St. Julians, Malta
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Paceville, St Julian’s, STJ 3141 Malta
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Vienna, Austria
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Golden Visa
Programs

Travel free for up to 90 days in any 180 days in the Schengen countries with Golden Visa and set safe heaven in advance.

7 Golden Visas have a similar procedure of obtaining. Still, they also vary in the following criteria: visa-free destination list, investment cost, possibility to apply for citizenship in 5 years and frequency of the residence card renewal.

Download complete guide

PDF, 15 pages, 2.6 MB

What is Golden Visa?

The meaning of Golden Visa is quite simple: it is a residency by investment program. In other words, it is one of the fastest ways for wealthy families to become legal residents of a foreign country.

Minimum investment depends on a Golden Visa country and ranges from €150,000 to millions.

Golden Visa programs give opportunities to relocate to a favourable jurisdiction or visit it rarely physically – it is up to the Golden Visa holder's wish. Holding residency in a foreign state guarantees legal rights, including the right to live, work, study, and receive healthcare there.

Foreign residency For the whole family
€150,000 Minimum investment
No due to live In the country

What benefits can you enjoy with your Golden Visa?

The advantages of a Golden Visa depend on the country where you would like to apply for it. Golden Visas of European countries have a lot of common benefits. In contrast, the UAE Golden Visa has its own – for example, tax optimisation and very beneficial conditions about staying in the country.

1
Moving to Europe

A residence permit or permanent residence allows you to live in the country of residence. At the same time, moving is a right, not an obligation: most programs do not require you to live in the country.

2
Create a safe haven

An investor with a residence permit can enter the country at any time, even when entry may be denied to foreigners with valid visas. The residency allows you to travel visa-free to the country at any time, including when a state of emergency is declared in your country of origin.

3
Travel visa-free to the Schengen countries

Investors with a Portugal, Greece, Spain, or Italy residence permit or Malta or Cyprus permanent residence can spend up to 90 days in any 180 days in the Schengen countries without a visa. The time spent in the country issuing the residence permit is not taken into account during this period.

4
Obtaining European citizenship

An application for citizenship can be submitted after 5-10 years of residence. Portugal, Malta, Cyprus, and Italy recognise dual citizenship.

5
Business opportunities

Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, and Malta allow Golden Visa holders to register companies there. This simplifies conducting a business or expanding it, for example, entering new markets.

6
Access to European education and healthcare systems

The children of investors residing in Europe can study at schools and universities in the country that issued the residence permit. All family members included in the application have access to high-quality medical services in European clinics.

7
Tax benefits

An investor can take advantage of the country’s tax system by becoming a tax resident, starting a company, or using their preferential status to reduce their tax obligations legally.

8
Initial investment returned

Most residence permit programs by investment allow a significant part of the initial investment to be returned after the investor is granted permanent residence or citizenship. Usually, for this, the investor needs to live in the country for at least 5 years.

Need help with choosing a Golden Visa?

Our investment migration expert will analyse your case, and a Compliance Officer will conduct a preliminary Due Diligence check to estimate your chances to get the chosen Golden Visa.

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Which EU countries offer the popular Golden Visa programs?

6 EU countries offer the most favourable Golden Visa programs. Their conditions are similar but, in another way, vary for each country's minimum investment and residence requirements.

Portugal
Malta
Greece
Cyprus
Spain
Italy
Residence permit
Residence
Permanent residence
Residence
Residence permit
Residence
Permanent residence
Residence
Residence permit
Residence
Residence permit
Residence
€280,000
Min. Investment
€150,000
Min. Investment
€250,000
Min. Investment
€300,000
Min. Investment
€500,000
Min. Investment
€250,000
Min. Investment
6+ months
Application process
6-8 months
Application process
6+ months
Application process
3+ months
Application process
2-3 months
Application process
3-4 months
Application process
7 days per annum
Residence requirements
None
Residence requirements
None
Residence requirements
Visit every 2 years
Residence requirements
None
Residence requirements
None
Residence requirements

The Andorra Golden Visa can be obtained by investing €400,000. Residence permit holders can visit France and Spain without visas and get visas to the Schengen Area, the USA, Canada and other countries under a fast-track procedure. The Andorra Golden Visa is obtained mainly for tax benefits and as a «safe haven» in Europe.

Germany doesn’t have a Golden Visa program, but there is an opportunity to get a self-employment visa, which is also known as an «Entrepreneurial Visa» or «Visa for Setting Up a Business». If you are looking for an opportunity to run a business in Germany and move to the country in 6 to 8 months, it could be the way.

Portugal Golden Visa

After five years as a Portuguese Golden Visa holder, the investor and their family can apply for permanent residence or citizenship. They are allowed but not required to live in Portugal: as long as they spend at least seven days a year in the country, their residence permit remains valid.

€280,000 Property built over 30 years ago in areas being renovated
€400,000 Residential or commercial property
+5 other options in a guide

Malta Permanent Residence Programme

The status under the Malta Permanent Residence Programme is granted for life. The investor has to fulfil several investment conditions: buy or rent real estate, pay government fees and make a charitable donation. They must also confirm that they have a capital of €500,000.

€300,000 Residential property in the south of Malta or the island of Gozo
€350,000 Residential property in other regions
+4 other options in a guide

Greece Golden Visa

The Greece Golden Visa Program requires the minimum amount of investment among the residence permit programs in the European Union. Moreover, the property can be rented out. After receiving permanent residence in five years, the investor can sell the property and get the permanent residence permit.

€250,000 Residential or commercial property
+4 other options in a guide

Cyprus Golden Visa

Cyprus Golden Visa holders may not pay taxes on global income, and the country has low income and property tax rates. The corporate tax rate is only 12.5%. After 5 years of living on the island in a soft Mediterranean climate next to the sea, a permanent resident can obtain Cyprus citizenship.

€300,000 Residential property in the primary market or any commercial property
+2 other options in a guide

Spain Golden Visa

As a Spanish Golden Visa holder, the investor and their family do not need to take language and cultural exams to obtain this type of residence permit for 5 years. Also, they are not required to spend time in Spain, and the law allows investment property to be rented out.

€500,000 Purchase residential or commercial property
+4 other options in a guide

Italy Golden Visa

The Italian residence permit is issued for two years. It can then be extended for three years provided that the investment is maintained. Investors are not required to live in Italy if they do not want to obtain citizenship. Investors get citizenship by naturalisation under general conditions after 10 years of living in the country.

€250,000 Invest in innovative start-ups
+2 other options in a guide

What other countries offer
Golden Visas?

The UAE Golden Visa grants 10-year residence to investors and their families. It gives opportunities to optimise taxation and keep country residents’ benefits without the obligation to live in the UAE. For now, it can be obtained by the investment of AED 5 million in real estate or AED 10 million in a business or a deposit. The visa is valid for five to ten years.

In 2022, the new conditions have been approved by the government, with an investment amount of AED 2 million, no restrictions on the time of stay in other countries, and an opportunity to buy off-plan properties. However, the new rules are still clarified in the Dubai Land Department, so there’s no particular date for them to come into force.

Meanwhile, investors may obtain a UAE Residence visa by purchasing properties. The minimum investment amount is AED 750,000 for a 3-year visa and AED 2 million for a 5-year one.

AED 5 million Investments in a property
+3 other options in a guide

Canada Golden Visa (Quebec Immigrant Investor Program) offers residency to wealthy business people worldwide if they contribute CAD 1,2 million. Investors, their spouses or common-law partners, and their minor children may get Canadian permanent residence.

The application intake is paused until April 1, 2023.

How to get Canada residency by investment

The USA Golden Visa (EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program) offers residency for investors and their families if they invest $800,000 into a company, creating at least ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers. Investors’ spouses and children under 21 may also be included in the application.

Investors get a Green Card and may apply for US citizenship after five years of residence.

Types of US visas by investment

New Zealand Golden Visa could be obtained by investing between NZD 3 million and NZD 10 million, but this program closed on July 27, 2022. The new one is called an Active investor plus, and the minimum investment amount has been raised up to NZD 5 million.

Applicants may invest in businesses and some kinds of assets. Also, they are obliged to spend at least 177 days in four years in New Zealand.

How to obtain a New Zealand investor visa

The UK closed its Golden Visa program (Tier 1 Investor Visa) in February 2022. For now, investors have to choose one of the other routes to migrate to the UK, for example, running a business there.

You may apply for a Start-up Visa by opening a prospective company with an endorsement of an authorised body. This visa is valid for two years only, and extension is prohibited, but you can switch to an Innovator visa to stay longer.

If you want to run an innovative business in the UK, which differs from everything on the market, an Innovator visa may suit you. This visa is valid for three years, and you may extend it an unlimited number of times.

Requirements for UK business visas

Switzerland residence permits can be issued to foreigners that have concluded a tax agreement with one of the cantons. According to this agreement, an HNWI pays an annual lump-sum tax, which is calculated individually according to their worldwide expenses and the canton’s requirements. Usually, it is ₣450,000 or more.

Swiss residence permit holders are obliged to spend 183+ days a year in the country. And they may apply for citizenship after ten years of residence.

How to immigrate to Switzerland

Germany provides residence permits to foreigners who intend to start a business in the country or want to live there as financially independent persons. In the first case, one should provide a business plan and sufficient funds to open a company, and in the second case, proof of funds to support the family is required.

After three to five years of living in Germany, you may apply for permanent residency, and the minimum required period to apply for citizenship is six years. Germany doesn’t allow dual citizenship aside from some exceptions, so many expats choose permanent residence as a life-long status.

How to obtain German citizenship

Ireland Golden Visa (The Immigrant Investor Programme) can be obtained for an investment of €400,000+. The lowest investment amount is required for a charitable donation; investment in a business or an investment fund is €1 million, and purchasing shares in a real estate investment fund requires €2 million. Each option, except donation, allows one to return the funds after three years.

The first residence permit is valid for two years, the second — for three years, and all the subsequent ones are for five years. To apply for citizenship, one must live in Ireland for at least five years.

The details of Ireland residency by investment

What are the Golden Visas requirements for applicants?

A specific list of requirements for applicants depends on the program you choose. But there are some general points in all Golden Visas terms.

Investors should comply with the following requirements to get a Golden Visa card:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Own money for investment earned not in the country of the program they apply for
  • Have no criminal record or prosecution
  • Be able to prove the legality of income
  • Not be under sanctions
  • Have health insurance

Some countries have other demands: for example, an applicant should not have any debts in Portugal to get its Golden Visas card. Also, in most cases, one should have rented or own housing in the country to apply for a residence permit.

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How to apply for a Golden Visa?

Every Golden Visa program has its application procedure, but some steps are standard. Usually, an applicant should fulfil the chosen investment condition, for example, buy a property or open a business, collect all the required documents and apply for a residence permit.

A government unit or agency responsible for the program conducts Due Diligence and decides whether to issue a Golden Visas card or not.

The first step for a successful application is a choice of an agent, a consulting company that helps investors get residency. With Immigrant Invest, you’ll get a personal approach to your case and assistance at every stage, from the collection of documents to Golden Visas card renewals.

Show more

The average Golden Visa application process

1
Turning to a licensed agent
You discuss your case with investment migration experts, undergo preliminary Due Diligence, and sign a contract.
2
Fulfilment of the investment condition
Applicants buy real estate or invest in businesses or securities.
3
Preparation of documents and submission of the application
Investors and lawyers collect all the documents, copies and forms needed and submit the application.
4
Due Diligence
The unit responsible for the program checks if the applicants are eligible to get a Golden Visa.
5
Getting a residence
permit card
The cards are issued after the approval and fingerprinting.
6
Renewal of a residence
permit card
Investors apply for card renewal after 1 to 5 years, depending on the program.

Which country is best for a Golden Visa?

Which Golden Visa to choose depends on your goals, budget and plans for obtaining citizenship in the future. See comparison in our short lists below, which could help you narrow down your options.

Priority of travelling visa-free

Travel visa-free to the Schengen countries for 90 days in any 180 days

Lower cost

Minimum investment

Malta
€150,000 See detailed guide
Portugal
€250,000 See detailed guide
Greece
€250,000 See detailed guide
Italy
€250,000 See detailed guide

Apply for citizenship in 5 years

Subject to maintaining the residence permit or permanent residence and passing the required exams

Infrequent renewal of the residence card

Renew a residence permit or permanent residence card every five years or not renew at all

Total comparison of 6 EU Golden Visa programs

  • Cost calculation
  • Family members participation
  • Investment options comparison
  • Benefits of each Golden Visa
Download complete guide
PDF, 15 pages, 2.6 MB

Answers to frequently asked questions

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a residency by investment program. In other words, it is one of the fastest ways for wealthy families to become legal residents of a foreign country.

What are the benefits of Golden Visas?

The advantages of a Golden Visa depend on the country where you would like to apply for it. Golden Visas of European countries have a lot of common benefits, such as visa-free traveling to the Schengen area and an opportunity to get it for all family members.

In contrast, the UAE Golden Visa has its own benefits — for example, tax optimisation and very favourable conditions about staying in the country.

Which countries offer Golden Visas?

6 EU countries offer the most favourable Golden Visa programs. Their conditions are similar but, in another way, vary for each country’s minimum investment and residence requirements.

The Andorra Golden Visa can be obtained by investing €400,000 mainly for tax benefits and as a «safe haven» in Europe.

The UAE Golden Visa enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100% ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland. These visas will be issued for 5 or 10 years and will be renewed automatically.

Who can apply for a Golden Visa?

European Golden Visa programs can be granted to:

  • Non-EU citizen
  • Over 18 years old
  • No criminal record
  • Income from a proven legal source

The UAE Golden Visa can be granted to investors, entrepreneurs, people with specialised talents, researchers in various fields of science and knowledge, and bright students with promising scientific capabilities.

Which family members can get Golden Visas together with the investor?

Participation of family members varies from a program to program. In most of the cases a Golden Visa can be granted to spouses, children up to 18 years old and parents, in some cases – to children over 18 years old, siblings and grandparents.

Download our detailed guide to see the opportunities of family members participation.

What are investment options to obtain a Golden Visa?

Buying real estate: €250,000
Purchasing units in investment funds: €300,000
Investing in business: €250,000
Placing a deposit in a bank in the country: €400,000
Purchasing government bonds: €2,000,000

How much does a Golden Visa cost in the UAE?

To qualify for the 5-year UAE Golden Visa, you have to invest at least AED 5 million. To qualify for the 10-year UAE Golden Visa, you have to invest at least AED 10 million.

Which country has the cheapest Golden Visa?

3 European countries offer minimum investment of €250,000:
Portugal
Greece
Italy

How long is a Golden Visa valid?

The validity period of a Golden Visa depends on the country. For example, in Portugal, a residence permit by investment is valid for 1—2 years; in Greece, the document must be renewed every five years.

Also, the obtained status is essential. Usually, temporary residence permits are valid for 1—3 years, and a permanent residence card may be renewed less frequently. For example, in Cyprus, a permanent residence card is issued indefinitely.

Do Golden Visas lead to citizenship?

Yes, most Golden Visas allow one to apply for citizenship by naturalisation. To get a passport, an investor should reside in the country for several years, learn its language, and integrate into local society.

The most convenient way to citizenship for investors is offered in Portugal. The Golden Visa holders must maintain their residency for five years, meaning they should spend seven days in the country every year. In other countries, living there for most of the year is required, and the period of residence for applying for citizenship can be 7—10 years.

What were Golden Visa programs cancelled?

Some countries close their residency and citizenship-by-investment programs due to inner reasons, and others — under the pressure of external regulators.

The UK closed its Tier 1 Investor Visa in 2022. The government appealed to the assumption that unreliable investors could have received a visa if the program had continued to operate.

Cyprus closed its citizenship by investment program in November 2020 due to violating the procedures. And at the end of 2022, Montenegro will stop its citizenship by investment program because it may cause a delay in the country’s accession to the European Union.

A program’s closure doesn’t mean that all the applicants won’t get their residence permits. As a rule, program units continue to consider the applications already submitted.

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