European Golden Visa Programs

Prabhu Balakrishnan Avatar
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Golden visa programs in Europe are essentially permanent residency programs against an investment such as in real estate, business enterprises or buying bonds or share capital.  Buying a property is a straight forward process to get a golden visa. Instant citizenship is not possible through golden visas.

There are few big advantages which golden visa programs offer.

  • Free movement in Schengen area
  • No requirement to live permanently in Europe (must visit once in 2 years)
  • EU residence permit to all family members

Portugal, United Kingdom, Latvia and Belgium are the most popular golden visa programs in Europe.

1. Latvia

Latvia requires about €100,000 business investment in Latvia and create jobs.  Property investment is more expensive €270,000 for golden visa. You can receive permanent residency in 2 months. Latvian citizenship after 9 years of living. Latvia is in schengen.

2. Belgium

Belgium requires about €350,000 first year investment in a business in Belgium for a golden visa. You can receive temporary residency in 2 months and citizenship after 5 years of living. Belgium is a great country, to live and do business in Europe.

3. United Kingdom

UK has cheaper version of tier1 program requiring only £200,000 investment to get an entrepreneur visa.  The investment requires you do business in the UK and create jobs.  You may also settle there with family.  The UK program is still of interest to many because of cheaper pound value because of Brexit. It will take 6 years of living to get british passport.  UK will divorce from Europe in 2018 as a result of Brexit. There is a tier1 high value investor program to receive residency in the UK, with the fastest processing time 2 months, if you can afford GBP 2,000,000 in Government bonds or bank account.

4. Greece

Greece requires about €250,000 investment in real estate to receive a golden visa. You can receive permanent residency in 2 months. Greece is in schengen. Citizenship after 7 years of living. Greece is the cheapest and most popular golden visa scheme in Europe after Portugal.

5. Malta

Malta requires about €250,000 investment in government bonds to receive permanent residency in Malta. Plus there is government contribution €30,000. Maltese citizenship after living 5 years. There is no requirement to live or reside in Malta under the program. You may have to visit Malta once in one or two years to renew your residence permits. Malta is in schengen.

6. Netherlands

Netherlands has a cheaper version of golden visa program requiring little less than €200,000 investment for 5 years to qualify for a golden visa with permanent residency. You can qualify for dutch residence permit with spouse and children. Access to dutch citizenship after 5 to 6 years of living in Netherlands.


8. Cyprus

Cyprus requires you to invest €300,000 plus VAT (19%) in a immovable property in Cyprus to receive permanent residency under golden visa scheme. Keep in mind that Cyprus is not in schengen so for non-eu persons your permanent residency visa will not give access to schengen zone.  You need Visa! Cyprus is not the country for you if you want visa free movement in schengen countries.

9. Portugal

Portugal is the best and most popular golden visa program in Europe requiring €350,000 property investment for a permanent residency. You have to visit Portugal once a year to keep your permits valid. There are cheaper routes but the application process is complicated and there is a chance you may not be approved of golden visa.  Golden visa laws in Portugal have provisions for access to Portugese citzenship after 6 years of living. Portugese real estate market is on a boom and expect good returns on your investment.  Portugese golden visa investments crossed 3 billion euros in 2017.

10. Spain

Spain requires you to invest or purchase €500,000 in an immovable property to receive spanish golden visa with permanent residency including family members. You are required to visit Spain once in one or two years. Spanish real estate market soared in recent years and big property investments in luxury properties bring profitable rentals. Access to spanish citizenship possible after 10 years of uninterrupted living in Spain.  You are not required to live permanently in Spain after receiving golden visa. Spanish golden visa program received 2 billion euro investment in 2017.

11. Ireland

Ireland offers investor visas €1,000,000 in Irish enterprise projects.  One of the important requirements to receive irish residency is robust business plan and create jobs employing local people. Spouse and children also qualify for irish residence permit if shown evidence of financial support. Citizenship in Ireland possible after 5 years of living. Debts or loans not permitted.

12. Italy

Italy launched investor visa scheme in Dec 2017. Italy requires about €500,000 investment in an italian startup business to receive temporary residence permit  (also known as golden visa) valid for 2 years in Italy. There are no minimum residency requirements. The investment must create more italian jobs and most importantly bring economic benefit to Italy. Access to Italian citizenship after 10 years of living and passing italian language test.

13. Germany

Germany requires about €300,000 business investment in new or existing german companies with the requirement of creating jobs.  German citizenship after 8 years of living in Germany.

14. Croatia

Croatia requires about €100,000 business investment in new or existing german companies with the requirement of creating jobs to receive long term residency in Croatia.  Croatian citizenship after 8 years of living in Croatia without interruption.  Please note Croatia is not in Schengen.

15. Ukraine

Ukraine requires about €200,000 to receive a business investment visa. Please note Ukraine is not in Schengen. Recently Ukraine passport holders have been approved of visa free travel to schengen zone, so Ukraine passport has become very valuable.  Ukraine citizenship possible after having resided in Ukraine for at least five years, being able to function in the Ukrainian language, and being knowledgeable of the Ukrainian Constitution. The individual is required to voluntarily renounce any foreign citizenships they may hold.

16. Romania

Romania requires about €100,000 to receive an investment visa with temporary residency in Romania. Please note Romania is not in Schengen zone.  Access to Romanian citizenship after 8 years of living uninterrupted in Romania.

17. Hungary

Golden visa program in Hungary is closed. 

18. Georgia

Georgia issues residence permits given to foreign investors who invest over € 110,000 euros (GEL 300,000 lari) in businesses in Georgia. It is called “Investment residence permit” is issued to a foreign citizen who invested at least GEL 300 000 in Georgia. The permit is also issued to investors family members – spouse and children.  Investment residence permit to investors are issued for an indefinite term.  Georgian citizenship/passport after 5 years of living in Georgia. Please note Georgia is not in Schengen. Recently EU approved visa fee travel to schengen countries for Georgian citizens, making the value of Georgia passport all the more valuable.

19. Montenegro

Montenegro opened new citizenship by investment scheme in 2019. Under the scheme requires about EUR 350,000 investment (donation + real estate) in development projects. Residency is issued first before it is converted to citizenship.

Montenegro is outside Schengen area.

20. Moldova

Moldova requires about USD 250,000 investment in the country business projects with job creation. There is a citizenship by investment program which may open soon requiring $100,000 investment donation or $250,000 real estate investment. Moldova is outside Schengen Area.

21. Serbia

Serbia has a citizenship by investment program which requires $100,000 contribution or $200,000 investment in real estate. Serbia is outside Schengen Area.

22. Switzerland

Switzerland requires USD 1,000,000 investment in a business and must create jobs for swiss people. It is also possible to invest in swiss real estate market. The immigration requirements are very strict with Switzerland for foreigners receiving settlement permits in Switzerland which is usually after 10 years of living. Swiss citizenship after 12 years.

23. Jersey

Jersey part of Channel islands (UK) has high value residency program admitting rich foreigners to settle in Jersey.  To become a resident in Jersey, you must pay GBP 125,000 in taxes and must have enough financial means to support yourself. Investment in real estate in the island starts with GBP 1,000,000

24. Monaco

Monaco in the french riviera, requires a total of USD 1,000,000 invested in 50% bank account and 50% in a property to receive residency status. Monaco is an ideal country for ultra rich to settle in Europe.

25. Ireland

Ireland requires about EUR 1,000,000 investment in the irish immigrant investor program. There is also cheaper entrepreneur program version which requires about EUR 50,000 to receive residency in Ireland.

26. Andorra

Andorra provides residency to wealthy foreign entrepreneurs who invest EUR 400,000 investment in real estate, share capital or bonds. Andorra is not a member of EU or Schengen Area. There are no personal tax, no wealth tax , 10% income tax, 10% corporate tax, no capital gains, no dividend taxes or estate duty taxes.