VisaGuide » Golden Visa
Information about Golden Visas, residency and citizenship by investment programs and a complete list of countries

Those who can apply for a Golden Visa can easily acquire a second passport, or at least residency in another country, for themselves and their family members.

In recent years, these types of visas have risen in popularity, especially those offered by European Union countries, where a passport or residence permit comes with a host of other benefits, such as freedom of movement in Schengen and access to the EU free market.

But what is a Golden Visa, and who can apply for one?

What Is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa refers to the immigration program which allows wealthy individuals to get a residence permit or even citizenship in another country simply by purchasing a house there or making a relatively large investment or donation.

Different countries have different investment options, which range from $250,000 to millions.

If you make the required investment and apply for a Golden Visa, you and your family members will become legal residents of that country. You can live there, go to school, and get access to healthcare.

Considering the amount of investment involved, most potential investors hire experts to guide them through the process. Companies like La Vida have years of experience in residency-by-investment schemes. They will offer a free consultation to determine your eligibility for a Golden Visa. If hired, they can set up a trip so you can see your investment options personally, and even provide you with a lawyer to help you with the investment and visa process.

Do Golden Visas Lead to Citizenship?

Although a Golden Visa automatically comes with a residence permit, there is usually a longer path to getting a passport. Yes, a Golden Visa can eventually lead to citizenship, but you will be required to live in that country for a few years beforehand.

For example, if you apply for a Spanish Golden Visa, you will receive a residence permit even if you do not intend to live in Spain at all. But you can only apply for citizenship after ten years of continuous residence and “ties” to Spain, such as language proficiency.

Golden Visa Requirements

Residency by investment is a way many countries used to lure foreign investments usually in property or by creating a business that employs a set minimum number of locals.

Through residency-by-investment schemes, foreigners are enabled to obtain permanent residency in the country in which they are investing, bring their spouse and children to live with them, and study and work there.

Golden Visa eligibility requirements are:

  • You must personally own the money you wish to invest.
  • Maintain the investment, for at least a minimally-required amount of time.
  • Be able to prove you have acquired the money legally.
  • Have a clear criminal background.
  • You must have enough financial resources to sustain yourself and any family members that are coming with you – even if you do not intend to live there.

Naturally, depending on which Golden Visa you will apply for, there will be additional specific requirements as well.

How to Apply for a Golden Visa?

To apply for a Golden Visa, you must purchase a property (real estate) in a foreign country. This is the most common route and is offered by most Golden Visa countries. The cost of the real estate ranges from $200,000 to over $2 million.

Other investment options include*:

  • Make a capital investment in a company’s shares/stocks
  • Make a capital investment in the country’s public debt or government bonds
  • Create employment opportunities
  • Contribute to a country’s scientific or technological innovation

*Note that these investment options are not available in all countries which offer Golden Visas.

After making your investment, you can apply for a Golden Visa either at the respective Embassy in your country or a relevant government body abroad. In any case, your first point of reference should be the Embassy.

La Vida’s years of experience in Golden Visa schemes allow them to have connections with different banks and lawyers, as well as first-hand knowledge of international investment and immigration laws. So, you will be provided with a lawyer abroad, who can assist you with the investment and handle the visa application on behalf of you and your family. This ensures you’ll have the most efficient and streamlined process possible.

List of Countries that Offer Golden Visas

Here is a list of countries that have a Golden Visa program:

To determine which Golden Visa scheme you are eligible for, you can contact the advisors at La Vida – Golden Visas. They specialize in international real estate investment and can help you choose the most suitable Golden Visa scheme for you and your family, by taking into consideration your finances and what you hope to achieve through your investment. La Vida offers assistance with 18 Golden Visa programs worldwide.

Portugal Golden Visa vs Spain Golden Visa

Anguilla

To qualify for Anguilla’s Golden Visa, you have to make a minimum investment of $150,000 in a government-approved fund. You also have the option to invest in real estate or pay for a tax residency program.

With Anguilla Golden Visa, you can only receive a permanent residence, and to qualify for citizenship, you must live in the country for several years. But, then you can become a British Overseas Citizen (BOC), which entitles you to apply for British citizenship

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo

Antigua and Barbuda

The Antigua and Barbuda Golden Visa is one of the most attractive investor visas allowing you to obtain a passport immediately without a residence requirement. To qualify for the Antigua Golden Scheme, you have to make one of the following investments: 

  • Purchase real estate with the minimum amount of USD 400,000. 
  • A USD 100,000 investment to the National Development Fund (NDF).
  • Business investment of at least USD 1.5 million.
  • Invest at least USD 150,000 in the University of the West Indies (UWI) Fund.

With the Antigua and Barbuda Golden Visa, you can have visa-free or visa on arrival access to around 150 countries in the world, including the UK. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

Austria

Austria has one of the strictest citizenship laws in Europe. As a result, its Golden Visa also has high demands for possible investors. The program is regulated by an annual quota of 300, which means not many people can receive residency by investment in Austria. 

To be eligible for the visa, you have to invest directly in the country; either invest €10 million into a business or €3 million in a government fund. Additionally, your investment must generate jobs for Austrians and contribute to the economy of the country. If you want to apply for citizenship, you have to live for at least ten years in Austria, just like any other naturalized citizen. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Canada

Canada offers several investment programs, but the most popular is the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP). For this program, you must make a bond contribution of at least CAD 1.2 million, and after three years, you can apply for citizenship. However, for most of Canada’s investment programs, you must live in the country for at least 183 days during three years if you want to qualify for citizenship. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Germany

Germany’s Golden Visa program is slightly different compared to other countries. To qualify for a Germany Golden Visa, you’re not obligated to invest a minimum amount of money. However, you are strongly encouraged to invest at least €360,000. First, you need to apply for a self-employment visa and open a business in Germany. After three years, you can receive your permanent residence permit, and then after eight years, you can apply for citizenship via naturalization. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Greece

You can apply for a Golden Visa in Greece if you meet the following investment criteria: 

  • You purchase a real estate property valued at € 250,000+ taxes. 
  • You sign a lease agreement for at least ten years. 
  • You invest at least € 400,000 in a registered company in Greece. 
  • You buy government bonds with a minimum amount of at least € 400,000. 
  • You deposit at least € 400,000 at a bank in Greece.

With the Greek Golden Visa after seven years, you can apply for citizenship. If you qualify for citizenship, you can have access to the EU and the Schengen Area. If you don’t want to apply for citizenship, you can keep your permanent resident status as long as you renew your permit every five years and maintain your investment. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo

Grenada

Grenada offers you second citizenship with a low investment cost of USD 150,000 to a national fund. Additionally, you can purchase real estate and qualify for the visa. You’re not required to fulfill a residency requirement for Grenada’s Golden Visa – you will receive citizenship immediately after your investment is completed. With Grenada’s citizenship by investment program, you can travel visa-free to 140 countries in the world. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

Ireland

The Golden Visa program in Ireland grants you a renewable residence permit if you invest at least €1 million in one of the following options: 

  • Investment fund
  • Enterprise fund
  • Real estate fund
  • Endowments

You cannot receive citizenship with Ireland’s Golden Visa directly. But, you may apply for citizenship through naturalization like other nationals if you meet the qualifying criteria. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Malta

Malta has a residency-by-investment program and citizenship-by-investment program under its Golden Visa scheme. Depending on your financial situation and interest, you can choose one of the following options to apply for the Maltese Golden Visa: 

  • Residency by investment. To qualify for the residency program, you must invest at least €98,000 into a government-approved fund. You are not required to live in Malta to keep your permanent residence program. Even though this is not a citizenship scheme, if you meet the eligibility for naturalization, you may apply for citizenship after five years. 
  • Citizenship by investment. You can apply for the one-year citizenship route with an investment of €750,000 to a government-approved national development fund. But, you also have the option for a three-year program if you invest at least €600,000 in a government-approved national development fund. 

With Malta’s Golden Visa scheme, you can live in the EU and travel visa-free to around 140 countries. Plus, you can keep your previous citizenship and become a dual citizen. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

New Zealand

New Zealand is another popular destination for investments as it offers an excellent quality of life, social security, and several other benefits. The country offers two different pathways for investment: 

  • Investor 1 visa. For the investor 1 visa in New Zealand, you must invest at least NZD 10 million into approved investment options, including government bonds, equity, funds, new residential properties, commercial properties, or philanthropic investments. Under this program, you receive a temporary permit which you can renew, and after three years, apply for permanent residency and citizenship. 
  • Investor 2 visa. The minimum amount required to qualify for investor visa 2 in New Zealand is NZD 3 million. You must hold your investment for at least four years, and if you invest NZD, you can apply for permanent residency and later on for citizenship. 
Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Portugal

Portugal has one of the most popular Golden Visa programs in the world. You can become a resident in Portugal after investing at least €500,000 in real estate- the amount is lowered to €400,000 if the investment is in low-density areas. After five years, you have to apply for either permanent residency or citizenship- most investors apply for citizenship to receive a second passport with access to the EU and Schengen Area. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Singapore

You can qualify for the Singapore Golden Visa if you invest at least SGD 2.5 million in one of the following: 

  • Existing business or establish a new business. 
  • Approved fund in Singapore. 
  • Establish a single-family office in Singapore.

In addition, you must have previous business experience and provide your company’s audited financial accounts. With this program, you can gain permanent resident status, and after two years of being a permanent resident in Singapore, you can apply for citizenship. But, you cannot be a dual citizen in Singapore. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Spain

The residency-by-investment program in Spain allows you to become a permanent resident five years after your investment. Eventually, if you live in the country, you can become a citizen after ten years. To apply for Spain’s Golden Visa, you have to invest €500,000 in real estate, and you can bring your family with you. Remember, you have to renew your permit every two years until you become a permanent resident. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

St. Kitts and Nevis

For St. Kitts and Nevis Golden Visa, you may invest USD 150,000 to a government fund or purchase real estate with the minimum amount of USD 200,000. After your investment is completed, you will receive citizenship immediately without being required to reside in the country. With a St. Kitts passport, you will have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 160 countries across the world. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

St. Lucia

St. Lucia offers a second passport with an investment of only USD 100,000 to a national government fund. However, you also have the option to invest your money in other funds, purchase bonds, or real estate. Your application will be processed as soon as 90 days, and you can become a St. Lucia citizen – there is no residency requirement to qualify for the St. Lucia’s Golden Visa. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

Switzerland

The Golden Visa program in Switzerland differs from other countries where you are not required to purchase real estate, funds, or government bonds. You can qualify for the program if you pay annual taxes between CHF 150,000 and CHF 1 million– the amount required changes from canton to canton.  

However, to receive permanent residence and citizenship, you must have lived at least ten years in the country

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

The Cayman Islands 

The Cayman Islands Golden Visa program is a residency by investment. You can become a permanent resident within a few months after investing USD 2.5 million in real estate. After five years, you can apply for citizenship by naturalization and become a British Overseas Citizen (BOC), and then eventually, you can apply for British citizenship.

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo

The United Kingdom 

The UK offers a Tier-1 Investor visa for those with the required funds to invest in the country. The minimum investment is at least £2,000,000, and it must be held in a regulated financial institution. After a few years, you can apply for British citizenship if you meet the rest of the eligibility criteria.

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

Turkey

The Golden Visa for Turkey provides you with citizenship within 3 to 6 months after you make your investment. To qualify for Turkish citizenship by investment program, you have to invest at least $250,000 in real estate. With this program, you can have visa-free or visa on arrival travel to 125 countries in the world, and your family can apply for citizenship along with you. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

United Arab Emirates

The UAE offer a 10-year residency program and a 5-year residency program within its Dubai Golden Visa plan. To qualify for the 10-year option, you have to invest at least AED 10 million in public investments or be a person with exceptional skills and talents. For the 5-year option, you have to invest the minimum amount of AED 5 million in a property in the UAE. 

Permanent Residency by InvestmentYes
Citizenship by InvestmentNo 

United States of America

Under its Golden Visa scheme, the US offers two different types of visas; the main difference is that only one offers a pathway to citizenship. 

  • EB-5 Investor Visa. The EB-5 permit is an immigrant investor visa that allows you to apply for a Green Card five years after making your investment. To qualify for this visa, you have to submit at least $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area. 
  • EB-2 Investor Visa. To qualify for the EB-2 investor visa, you have to be a citizen of one country with an investor treaty with the US and invest between $100,000 to $200,000 in an existing business or establish a new business. Typically, you can’t apply for a Green Card under this visa, but there are a few exceptions. 
Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

Vanuatu

If you want to apply for Vanuatu’s Golden Visa program, you have to invest a minimum amount of USD 130,000 in a government fund. But, recently, the Vanuatu government has opened up the program to purchase real estate as well. This means that you can qualify for the Golden Visa in Vanuatu if you buy a government-approved property with the cost of USD 200,000. After your investment is approved, then you will be a citizen of Vanuatu.

Permanent Residency by InvestmentNo
Citizenship by InvestmentYes 

Cancelled Golden Visa Programs

Cyprus Golden Visa Program

As of 2020, Cyprus canceled its Golden Visa program. Previously the scheme was one of the most popular, serving as a bridge between Europe and Asia for investors. It allowed investors to gain permanent residency after purchasing a property with at least €300,000 plus VAT.

However, the government closed off the program due to accusations of corruption in which Golden Visas were sold to individuals who had a criminal record. It’s unlikely the scheme will be active again at present. 

Moldova Golden Visa Program

The Moldova Citizenship by Investment scheme was launched in 2018 and provided one of the cheapest European Golden Visas. However, in 2020 the government suspended the program after the majority of the parliament voted against the scheme. Current applications submitted before the suspension will be processed, while no more new applications are accepted.

The program allowed citizenship by investing a minimum contribution to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of €100,000 for a single applicant. But, now it’s most likely the program will not be continued in the future. For this reason, you are encouraged to look into other European countries that offer Golden Visas or even other countries worldwide. 

Montenegro Golden Visa Program

Montenegro has made the final decision to close its Golden Visa program. While the program offered citizenship by investment with a total amount of €350,000, the program will close in December of 2022. This decision lies mainly due to Montenegro’s aspirations to join the EU while the European Commission strongly discourages Golden Visa programs. Additionally, when the program was active, it received a limited number of applications encouraging the end of the program. 

Quickest Way to Citizenship by Golden Visa

One of the countries offering the quickest citizenship route via Golden Visa is Portugal. You become eligible for Portuguese citizenship after five years, regardless of whether you lived in the country or not.

How Long Is a Golden Visa Valid?

The validity of a Golden Visa depends on the country which issues it. You are usually looking at 1-2 years validity, with the possibility to renew indefinitely.

If you live in the country which issued the Visa, you eventually become eligible for permanent residence and citizenship, after 5-10 years.

Can Family Be Included in the Golden Visa Application?

Yes, if you apply for a Golden Visa, your dependent family members can apply with you. This includes the spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents. Everyone included on the Golden Visa application enjoys the same rights as the main applicant, such as residency, freedom of movement, etc.

Do You Have to Live in the Property You Got for Golden Visa?

No, there are usually no residency requirements for Golden Visa applicants. You can continue to renew the visa indefinitely as long as you maintain the investment (i.e. you do not sell the house). Additionally, some countries, such as Greece and Cyprus, allow you to rent out the property while you are away.

Can I Get a Golden Visa If I Buy A House By Mortgage?

No, you cannot apply for a Golden Visa if you purchased a house using financial aid. You must own all the money you invest.

However, you may be allowed to use financing to pay for the amount of money exceeding the required minimum. For example, if you purchase a property worth $500,000, but the requirement for a Golden Visa is $300,000, you can pay the 300k in full and then use financing for the remaining $200,000.

Similarly, if you decide to make a joint investment, all participants have to invest the minimum required amount. You cannot split it between yourselves.

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