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European‌ ‌Residency‌ ‌&‌ ‌Citizenship‌ ‌by‌ ‌real‌ ‌estate‌ ‌investment:‌ ‌best‌ ‌programs‌ ‌of‌ ‌2021-2022‌

Kemal Nicholson
16 November 2021

The world’s elite pursues an elevated lifestyle through enhanced global mobility, superior financial freedom, contingency planning, heightened Return on Investment, and increased business opportunities. Since its modern introduction in 1984, Residency and Citizenship by Investment (RCBI) provides a pathway to get this desired lifestyle and has gained immense popularity among the wealthy.

Several European countries have residence and citizenship by investment: Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, Spain, and Latvia to name a few all allow investors to get residence cards if they invest in the country. Each country has a distinct route to residence or citizenship through channels set by the governments to boost the nation’s economy and award the investors.

Since one of the most effortless routes to an EU residence and citizenship is to invest in real estate, in this article we will discuss the best residence and citizenship by Real Estate investment programs in Europe. As they vary greatly in their characteristics, we will detail their different schemes, specific requirements, and many benefits.

Residence by Investment in the Schengen Area or the EU

Which European countries offer residence and citizenship by investment in real estate?

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Malta

In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta enjoys a strategic location, a stable political situation, and a wonderful climate placing it at the top of Europe’s investment locations. The island grants permanent residence to investors seeking a residence in the EU through its Permanent Residency Program (MPRP) via multiple investment options; one of which is an investment by purchasing a property of €350,000 (or €300,000 in Gozo or South Malta), or leasing property for €12,000 annually (or €10,000 in Gozo or South Malta).

The Maltese program has a processing time of four to six months and allows investors to include their spouses, children, parents, and grandparents in their application. Once the applicant does get the residence, they and their family will have the right to live in Malta and travel in the entire Schengen Area visa-free.

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Cyprus

Cyprus, famous for its outstanding wine, mineral wealth, and low cost of living, owns a very straightforward residence by investment program. With no restrictions on the period of stay in Cyprus, the Cypriot government offers permanent residence under the fast-track route for non-EU nationals and their family members if they purchase real estate, whether residential or commercial, of a value of a minimum of €300,000. Issued within two to three months from the date of submission of application, the Cypriot residence cards if you invest in the country are valid for life provided that the investor and their dependents visit Cyprus once every two years, at least.

It is noteworthy that Cyprus also has a non-fast track to permanent residence by investment, which takes a longer time of 15 months on average. This route differs from the fast track one mainly by limiting the required minimum investment to residential properties of at least €150,000 and restricting the eligible family members to the spouse and children aged 18 or younger. But for both routes, all properties in the country are eligible and can be rented out after acquisition.

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Portugal

The residence by investment program that has recently become the go-to choice is Portugal’s golden visa. The simple and affordable program lets investors get the golden visa in one of the world’s utmost peaceful countries that is known for its sophisticated level of political and societal security. Investors can obtain residence through various ventures, but the one must applicants choose to invest in to get the golden visa is real estate.

To obtain a Portuguese golden visa, the investor can choose to either invest in a property for €500,000, €350,000 if in a rehabilitation area of 30 years or older, or €280,000 if it is in a low density area to get the golden visa. Actually, Portuguese real estate acquisition has tremendously risen in popularity over the past five years, as 90% of applicants acquired their residency through this investment route.

If the investor and their dependent family members hold on to their investment for five years and spend seven days annually in Portugal, their Portuguese residency will deem them eligible for citizenship and passport. A person can obtain Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of residency. The citizenship application through the golden visa requires applicants only to reside seven days a year for each one of their years of residency in order to obtain citizenship within five years. There is no need to invest any further than the original investment to obtain citizenship.

Although Portugal’s Golden Visa program will undergo changes in 2022, it remains a global favorite and an easy path to a prestigious quality of life in a strategic location. 

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Greece

Another country with a similar residency by investment program is Greece, a Golden Visa with a cost-effective option for investors who want to get a European residence permit. Invest in property for only €250,000, and the investor, their spouse, and children get a five-year residency permit. What makes the Greek Golden Visa competitive is its lower investment threshold in comparison to other European countries with a Golden visa, making it a cost-effective program for those looking to invest in a second residence permit.

Without any language or residency requirements, Greece allows the investor to include their immediate family members in their Golden Visa application. In a timeline of around three months, the main applicant and their dependents will obtain their residency permit by investment, which will then grant them visa-free access to the Schengen countries.

The real estate investment options in Greece are various. Other than the €250,000 property purchase and its retainment for a minimum of five years, the applicant can alternatively invest in a five-year lease agreement of a hotel accommodation, a ten-year lease agreement of touristic complexes, a piece of land to be used for farming or construction, or a share in a touristic property. All of these options, however, require a five-year ownership period but can be rented out after purchase.

Greece’s residency permit is issued for five years and can be extended for another five years. If the investor resided in Greece for seven years, they would be able to apply for citizenship. The citizenship of a European Union member state is privileged with access to both the Schengen Zone and the European Union countries, and state-of-the-art healthcare and education.

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Spain

Spain, the land of Siesta and Paella, has its own Golden Visa program that was launched in September 2013. Spain’s residency by investment program grants investors and entrepreneurs the right to live, study, and work in Spain if they make a substantial investment of a minimum of €500,000 in real estate. The property can be a single unit or numerous, but must be worth at least €500,000 regardless.

When choosing a property investment, the investor should take into consideration the location and type of property. Even though the prices of properties in Spain have declined in recent years, which means good potential for capital gains in the future, the investor is advised to be careful in their choice of real estate as it is vital to the success of the Golden Visa process.

Spain is a sought-after destination for many individuals for its unique culture, rich history, and stunning beaches. Under its Golden Visa program, the Spanish government awards the investor with freedom of movement throughout the EU, access to world-class healthcare, and excellent international schools in return for an investment that would enhance the country’s economy. Spain’s temporary residency by investment ranks 5th on the Global Residence Program Index and can be renewed without living in the country.

Once the applicant meets all the requirements, pays the appropriate fees, and displays a clean criminal record and good health, the residence permit usually takes about 20 days to be issued. The applicant needs to maintain their investment if they wish to renew their residence permit, which is done upon request. The renewal is due every two years, and it would be possible to obtain permanent residence after 5 years, and citizenship after ten years depending on certain conditions.  

Residency by Real Estate Investment in Latvia

In July 2010, Latvia launched its residency by investment program to control the economic crisis that started in 2007. The Latvian Golden Visa’s value proposition lies in its real estate investment being inexpensive and lavish at the same time. In addition to the quality of real estate in Latvia, its market offers a wide spectrum of tastes and budgets.

With only a minimum of €250,000, foreign investors get to purchase a luxurious property in an unusually beautiful country on the Baltic coast and subsequently obtain temporary residency by investment in Latvia.

Latvia’s Golden Visa program does not require a language proficiency nor residence in the country beforehand, and the application process normally takes from one to three months – making it one of the fastest Golden Visas in the EU.  The main applicant can include dependents such as their spouse and minor children to their application for their family members to obtain the Latvian residence permit as well.

Some of the benefits of Latvia’s Golden Visa include visa-free travel to the Schengen zone and great transport links to both Russia and the EU. In the case that the applicant decides to renew their temporary residence permit to spend more time in the country, they will be eligible for a permanent residence after five years, if they physically reside in Latvia for four years.

Residency by R Investment in the United Kingdom

Another country with a quite popular residence by investment program, especially among the Chinese and Russians, is the United Kingdom. Perhaps more costly, but the United Kingdom has plenty to offer through its Tier 1 investor visa that leads to permanent residence in the country.

You can obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by an investment of at least GBP 2 million. In opposition to Portugal and Greece and others, investing is not through purchase of real estate but in share or loan capital in the UK.

This minimum investment makes you eligible for UK citizenship after 5 years, if you live in the country for that entire period. A British citizenship and passport grants access to free healthcare, and visa-free travel to 139 countries around the world.

Unlock your freedom and create your personal world without borders!

We have prepared an overview of Residency and Citizenship-by-Investment programs. This is a detailed guide on how you can get a 2 passport and obtain Citizenship- and Residence-by-Investment legally, without having to worry about the hassle of getting a visa.

Real Estate Citizenship by Investment in Europe

Plenty of countries in the world offer citizenship and passport if you invest in their real estate market. Since a citizenship within the EU is particularly desirable, this section highlights a few of our favorite citizenship by investment programs.

 

Citizenship by Investment in Malta

Malta, the world’s 10th tiniest country, launched an updated Citizenship by Investment (CIP) program in November 2020 as a replacement for its Immigrant Investor Program (IIP). Under Malta’s regulations of “Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment”, eligible investors can include their parents, grandparents, and children in their application to obtain Maltese citizenship and passport, one of the top ten strongest passports worldwide.

For their citizenship application to be successful, the investor must demonstrate a clean criminal record, reside in Malta for a minimum of 12 months, and either purchase a property in the country for at least €700,000 and maintain its ownership for five years, or lease property of a minimum annual rent of €16,000 for five years.

The Maltese passport allows travel visa-free to 185 destinations, largely easing the investor’s global mobility and international business activities. Malta’s strict due diligence process maintains a high quality of applicants, and the country has no restrictions on dual citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment in Montenegro

Another Citizenship by Investment program is Montenegro’s, Europe’s famous tourist destination. Like its neighboring countries, Montenegro’s government introduced a citizenship by investment program in 2019 to attract foreign direct investment and boost the country’s economy.

In real estate, Montenegro owns a hybrid investment route that leads directly to citizenship; a minimum of €250,000 in real estate projects in the northern or central areas of Montenegro excluding Podgorica, its capital city, as well as a donation of €100,000 to the government.

There is a second route to getting a Montenegrin passport; a minimum investment of €450,000 in real estate projects in the capital city of Podgorica or the coastal region in addition to the government donation of €100,000. These defined contributions have total sums of €350,000 and €550,000, respectively, and aim at the country’s development projects.

Though Montenegro is not currently an EU country, but seems likely for EU accession in 2025. A Montenegrins passport grants its holder visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 137 countries, including Russia, Turkey, the Schengen zone, and others. Though small in its size, Montenegro is a diverse country with a multinational community, magnificent natural beauty, unlimited adventure, and historic towns.

The applicant is allowed to add their family members to the applications, and the processing time is approximately six months from submission. However, Note that Montenegro’s program is set to close in January of 2022.

Citizenship by Investment in Turkey

The Turkish government launched the citizenship by investment program in 2017, and since then, it has been doing notably well. A minimum investment of USD 250,000 in real estate will get the applicant, their spouse, and children immediate citizenship and passport of Turkey.

Turkey has recorded the highest published number of naturalization since it introduced its citizenship by investment program. The process of investing the minimum amount in real estate in Turkey is rather simple and takes only three to six months to obtain citizenship as long as you keep the investment for three years or more.

Like Montenegro, Turkey is not an EU country (yet), but its passport allows its holder to travel freely to 111 destinations around the world, including visa-free travel to Japan and Singapore and qualifies for the US E2 investor visa for 5 years.

Benefits of European Residency by Investment programs

In the following section, we will explain why you should consider residency by investment, not only for your advantage as a high net-worth individual, but for your entire family’s too.

Freedom of Mobility

The aforementioned European programs offer remarkable benefits in exchange of the required investment in real estate, the first of which is freedom of mobility. Our world may seem like a small village with the recent advancement of technology, but in reality, many people face challenges related to complex border control and travel across countries. With the acquisition of a residency permit by investment, investors are rewarded with freedom of travel to be wherever they want to be.

All of Europe’s residency and citizenship by investment schemes offer visa-free access to several destinations worldwide, without the hassle of prolonged visa applications. For example, a residency permit in Greece allows unrestrained travel in the entire Schengen Area, which consists of 26 European countries.

For non-EU nationals and nationals of countries like Iraq and India who hold a weaker passport, this increased global mobility through a European residence permit saves a huge amount of time and effort otherwise spent on visa applications.

Business Opportunities

Consequently, freedom of mobility facilitates international business. It would be easier to attend a conference in Brussels per se whenever needed, conduct global business activities, and further explore new business opportunities which in turn leads to more income. For instance, the investor can set up shop in one of Europe’s member states, like Portugal, and benefit of its strong market and economy.

Tax Optimization

Another advantage of residency by investment is tax optimization. Investors continuously seek to better manage their taxes, and Europe’s favorable tax policies allow them to efficiently handle their wealth. For residents of high tax nations, such as the United States and Japan, those who get a residency and second citizenship of a tax-friendly country, such as Ireland or Grenada, provides them with enhanced financial freedom, and a more tolerant tax regime. Grenada, which has a citizenship by investment option, is a great option for US citizens as a citizen of Grenada can apply for the US E2 visa, allowing any US citizen to get a Grenada passport, renouncing their US passport, and keep living in the US as a Grenada citizen after they get the E2 visa.

Return on Investment

Investing in real estate in Europe also helps in diversifying your assets in different countries and hence resulting in added profits. The ‘investment’ part is an important aspect, a good real estate deal adds to the investor’s portfolio and generates a Return on Investment.

Family Factors

Family factors play an integral piece in Golden Visa programs, as family members can be added to the application for them to enjoy the same benefits. Children would resume their education in pioneer institutions throughout the EU, and could later pursue a higher education smoothly, without the need of third-party consultancies or lawyers.

A European permanent residency opens doors to the best schools and qualifies the applicant and their family members for domestic tuition fees instead of higher international ones. Career prospects also expand with a residency permit in the EU, providing the investor’s family members with bigger employment opportunities, and assisting them in reaching their full potential.

Furthermore, residence by investment offers the applicant and their family access to upper-level healthcare systems. Malta and Greece excel in healthcare, and the EU is full of superior healthcare facilities, both public and private, ready to accommodate individuals and ensure a better quality of life. This guarantees that the investor’s spouse, children, and forthcoming generations have all the access they need for a brighter future.

The benefits additionally include relief from political instability on the assumption that the investor’s home country is experiencing any turbulence. Whether or not the investor decided to reside in the EU, a European residence permit would act as a perfect plan B shall the investor desire increased security, protection from climate change or socio-economic implications. They can also lead to citizenship, as many countries offer citizenship for those who reside in their country for a certain amount of time.

Crypto-currency Trading

One more benefit of European residence permit is crypto-currency trading, a key aspect in today’s world. Investors who deal with cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are now on the lookout for countries that facilitate its utilization and trade.

According to data from Chainalysis, a Blockchain platform, crypto transaction volumes in the EU took off in 2020 and now accounts for 25% of worldwide crypto-currency activity. As China banned mining for Bitcoin which caused its transaction volumes to drop, Europe is now the largest crypto-currency economy in the world, receiving more than €870 billion in crypto just last year.

What can Migronis do for you?

We at Migronis can help you create the ultimate portfolio of passports and residencies to become the optimal global citizen, with no boundaries or regimes holding you back. Our expertise in investment migration with our customer-centric approach allows us to decipher your needs and situation, we then research the best options and provide you with the ultimate route to complete global freedom for you and your family.

How to choose a country?

As it has been pointed out in this article, there are numerous European countries with a Golden Visa program. Each has a distinct set of requirements that you need to fulfill for your application to be successful. While few countries have the same requirements, and even benefits, others have notable differences that could possibly influence your choice of the right residency by investment program for you, your family, and your wealth.

Initially, some common requirements entail clean criminal records, good health, legal sources of investment funds, and government-approved real estate option. But then, how would you know which residency by investment program is best for you? In this section, we will touch on program-specific characteristics that would help you select the proper residency permit that better suit your personal needs.

Your country of origin is essential to your decision-making process. Nationals of the Middle East, for instance, seek a secondary residency market in a location with a collective community of similar values and culture. Therefore, in this case, Malta is an appealing choice for Middle Eastern investors for reasons such as its language and cuisine.

Another factor that drives your European Golden Visa selection is the cost of the minimum investment, side-by-side with its benefits. The cheapest programs might look more attractive for some investors, so if your main concern is to get the most affordable Golden Visa, then the top two cheapest ones that have the lowest investment requirements in real estate are Cyprus’ €150,000 (through its non-fast track), and Greece’s and Latvia’s €250,000, respectively.

If you are willing to leap into the upper range, Portugal offers its laid-back lifestyle for a minimum of €280,000, €350,000, or €500,000, depending on the location. Presuming you want a direct route to get citizenship by investment, Turkey offers its citizenship with a minimum investment of USD 250,000.

While all of Europe’s Golden visas grant visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, and superb healthcare and education, the programs are not precisely equal. When comparing residency by investment programs, bear in mind the number of family dependents you can include in your application, the number of times you need to visit the country all through the process, and the number of days you need to reside in the country to meet the requirements.

Further aspects to consider are tax obligations, eligibility to work, and the ability to obtain citizenship after a specified period of time. You ought to evaluate each country’s Golden Visa program based on your priorities and circumstances.

With the variety of Golden Visa programs that exist in Europe alone, and with more emerging in the near future, choosing the right program and finding the right real estate to purchase might seem like a difficult task. But eventually, it all comes down to your personal preferences and needs, as there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to Golden Visas and citizenship by investment.

Comparative table of European temporary and permanent residency by investment programs

  Portugal (temporary residence) Greece (temporary residence) Spain (temporary residence) Malta (permanent residence) Cyprus (permanent residence) Latvia (temporary residence)
Processing term From 2 to 6 months From 2 to 5 months From 4 to 7 months From 3 to 9 months Up to 2 months From 2 to 4 months
Which amount must be invested in real estate? From €280,000 From €250,000 From €500,000 Complex investment: into real estate — from €270,000 (purchase) or from €10,000 per year (rent); into government bonds — from €250,000 From €300,000 From €250,000
When can I return the investment? In 5 years After the temporary residence status annulment In 5 years In 5 years In 5 years After the temporary residence status annulment
Obligatory residency requirements 7 days during the first year, 14 during the following two years To maintain the status, one must live in the country for 7 days a year Only for those who want to apply for permanent residence No requirements No requirements No requirements
Conditions of temporary/permanent residence permit renewal Stay in the country for the required period of time Keep the ownership of real estate Visit the country once File the required documents No need to renew, issued for life Pay €5,000 in order to renew the status
Requirements for obtaining citizenship Stay in the country for 35 days within a 5-year period One can receive the country’s passport on general terms — after constantly living in the country for 7-10 years Stay in the country for at least 183 days/year for 10 years The status doesn’t lead to citizenship. One can receive citizenship on general terms — after residing in the country 5 full years + be able to prove a strong connection with the country One can receive citizenship on general terms — after residing in the country for 7-10 years Stay for 5 out of 10 years, before applying for citizenship
World income tax From 0% to 48% From 0% to 45% From 0% to 45% From 0% to 48% From 0% to 35% From 0% to 35%
Tax privileges for investors Non-Habitual Resident tax regime No No Malta Non-Dom Status tax regime No No
Real estate market situation The cost of real estate is constantly growing, which means such an investment is a good option to ensure passive income Affordable real estate prices The market situation is improving after the crisis It is reasonable to rent out housing in Malta, meanwhile, the prices on real estate are growing quite quickly Stable prices on real estate Real estate price is growing
Necessity to visit the country for obtaining and renewing temporary residence permit An applicant must visit Portugal to open a bank account An applicant must visit Greece to receive a temporary resident card An applicant must visit Spain once An applicant must visit the country to receive a permanent resident card Adult applicants must visit Cyprus to sign documents An applicant must visit Latvia to obtain documents

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    Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

    Can you get citizenship by buying a real estate?

    Yes, various countries around the globe offer citizenship for a minimum investment amount in real estate. To get citizenship through the purchase of property, each country has its own conditions that you have to meet, such as the location of government-approved property, the property's minimum value, and years of living in the country. Some countries require those who invest in residency to reside six months each year for a certain amount of years after investing in a residence, while others require much less minimum residence requirements, such as Portugal.

    Can you get EU citizenship by buying property?

    Yes, investment in real estate to obtain EU citizenship is actually a popular route for many who are seeking a second passport. As an example, you only need to invest in qualifying real estate of a minimum value of €700,000 in Malta to get a Maltese citizenship that allows you to travel freely to 185 countries. Portugal also has a fast track to obtain citizenship through the Portugal golden visa, which also requires you to invest in real estate.

    Which countries give citizenship by buying property?

    Many countries offer citizenship to those who invest in real estate, a few in the EU and others elsewhere. Below is a list of some countries that give you citizenship if you purchase a property of a certain value:

    Malta.
    Montenegro.
    Turkey.
    Dominica.
    Saint Lucia.
    St. Kitts and Nevis.
    Grenada.
    Antigua and Barbuda.

    Can I get permanent residency in the EU by investment?

    Yes, you can get permanent residence by investment in the EU after years of living there. One example is Portugal, which offers a permanent permit for an investment of at least €280,000 in real estate after a period of five years. Another country that offers Europe residency by investment is Spain, if you purchase a property for at least €500,000.

    Which countries give residence permit by buying property?

    There is an abundance of countries that offer a residence permit if you purchase a property in a government-approved area. Below are a few honorable mentions:

    Malta.
    Cyprus.
    Portugal.
    Greece.
    Spain.
    Austria.
    Switzerland.
    Latvia.

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