One of the easiest ways for financially independent individuals to live in the European Union is by obtaining a residence permit. The requirements are simple: it is sufficient to show proof of income, savings and property ownership, and complete the application.
This type of residence permit cannot be used by the applicant to build a career, as the income has to be sourced from another country. We will discuss the requirements for applicants, how to obtain this type of residence permit and how to choose a suitable program.
Who are financially independent persons?
Holders of this residence permit are not allowed to work in the European Union. They can own a business but cannot hold a paid position in it. They have to employ others to manage the business.
An EU residence permit for financially independent persons is used as a base for living in Europe most often chosen by families with children, employees of companies outside the EU working remotely, entrepreneurs who have retired or are running their business remotely and wealthy retirees. This form of EU residence permit is often used by the applicant to improve the quality of their life or give their children a European education.
A residence permit for financially independent persons is suitable only for those who plan to live in their selected European country, pay taxes there and raise their family. If you are not sure whether this is the right choice for you, we advise you to fly to the country as a tourist and live there for a couple of months to find out if the country suits you.
Another feature of a residence permit for wealthy individuals is that the family members of the main applicant can retain their residence permits even if the main applicant gives up their residence permit and leaves the country.
Rights of holders of a residence permit for financially independent individuals
Holders of this type of residence permit have the following rights:
- live in the chosen country until the residence permit expires;
- travel in the Schengen area without a visa;
- get permanent resident status in 5 years, and citizenship in 7ー10 years;
- educate their children in the country that issued the residence permit;
- insurance to use the local medical services;
- move to safety quickly in case of any unforeseen economic or political difficulties in their country of origin.
Requirements for applicants
Each country has its own requirements for applicants, but in general terms they are as follows:
- Legal and regular income outside the selected country equal to or above the set minimum level. On average, it varies from €1,500 to €3,000 per month per person, excluding rental and medical insurance payments. The income can be earned from remote work, fees, investment, dividends, renting out property, business, pensions or assets. It is also possible for holders to count income received from renting out local real estate, as well as dividends from investments or a share in a local business. It is important that the income is received regularly.
- Savings that allow the holder and their family to live without assistance from the state for the entire validity period of the residence permit which is initially issued for a year. On average, this is €15,000ー25,000 for the main applicant and €6,500ー10,000 for each additional family member included in the application. The savings must be kept at a local bank.
- Proof of knowledge of the local language at a basic level A1. A basic level that allows you to carry out everyday tasks in the local language. The language requirement varies by country. Knowledge of the language is not required in France, while in Austria, instead of a language certificate, a diploma issued by any university is acceptable.
- Comprehensive health insurance, usually costing €100ー300 per person per month.
- Buy or rent housing not lower than a certain minimum rental price or area (housing with relatives or friends is usually not suitable). Other requirements are also possible. For example, in Austria children of different genders must be accommodated in different rooms.
- Reside in the country for more than 183 days a year. If this requirement is not met, the residence permit will not be extended. However, by meeting this requirement, the holder may lose their status of a tax resident in their country of origin, which could make them liable to pay higher personal income tax there. In some countries, such as France and Greece, there is no minimum residence requirement for investors.
- Cannot be a citizen of one of the countries of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, or be a close relative of a citizen of one of these countries.
- Not to have violated the visa regime of the European Union and not to have been banned from entering any EU country.
- Have no criminal record.
- Not suffering from any socially dangerous disease, such as HIV or tuberculosis.
- Must send minor children to school.
- Collect and submit the required documents, including financial documents, for the residence permit. We discuss this in greater detail below.
The documents are similar to those required for a Schengen visa:
- Documentary confirmation of the amount and legality of the source of income of an economically independent person. Tax returns, employment contracts, retirement certificates, incorporation documents, bank and brokerage statements, and other documents that prove ownership, income and the origin of funds are suitable.
- Confirmation of the relationship of family members with the applicant: certificate of marriage, divorce, birth, adoption, change of surname.
- Proof of ownership of a local property or lease.
- Medical insurance policy.
- Language proficiency certificate or equivalent.
- Valid passport.
All documents must be translated into the local language and certified by a notary, apostille or a consulate.
Differences between a residence permit for financially independent individuals and a residence permit by investment
Wealthy applicants can obtain a residence permit, permanent residence or even citizenship of a European country by investment. Such citizenship programs by investment are offered, for example, in Malta, Greece, Britain, Austria and Switzerland.
In such cases, the applicant is usually not required to reside in the country and the country in which their income is earned is not relevant.
However, the financial requirements are much higher. For example, permanent residence in Malta requires an investment of €112,000, including the cost of renting a property, while citizenship costs €610,000, excluding the cost of renting or buying real estate. In comparison, a residence permit in Greece costs €250,000 and a residence permit in Portugal costs €280,000.
How to apply for a residence permit for financially independent persons
We have listed below the steps required to get a residence permit:
1. Fill out the required application forms. Open a bank account in the selected country. Collect the required documents, have them translated and notarized, and pay the fees. All this takes up to 1 month.
2. Find accommodation in the selected country. Buy or rent real estate for the period established by law.
3. Submit your application at any consulate or embassy of the selected country. Pay a non-refundable consular fee of €100–150 for each applicant.
The application is processed within one to six months. After approval, a temporary D visa is issued, which allows the applicant to enter the country and obtain a residence permit. The visa is valid for 3 to 6 months. During this period, the applicant has to move to the country and register themselves with the local law enforcement agencies. If you do not do this within the validity period of the temporary visa, the application for the residence permit is cancelled and a new application has to be made from scratch.
4. Move to the country. Applicants are required by law to make sure that their residence card is issued within a month after entering the country on the temporary D visa.
How to extend a residence permit for financially independent persons
A residence permit for financially independent persons is usually issued for one year, although in some cases it can be issued for two years. It must be extended regularly for the first few years.
After a certain number of years in the country, usually five years, a permanent residence permit is issued.
After living in the country for seven to ten years, a permanent resident can apply for citizenship.
In some cases a residence permit can be extended for several years at once. In such cases, the residence permit holder must prove that they have sufficient savings to cover the minimum living expenses stipulated in the program for the permit’s validity period.
Residence permit in Austria for financially independent persons
Austria is an ideal choice for individuals looking for a comfortable country to live in, a safe environment and an attractive work-life balance.
The number of residence permits issued is determined by quota. In 2020 and 2021, 6020 resident permits (one per person rather than the whole family) were allocated for the whole of Austria, of which 450 were for wealthy individuals.
Applicants for resident permits that are allocated by quota can submit their applications at the beginning of January. Before submitting an application for a residence permit, applicants must preliminarily register online on the consulate’s website and receive a reply stating the deadline with which their application must be submitted. If an applicant does not manage to meet this deadline, their application is placed on a waiting list. In case applications that have been submitted are rejected, their application will move higher up in the queue. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare the required documents in advance, and submit the application for a residence permit on January 2 or as soon as possible in January.
Monthly income requirements
- €1,933 per single applicant
- €2,944 for a married couple
- €298 extra for each child
- €15,000 per person
- €10,000 per child
Residence permit in Austria for financially independent persons
Leonid and Tatiana are a married couple with children who wanted to move to Europe. After consulting with us, they chose the residence permit program in Austria for wealthy people.
The family chose to move to Vienna. They contacted us in the autumn of 2017. Our lawyers quickly prepared the necessary documents for them. In December, the couple flew to Vienna. We found housing for them and took out medical insurance for them. On January 2, we submitted their application to the consulate in Moscow to make sure that this was done before the allocated quotas were exhausted. Their application was approved in March, and the family moved to Austria in May.
Immigrant Invest will help you obtain a residence permit in Austria for wealthy people. We know how to ensure that your application meets the requirements of the program and that it is submitted before the allocated quotas are exhausted. We prepare the paperwork ourselves, submit the application on your behalf and help you find housing. You do not need to come to our office or travel to Austria beforehand: we can make all the arrangements
Residence permit in Switzerland for financially independent persons
Switzerland has a different system of issuing residence permits for wealthy people. Holders of such a residence permit must pay an annual lump-sum tax ranging from CHF450,000 to 1,500,000 (approximately, €400,000 to €1,380,000), depending on the canton of residence and the resident permit holder’s income. In addition, taxes of CHF20,000–25,000 need to be paid to the social insurance fund for a family with children.
This type of residence permit can be obtained in any canton in the country, apart from Zurich. The residence permit holder must enter into an agreement with the cantonal authorities to pay the annual tax. They must also declare their total regular income and assets in the agreement.
Obtaining a residence permit in Switzerland takes from 2 to 5 months. First, the application has to be approved by the cantonal tax office and then confirmed by the federal authorities. Life in Switzerland as resident permit holders is recommended only for extremely wealthy people: housing costs and the cost of maintaining the resident permit are ten times higher than in other European countries.
Spanish residence permit for financially independent persons
Spanish residence permits are one of the most popular resident permits in the EU. In 2020, there were about 60,000 Spanish residence permit holders for financially independent persons.
- €2,148 per applicant
- €537 for each additional family member
- €25,816 per person
- €6,454 for each additional family member
Residence permit in Portugal for financially independent persons
It is much easier and cheaper to get a residence permit in Portugal than in neighboring Spain. The minimum income requirement is only €635 per month per applicant.
- €7,620 per applicant
- €11,220 for a married couple
- €2,160 per child
- Residence permit holders can pay taxes under a preferential system as a “non-habitual resident” for ten years: most of the income earned outside the country is tax-free, and there is a reduced rate for income earned domestically.
- Holders can start their own business or invest in local businesses.
- There is no minimum property value requirement. Most often, property owners’ applications are approved.
- Holders can obtain a work permit in the country after 12 months.
Residence permit in Greece for financially independent persons
A residence permit in Greece is one of the most affordable and attractive options for wealthy people. There are no requirements for the minimum residence period in the country, so the program is popular among those who do not plan to permanently live in Greece or the European Union. Applicants need to come to the country only once in order to register their residence permit.
- €2,000 per applicant
- €2,400 for a married couple
- €360 per child
Savings covering a one-year period
- €24,000 per person
- €28,800 for a married couple
- €3,600 per child
A Greek residence permit is issued for a period of two years; thus, a single applicant’s savings must be at least €48,000. After the first two years, the residence permit can be extended for three years, and citizenship can be obtained after seven years.
Applicants can also apply under the “golden visa” program in Greece. In return for investing €250,000 in real estate, applicants can be offered a permanent residence permit straight away for a period of five years.
Residence permit in Hungary for financially independent persons
Many of our clients get a residence permit in Hungary in order to eventually move to other EU countries, having spent less than they would have spent by applying directly in some of the other EU countries. However, Hungary is a great country in itself and it offers all the benefits of living in the European Union. Real estate prices are lower, the cost of living is more affordable, services are cheaper, and there are many opportunities for travel and outdoor activities. The savings required per applicant are just €10,000.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on the country. Usually, the residence permit holder must live in the country for more than 183 days a year, otherwise their residence permit will not be extended. However, in some countries, for example in Greece, there are no minimum residence conditions.
It is sufficient to prove knowledge of the language at the minimum A1 level. For this, you need to know several hundred words, and be able to ask for directions and order food in a restaurant.
The following costs are payable when filing an application:
- consular fee: € 100–150 per person;
- fee for issuance of residence card issuance: about €200 for each applicant;
- legal expenses: €1000–5000;
- medical insurance: €100–300 per person;
- buying or renting a property: when buying a property: 5 to 10% of the property price.