work in the country.

The obtaining period of a residence permit is 3+ months. You can include only a spouse and children under 18 in the application and commit to spending at least 183 days in Austria.

To participate, you need to buy or rent a house; its cost is not set, but the expenses are around €100,000+ for the rent option.

In five years of living in Austria, you can apply for permanent residence; in 6—10 years, you can apply for citizenship.

As with the other EU residence permits, this one gives you the opportunity to travel across the EU visa-free. But in this case, you are able to use the Austrian healthcare and educational system.

pt-flag Portugal: stable foreign income from €760 per month. The Passive Income Visa, or D7, is one of the cheapest ways to live legally in Portugal. As a resident, you will be able to travel across the Schengen Area visa-free, get some tax breaks and apply for citizenship in 5 years.

The main difference from the Golden Visa is that with the D7 one, you must spend at least 183 days in Portugal, and the upper threshold for including children is lower.

Under the D7 Visa conditions, you need to purchase or rent real estate, but you have no limits on its cost. However, you need to prove that you have a stable annual income outside the country; the amount of this income depends on the number of applicants.

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Nuances of application for a residence permit in Europe

There are some specific cases, such as medical treatment, education or employment contracts. In these cases, the main document for a residence permit is a contract with an institution or organisation.

It would help if you also had a reference from the bank that you have enough money to live in the country, or your job offer should have a sufficient salary level. Moreover, in most cases, you need to buy medical insurance. The amount of costs varies by program and country.

If you apply for the investment program or residence permits for financially independent people, the first step of your application process is preliminary Due Diligence at Immigrant Invest. At this stage, you need only a passport.

After the first check, you get a complete list of documents you need for the application process. The list can vary due to the program and your unique situation. But as a rule, you’ll have to confirm the income and give a certificate of absence of criminal records and diseases such as HIV. You also need to buy medical insurance for every applicant.

Common algorithm for getting an EU residence permit by investing in real estate

As we already said, one of the most attractive options for participation in the resident permit program in the EU is an investment in real estate. This option implies profitability and returnability. Real estate in popular tourist countries allows one to earn income by renting it out. Also, you can sell real estate after some years of ownership without losing status.

So, let’s observe the main steps of obtaining a residence permit through purchasing real estate.


Choosing a program

You can appeal to Immigrant Invest if you need help choosing the best-suited program. Our consultants will help you choose the most appropriate program and give the full conditions.


1 day

Preliminary Due Diligence

Our certified Anti Money Laundering Officer checks your documents and identifies all potential issues. This step allows for reducing rejection risk to 1%. It is confidential, and you need only a passport.


5 days to 3 weeks

Selection of real estate

We help you to choose the right property remotely. We find the real estate suitable for the program and corresponding to your wishes. We make detailed photos and videos of it and its location.


2—5 days

Trip to the country

One more check of the property and some bureaucratic nuances: opening a bank account, getting an individual taxpayer number and drawing up a power of attorney for a lawyer who will represent you in the country.


1—2 months

Fulfilment of the program conditions

A lawyer or investor signs the contract and closes the estate deal, you transfer the money to the seller, and the lawyer receives the certificate of ownership.


1.5—2 months

Preparation of documents and application

With a lawyer, you collect documents; the complete list depends on the country and the program, sign all forms, translate and notarize the docs, and send them to the relevant authorities.


1+ months

Getting the resident permit cards

You receive the decision of the relevant authorities, submit fingerprints and get your documents. Congratulations!

Reasons why people choose the EU for life

Obtaining a residence permit in the EU can provide numerous advantages, including the ability to live and work freely in the country where the permit is issued. It may also provide access to free healthcare and education in that country.

To sum up, the EU residence permit gives you the following:

  • Travelling across Europe visa-free. A residence permit allows you not only to live in the country but to travel across 27 states of the Schengen Area without visas.

  • Tax optimisation. The amount of taxes varies from country to country, but most have no taxes for foreign capital and some reductions for newcomers.

  • High level of life, medicine and education. European countries are recognised leaders in these fields.

  • Beautiful nature. Europe is relatively small, and the transport system is sound so you can enjoy all European nature places of interest.

  • Many historical monuments and architecture are situated in Europe so you can see the treasures of culture with your own eyes.

  • Possibility to create their own “safe haven” in the climate-comfortable country. Life in Europe is stable and predictable.

How to obtain a residence permit in the EU in the shortest way

You can check all the beautiful European locations with an EU residence permit. For example, Laufenburg old town on the Rhine river in Switzerland

Instead of the conclusion

  1. Five EU countries allow you to get a residence permit or permanent residence by investment. Two EU states, Austria and Switzerland, grant residence permits to financially independent persons. Portugal offers a D7 visa for those with a monthly income of at least €750.

  2. Programs differ not only by the status they give but by the minimum amount of investments and the obtaining period.

  3. Every country has different options for participation in residence permits or permanent residence options. One of the most popular options is purchasing real estate.

  4. If you need help choosing the appropriate program, we will gladly help you.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

How to obtain a residence permit in Europe?

Practical Guide

How to obtain a residence permit in Europe?

Frequently asked questions