Citizenship for Sale
European Golden Visas have been crafted to encourage further investment into the struggling economies of several EU countries, offering a door through which non-EU high net worth individuals can walk through with relative ease, to gain European citizenship and permanent residency.
Particularly essential in countries such as Spain and Cyprus which are coping with austerity and looking at an economically challenging 2014, the visa schemes have already attracted much attention, with Cyprus Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos recently stating that most of the €500 million foreign investment on the island in the past eight months came from investors meeting the targets for the programme.
With the competition fierce to create the most coveted Golden Visa scheme, many European countries are evaluating and reevaluating their requirements in the hopes of attaining higher foreign investors to their shores.
The latest to join the race will be Malta, with the implementation of new legislation at the end of this month to grant an immediate European passport to investors for the sum of just €650,000, to be donated to their National Development Fund.
Though the authorities will evaluate applications from foreign investors in detail, applicants are not required to visit the country itself; a major advantage for many interested investors, and a major disadvantage for competing jurisdictions, as minimum stay requirements are often off-putting for prospective investors whose homes and business headquarters are far away.
The popular ‘Golden Visa’ incentives are cause for concern for many Europeans, who believe that easy access to citizenship will allow a doorway for foreign business-people and criminals alike. The anxiety is heightened by the knowledge that the European Commission is unable to prevent these residence permits.
Despite this, it is still seen as imperative that investors from Russia, China and Arab countries take advantage of the visa opportunities and bring their businesses, and their money, to the currently weak economies of the European countries on offer.
Here are just five of these Golden Visa schemes.