There are two types of residence permit: a temporary permit and permanent residence. A temporary residence permit must be renewed at certain intervals, for example once a year as in Switzerland. Permanent residence does not expire, you only need to renew the ID card every five years.
Permanent residence holders have almost the same rights as citizens of the state. They can live, work, run a business and enjoy benefits such as sending their child to school for free. The main limitation is that they can not participate in elections and hold public office.
In 2020, the EU countries issued about 2.2 million residence permit cards. This is 24% less than in 2019. The drop in demand is due to restrictions on the work of migration services during the pandemic.
40% of residence permit cards were issued for work, 28% for family reasons, and 11% for study. The data is provided by Eurostat.
How to get a residence permit in Europe
Most of the ways to get a residence permit are associated with certain conditions: marriage, work or study. Also, to maintain the status, you must live in the country for more than 183 days a year.
The fastest way to a residence permit is investment programs that operate in several EU countries. The applicant invests in the country's economy and goes through a simplified procedure for obtaining a residence permit.
The main ways to obtain a residence permit in Europe
Buy real estate. There are special programs in several European countries, the minimum investment is €250,000.
Invest in the economy. This method is officially offered by every country in Europe, but only a few of them actively attract investors with favorable conditions for obtaining a residence permit.
Buy a business or open a new one, as well as create several jobs in the country.
Create a family with a citizen of the country. Countries strictly monitor that the marriage is not fictitious. But scammers often use this option, offering foreigners to enter into a fictitious marriage with a European citizen. We talked about this in the article "10 main misconceptions about EU citizenship".
Conclude an employment contract. European employers are often interested in specialists who are not available in their countries. Specialists receive an EU Blue Card which is an electronic certificate that confirms the right to live and work in one of the EU countries. But Denmark, Ireland and the UK do not issue Blue Cards.
This method is also suitable for foreigners who come for seasonal work.
Reunite with the family. A foreigner can apply for reunification if his relative, e.g. a father or mother, has already received a residence permit. However, the applicant will have to prove that they are financially dependent on a relative with a European residence permit or, conversely, have a sufficient level of income.
Go to university. Student residence permit is usually issued for a period of 4 to 5 years. If a foreigner wants to stay in the country after graduation, he needs to quickly find a job and conclude an employment contract.
Conduct official activities. This method is suitable for diplomats, members of delegations and representatives of international organizations.
Science. This type of residence permit is obtained by foreign employees who have entered into a contract with an organization and will conduct scientific research for it.
Medical treatment. European countries issue a residence permit for long-term treatment for 1-2 years. Usually such residence permit cards are not renewed.
Prove worth. A residence permit can be obtained for special services to the state or volunteer work. In special cases, the government may issue a residence permit for specific merit, such as helping the police to find dangerous criminals.
If a foreigner receives a residence permit by investment, then they can add family members to the application. Each country sets its own rules. But most often, the spouse, children and financially dependent parents receive the status together with the investor.
Faster and easier ways to get European residency
There are many ways to get a European residence permit, for example, by marrying a citizen of a country or by naturalization. To obtain a status, foreigners have to comply with immigration conditions: learnhe state language, pass an exam on knowledge of the country's history, or live in it for a certain number of years.
Wealthy people get a residence permit by investment as it's faster and easier. The procedure for obtaining the status takes an average of three months. Most often, investors do not need to live in the country and learnhe local language, but it all depends on the conditions of the residence permit programs.
Programs do not operate in all European countries and differ in conditions. For example, a residence permit in Austria can be obtained by financially independent persons for investments from €100,000. This is a small cost compared to other countries, but only 450 people a year can receive the status. Moreover, the conditions of the residence permit program are stricter. Investors need to:
- Live in Austria for at least 183 days a year.
- Prove financial independence by providing a bank statement.
- Buy health insurance for the whole family.
- Learn basic German.
Investments under residence permit programs in Portugal and Greece are higher, from €250,000, but the conditions for investors are less strict. To become residents of these two countries, investors do not need to live in Portugal or Greece, pass an exam on knowledge of the language or the history of the country.
Advantages of a residence permit in Europe
A residence permit allows its holder to come to the country at any time, buy real estate, educate children at local schools and universities, and take out health insurance.
If we are talking about a residence permit in an EU country, the status also gives the right to stay in other Schengen countries without a visa for up to 90 days within six months.
Opportunities for foreigners with a European residence permit
- Visa-free travel within the Schengen countries and the European Union, if the residence permit is issued in an EU country;
- visiting the country that issued the residence permit without a visa even with closed borders;
- the opportunity to educate children in European educational institutions;
- tax optimization;
- quick opening of accounts in reliable banks;
- the opportunity to use the services of the best clinics in Europe;
- transfer of business to a stable economic zone;
- buying real estate for living or renting;
- purchase of a car or yacht with the possibility of registering movable property;
- the prospect of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship in a few years.
Validity period of a European residence permit
A residence permit allows its holder to live in the country for up to five years, depending on the conditions for obtaining it. Most often, the status is issued for one or two years, so the residence permit must be periodically renewed.
If a residence permit is obtained under an investment program, there are preferential conditions for extending the status: for example, you do not need to permanently live in the country. Residents of Portugal must spend only seven days a year in the country in order not to lose their residence permit status, and residents of Greece are not required to live in the country at all.
A residence permit in the EU countries
The Austrian government offers more than 10 ways for foreigners to obtain a residence permit, for example, for work or study. The easiest way is to get arnresidence permit for financially independent persons.
The applicant and his family members receive a residence permit on a quota: annually, Austria allocates from 400 to 450 places. To obtain a residence permit, you need to prepare documents, register on the consulate website and meet the date of submission of documents. All family members must be present when submitting documents.
The cost of obtaining the status is from €100,000. The processing time is approximately three months.
Foreigners have six ways to get a residence permit in Belgium. Half of them are for wealthy citizens who are ready to invest in the country's economy, open a company or develop a business.
Bulgaria offers more than seven ways for foreigners to obtain a residence permit, including obtaining permanent residence by investments of €250,000 in real estate. Wealthy pensioners can also get a residence permit.
Foreigners have more than seven ways to get a residence permit in Croatia. The country offers residence permits not only for contract workers, but also for digital nomads.
The Republic of Cyprus issues more than 10 types of residence permits: the fastest way to get permanent residence is by investment in real estate under the state program. The minimum investment starts from €300,000, and participation in the program takes from two months.
To obtain permanent residence in Cyprus, an investor buys residential or commercial real estate, shares of local companies or shares of Cypriot investment funds. The most popular option is investing in residential real estate.
Examples of investment property in Cyprus
The Czech Republic offers foreigners more than eight ways to obtain a residence permit, including by investment. Applicants need to invest at least €2,900,000 in the country's economy.
Denmark offers foreigners more than eight ways to obtain a residence permit, most of which are related to work. A residence permit can be obtained by researchers, founders of startups and famous representatives of their professions, such as artists or athletes.
A foreigner can get a residence permit in Estonia for work, study, for scientific or entrepreneurial activities, as well as for other reasons. There are more than six of them.
Finland offers more than seven ways for foreigners to obtain a residence permit. Entrepreneurs receive a residence permit if they have a Business ID. To do this, you need to register a business in the country.
A residence permit can also be obtained if one of the parents or grandparents is a Finnish citizen by birth.
France issues 11 types of residence permits to foreigners. Most of them are for wealthy people and highly qualified specialists.
France has a residence permit program. Investors over 18 years old, with official income and no criminal record can participate in the residence permit program. Together with them, family members receive the status: spouses, partners without marriage registration and children under 18 years of age.
Investors can choose from three investment options:
- €300,000+ of investment in a new or operating company;
- €30,000+ for creation of a new business;
- €20,000+ for creation of an innovative startup.
Germany offers more than 12 ways for foreigners to get a residence permit in the country. For example, IT specialists, entrepreneurs and scientists can apply for a residence permit.
Greece offers residence permits to investors and financially independent persons, as well as students and foreigners who come to countries to work on a contract basis.
One can get a Greek "golden visa" by investments from €250,000. The term for obtaining a residence permit is from six months. To become residents of the country, investors:
- buy property;
- rent a hotel or tourist residence for 10 years;
- buy land for construction or agriculture;
- participate in timeshare for 10 years;
- receive real estate by inheritance or under a donation agreement;
- buy securities or open a deposit in a bank.
One can get a residence permit in Hungary, for example, for work or study, for family reunification or for treatment. There are 10 ways in total, most of them considering work.
Foreigners obtain a residence permit in Ireland through more than 10 options. Most of them are work related. A residence permit can be obtained by medical workers, scientists and sailors, as well as foreigners who are ready to invest an amount of €500,000.
Italy offers more than 11 ways for foreigners to obtain a residence permit. Among them is a residence permit by investment and for the chosen place of residence for financially independent persons.
Latvia offers foreigners about 12 ways to get a residence permit. Investors receive a residence permit in Latvia by investments in the equity capital of companies, the purchase of real estate, the purchase of shares or a contribution to the subordinated capital of credit institutions.
A foreigner can get a residence permit in Lithuania for study, work or by investment. There are more than 15 ways in total. Investors can get a residence permit if they offer an idearnfor a startup or invest in a business from €260,000.
A residence permit in Luxembourg is issued on 18 grounds. Most of them are for work. Investors receive a residence permit by investing in a business from €500,000. It is also necessary to create a head office in the country and at least five jobs.
Malta issues 10 types of residence permits, including ones for investors.
There are two government programs for investors in the country. According to one of them, investors receive a temporary residence permit and permanent residence according to the other. Participation in the programs is the fastest and easiest way to obtain a residence permit in Malta.
The Malta Global Residence Program allows investors to obtain a residence permit in Malta by investment, and with it, a special tax status. The cost of obtaining the status starts from €30,000. Processing time is 3-4 months.
The program has three prerequisites. An investor:
- Buys or rents a home. Minimum investment in real estate: when buying is €220,000 and €8,750 per year when renting.
- Pays a tax of 15% on income that is received outside of Malta and transferred to the country. The minimum tax amount is €15,000 per year.
- Pays an administrative fee in the amount of €5,500 to €6,000, depending on the region of the country where the property is bought or rented.
When an investor receives a residence permit in Malta, he becomes a tax resident of the country.
The Malta Permanent Residence Program allows foreigners to obtain permanent residence in Malta by an investment of €160,000. The term for obtaining the status takes 6-8 months.
Conditions for obtaining:
- Rent a property for €10,000 per year or buy an object worth €300,000+. The minimum period of ownership or lease of real estate under the program is 5 years.
- Pay a one-time administrative fee of €40,000.
- Pay a government fee of €28,000 when buying a property or €58,000 when renting.
- Make a non-refundable contribution to a non-governmental organization of €2,000.
- Confirm the existence of assets in the amount of €500,000 or more: the investor proves that he has capital at his disposal, including financial assets with a value of €150,000 or more.
- Get a health insurance policy with coverage for all EU countries. The cost of insurance starts from €500 per person.
Examples of investment property in Malta
The Netherlands offers more than seven ways for foreigners to obtain a residence permit. One of them is for applicants who invest in a company or an investment fund from €1,250,000. The company or foundation must be registered and operating in the Netherlands.
Foreigners obtain a residence permit in Poland in more than seven ways. For participants in the state Poland Business Harbor program, there is a simplified procedure for obtaining status. Residence permit under the program is issued to IT specialists, startup founders and IT entrepreneurs.
There are many ways to get a residence permit in Portugal, for example, by marrying a citizen of the country. There are more than eight options in total, but in most cases you need to live in the country for at least 183 days a year. Those who receive a residence permit by investment can stay in the country seven days a year.
In Portugal, there is a state residence permit program, or the Golden Residence Permit Program. Applicants invest in the country's economy from €250,000 and receive resident status within two months.
The program provides eight investment options:
- a purchase of new residential or commercial real estate worth from €400,000 in sparsely populated areas of the country and from €500,000 in other regions;
- a purchase of real estate built over 30 years ago or located in a renovation area. The cost of the object is from €280,000;
- support of culture and art in the amount of €250,000;
- investments in scientific projects from €500,000;
- purchase of shares in investment funds worth from €500,000;
- investment in a business with the creation of 5 jobs from €500,000;
- transfer of capital in the amount of €1,500,000;
- opening a company with the creation of 10 jobs.
Restrictions on the purchase of real estate
From 2022, residential real estate is only allowed to be bought in the interior regions of the country, as well as in the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.
It is no longer possible to obtain a residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of residential property in large and coastal cities popular among tourists like Lisbon, Cascais, Porto and others.
Restrictions do not apply to commercial real estate, it can be bought in any region of Portugal.
Romania offers foreigners more than eight ways to obtain a residence permit. Investors can get the status if they invest in the country's economy from €200,000.
Slovakia issues more than 10 types of residence permits to foreigners. All of them are standard for EU countries: for example, for study, work or treatment.
Foreigners can obtain a residence permit in Slovenia according to one of six types. Entrepreneurs can open a limited liability company, a subsidiary or a representative office in the country. The authorized capital must be at least €7,500.
Spain offers more than 10 ways to get a residence permit in the country. The country also has a state residence permit program, according to which investors receive a status within 2-3 months. The minimum investment is €500,000.
To obtain a residence permit in Spain, the investor chooses one of the options:
- purchase of real estate worth from €500,000;
- investing in shares of Spanish companies or a bank deposit from €1,000,000;
- purchase of government bonds in the amount of €2,000,000;
- investment in a new business from €1,000,000.
Sweden issues more than eight types of residence permits to foreigners. For example, for work, treatment or visiting relatives in the country. There are no business options.
A residence permit in non-EU European countries
Albania issues more than eight types of residence permits to foreigners. Depending on the purpose of the trip, a residence permit card can be single-entry or renewable.
Andorra offers foreigners two options for obtaining a residence permit which are active and passive. The “active” method assumes that the applicant lives and works in the country, the “passive” method assumes that the main sources of income and activities of the applicant are outside Andorra.
To obtain a residence permit in Andorra, an investor buys real estate or securities, invests in funds or business. Investors can also open an interest-free deposit at a local bank. The minimum investment amount is €300,000.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina issues more than seven types of residence permits to foreigners in the country. For example, for work, study or treatment. Also, a residence permit card is issued to those who own property in the country.
Foreigners can get one of 10 types of residency in Iceland, for example for family reunification, study or work.
Monaco offers five options to obtain a residence permit. One of the ways is a residence permit by investments. Before submitting documents, you need to obtain a long-term Schengen visa category D at the nearest French consulate to your place of residence.
To maintain status, it is important to live in the country for at least 183 days a year. If you violate this condition, the card will not be renewed.
Montenegro offers foreigners eight options for obtaining a residence permit. One of the conditions is that an applicant must come to the country to apply for the status.
One can obtain Montenegrin citizenship by investments in real estate in the amount of €450,000. But the program is only valid until December 31st, 2022.
North Macedonia offers more than eight ways to obtain a residence permit. For example, for study, practice or work.
Norway issues more than 11 types of residence permits to foreigners. Among them are residence permits for work, study and special residence permits for those who want to work in Northern Norway.
Foreigners can get a residence permit in Serbia for work or treatment, as well as for other reasons. There are more than eight of them, including for the purchase of real estate. To do this, a foreigner needs to provide documents confirming the right of ownership, for example, an extract from the state register.
Switzerland offers foreigners four ways to obtain a residence permit in the country. The easiest way is to participate in the residence permit program for financially independent persons.
The investor confirms that he has enough money for permanent residence in Switzerland. And he concludes an agreement with one of the cantons for the payment of ₣450,000, a lump-sum tax. The procedure for obtaining a residence permit takes from six months.
Turkey issues more than 10 types of residence permits to foreigners. Investors can obtain a residence permit for investment and purchase of real estate.
Turkey also has a citizenship investment program: in order to obtain a passport, investors most often buy real estate worth $250,000 or more. Registration of the status takes up to six months.
The United Kingdom offers more than 10 ways to obtain a residence permit in the country. The government issues special residence permits to businessmen who open an innovative or a start-up company in the country.
Frequently asked questions
A residence permit in a country of the European Union gives a foreigner the rights of a resident. The individual can move around the Schengen area without visas, live in the country, work, do business, and be treated in European clinics with quality service. Children will be able to study in schools and universities of the country. In addition, with a residence permit of one state of an EU country, it is easier to obtain a residence permit of another EU country or the Schengen zone. This can be useful, for example, if a child, having a residence permit in Portugal, wants to study in Switzerland.
You can get a residence permit in the European Union by naturalization, but a faster and easier way is by state investment programs. Registration of a residence permit by investment takes at least 3 months, of which the most important and lengthy stage is the Due Diligence check. Immigrant Invest performs a preliminary Due Diligence. The check is carried out by specialists from the Compliance Department, which in our industry is only available at Immigrant Invest. This reduces the risk of failure under the program to 1%.
The minimum expenses are required under the state residence permit program in Malta. To obtain a residence permit, you must rent or purchase property and pay tax annually. Renting is the least expensive option:
- From €8,750 per year if the object is located on the island of Gozo or the south of Malta.
- At least €9,600 per year in any other region of the country.
In addition to rent, the applicant pays an administrative fee of €5,500 and a minimum tax payment of €15,000. The total cost of obtaining a residence permit will be approximately €30,000. Furthermore, the program participant will pay rent and tax of €23,750 per year.
The state residence permit program in Portugal has the largest number of investment options. The investor can choose from 8 options:
- Buy real estate in the amount of €500,000.
- Buy a property that is located in areas of renovation or was built more than 30 years ago from €350,000.
- Open an account in the state bank of Portugal in the amount of 1.5 million euros.
- Invest in a national company or open a new one in the country from €500,000. Also create at least 5 jobs in the company.
- Invest from €500,000 in investment funds.
- Invest capital in works of art and support for art from €250,000.
- Invest from €500,000 in the research activities of the country.
- Open a company and create at least 10 jobs for the local population.
A quick prospect of citizenship is given by the Portuguese residence permit program. It will be possible to apply for a passport after 5 years of maintaining the status of a residence permit. To obtain Portuguese citizenship, it is necessary to prove the knowledge of the Portuguese language at level A2. At the same time, the investor will not need to live in Portugal either before or after obtaining citizenship. This is a great advantage of the Portuguese residence permit investment program. In comparison, if you participate in the investment program of residence permit in Greece, then only you can apply for citizenship, but not members of your family. Even though they participated with you in the investment program. In addition, you need to live in Greece in order to subsequently become a citizen of Greece but not all investors are ready to move. You have to take a language proficiency test. If the investor is satisfied with these conditions, he can apply for Greek citizenship only after 7 years of maintaining the residence permit status.