Vienna, Austria

The Connection Between Investing and Thereby Obtaining a European Residency

By Dr Jörg Winkler, Hasberger_Seitz & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Four EU member states currently sell passports and 13 trade with residency rights through “golden visa schemes”. From 2008 to 2018, the EU welcomed more than 6,000 new citizens and close to 100,000 new residents through golden visa schemes. Spain, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, and the UK have granted the highest numbers of golden visas – more than 10,000 each – to investors and their families. Next in line are Greece, Cyprus, and Malta.

EU golden visa schemes require varying amounts of investment. Residency can cost EUR 250,000 in Greece and Latvia, EUR 500,000 in Portugal, Italy, and Macedonia, while a Cypriot passport can cost EUR 2 million. In Austria it realistically starts with a minimum investment of EUR 10 million, although the law does not offcially tag the Austrian passport with a price. The average cost of an entry ticket into the EU is around EUR 900,000.

Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, and the UK appear to be the top earners, each receiving annually, on average, EUR 976 million, EUR 914 million, EUR 617 million, and EUR 498 million, respectively, through these schemes.

Why Bother Investing in Such a Programme?

From freedom to travel, to having a plan “B” just in case, for whatever personal or other circumstances, one must leave their home country. Considering that in emerging market countries with a (less) emerging democracy the possibility of gaining big wealth on the one hand often combines with high political risks on the other hand, a second citizenship can be an insurance against extradition or any other not-so-democratic act – the top nationalities granted passports or visas through golden visa schemes are Chinese and Russian.

But there are other reasons, too:

Taxes

In October 2018, the OECD published a report aimed at countering international tax evasion. After analysing golden visa programmes operated by 100 countries, the OECD created a “blacklist” of 100 countries. They said these countries attract investors by offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets. Furthermore, these countries do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the country. Three European countries, Malta, Monaco, and Cyprus, were on that list. Most importantly, Spain, Portugal, and Greece are the only three European countries that offer a golden visa through property investment that are not on the OECD Blacklist.

Passport Strength

Malta, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are countries which sell a passport right away, and these have a high passport strength too. Other countries (e.g., Portugal, Greece, etc.) offer a passport after some time of “living there” (seven years as the given example). Only in Portugal does one have the (negligible) obligation to reside in the country, for at least seven days per year.

Even living in a country with better educational or healthcare systems may be a great motive to move for a family.

In conclusion, golden visas are one of the fastest and easiest ways to obtain at least a residence permit, if not citizenship, even though it is one of the more expensive ways to do so. For the countries which offer such programmes there is, money-wise, just a big plus on the balance sheet.


Dr Jörg Winkler

Dr Jörg Winkler

GGI member firm
Hasberger_Seitz & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH
Law Firm Services
Vienna, Austria
T: +43 1 533 0533
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Hasberger_Seitz & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH is an Austrian independent, full-service business law firm with a strong international focus. Since its foundation in September 1997, it has prided itself on a flexible approach to schedules and venues, close cooperation with GGI members from around the globe, and a work ethic defined by quick reaction times, efficiency, and commitment. It covers a particularly wide range of legal services in the fields of private and public law, providing customised solutions for business and private clients.

Dr Jörg Winkler has been managing and equity partner at HSP since 2008. He and his team specialise in all aspects of immigration and Austrian investments.


Published: Real Estate Newsletter, No. 11, Spring 2020 l Photo: TTstudio - stock.adobe.com

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