EU Residency: Increase Your Mobility Through Golden Visa Programs Golden Visa programs are gaining popularity day by day. The reason behind this is that Golden Visas are a win-win situation. You invest in the country and obtain residency then possibly citizenship of the country. There are also side benefits to these programs such as tax exemptions, second passport, visa-free travel in the Schengen countries, and family inclusion to the program. Moreover, some of the most popular Golden Visa Programs are mainly in Portugal, Greece, and Spain. Portugal's Golden Visa program, being in effect since 2012, has granted a total of 9,200 residence permits to its investors until September 2020. Furthermore, a total of 15,792 family members of these investors have benefited from this program, according to statistics of SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service). Greece, on the other hand, has granted Golden Visas to 7,903 investors and 23,618 of their family members in total, according to Enterprise Greece (an official agency of the Greek State dealing with promoting investment and international businesses in Greece). This data is from the years between 2013 and September 2020. The nationality of the applicants interested in these programs varies, including the US and UK. People in the US search for an alternative to gain residency or citizenship in other countries, mainly because of the current political ambiguity in the US. Along with the US, the UK is also very interested in Portugal, especially its capital, Lisbon. UK has ongoing FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) projects in Portugal which are increasing in number each year. According to Ernst & Young’s Attractiveness Survey, the UK “more than doubled the number of projects” in Portugal in 2019. The number rose from 6 to 15 only in the last year. According to the same survey, the UK ranks the second top investor in Lisbon Area in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects. This is no surprise considering the UK investor population in Portugal. According to SEF, around 35,000 UK residents live in Portugal. They mostly gather in Lisbon, Algarve, and Porto areas. So, what is interesting about this “Golden Visa”? Well, Golden Visa programs are basically residency by investment programs. They serve investors residency in the related country as well as visa-free travel to Schengen countries. They are also “Plan B” investments if the investors wish to move to that country in the future. In some cases, specifically in Portugal, it leads to citizenship and provides access to all the privileges of EU citizenship. Durations to get Golden Visa depends on the bureaucracy in the related country. The common immediate rights you gain along with your Golden Visa are the temporary residence permit, visa-free travel to Schengen countries, and favourable tax treatments and/or tax exemptions on some income. After you fulfil the stay requirements and other procedures, there is a potential that you gain citizenship of the country, and thereby a second passport. Here is a closer look at these programs in various countries: Portugal Golden Visa The Portugal’s Golden Visa is a well-known and quite popular Golden Visa program. More and more people choose Portugal because of its safety, economic stability, and its low cost of living. Not to mention its favourable climate which indeed appeals to everyone. It ranks the third most peaceful country in the world, according to EY(Ernst & Young) Attractiveness Survey in 2019. In addition to this, it is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe. There are different types of investment options in Portugal. The most preferred one is, however, the real estate investment. In Portugal, 8,654 out of the total 9,200 investments are from real estate purchases. You can see the other options below: \t● Purchase of a real estate property with a minimum value of €500,000 ○ If the property is in a rural area, the minimum investment amount is €400,000 ● Purchase of a real estate property with a minimum value of €350,000 which is older than 30 years and which needs renovation. ○ If this type of property is in a rural area, the minimum investment amount would be €280,000 ● €1,000,000 capital transfer to the country ● Owning a company which creates a minimum of ten jobs for the citizens of Portugal ● Investing €350,000 in a Portuguese risk fund ● Investing a minimum amount of €250.000 in the arts or in the reconstruction or refurbishment of national heritage projects. ● Minimum capital transfer of €350,000 for investing in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technologic system ● Capital transfer amount of at least €350,000 “for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies, capital injected under the Portuguese legislation, whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investments are realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory” ● Capital transfer amount of at least €350,000 “for the constitution of a commercial society with head office in the national territory, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a commercial society with head office in national territory, already existing, with the creation or keeping of working jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years.” What does Portugal Golden Visa Offer? It is important to note that in order to qualify for a Golden Visa you must be a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country, at least 18 years old, and have a clean criminal record. Some direct and indirect benefits of this program are: Family Inclusion The Golden Visa allows you to include your dependent family members in the program. Dependent family members include the investor’s spouse and children under the age of 18. Furthermore, the children can apply under the family reunion independently of their age as long as: (i) they are single, (ii) are financially dependent on their parents; and (iii) are studying. High Mobility As a Golden Visa holder, you will immediately get the right to visa-free travel in Schengen countries. Moreover, the Golden Visa grants you permanent residency after you fulfil the stay requirement. You have to stay in Portugal for only seven days a year. After five years of successful residency, you can receive your permanent residency. Furthermore, you may gain the right to apply for citizenship. Finally, when you gain citizenship, you will obtain the right to live, work, study, and travel in any EU country. The Portuguese passport is among the strongest in the world, with visa-free access to 186 countries. This is a very strong incentive considering the current situation of immobility in the world. Favourable Tax Regimes Portugal has signed Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) with more than 60 countries in the world. The agreement basically prevents you from paying tax on the same income in two countries. In addition to this, the Non-Habitual Residency tax regime (NHR) is available in Portugal. Moreover, only EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can benefit from NHR treatment. However, if you move your tax residency to Portugal, you can also enjoy the NHR regime in Portugal. It means you have to stay in Portugal for at least 183 days each year. Most of your foreign source income is exempt from taxation for ten consecutive years, under NHR. If the foreign income is from a country Portugal has DTA with, it will not be subject to taxation. Even if your income is from a Portuguese source, you are subject to lower taxations as an expat. If your job is among the “high-added-value” group, you will gain generous tax exemptions Greece Golden Visa Greece also has a low cost of living and a favourable climate, and it offers a good quality of life. Many investors choose this program because it has the lowest real estate investment threshold in Europe. The minimum investment amount is €250,000. Different types of investments are also available in Greece such as: \tPurchase of property with a minimum investment amount of € 250,000 ● Ten years of a lease agreement signed for hotel accommodations or furnished tourist residences in integrated tourist resorts ● €400,000 investment for Greek government bonds, kept for three years ● €400,000 investment for bonds or shares of real estate investment companies ● Capital investment of €400,000 in bonds and shares of a Greek company in the Greek Stock Market ● €400,000 investment for shares and bonds of venture fund and private equity which have headquarters in Greece ● €400,000 investment in bank deposits ● €800,000 investment in corporate or government bonds ● €400,000 investment in stakes of Greek mutual fund investing only in the Greek estate market ● Acquisition of stakes with a minimum worth of €400,000 of an alternative investment fund that invests in the Greek real estate market. Benefits of Greece Golden Visa To benefit from the Golden Visa Greece, you must be a non-EU citizen, at least 18 years old, of a good character, and you must have a clean criminal record and medical insurance for yourself and your family. The Greece Golden Visa gives you the following benefits: Family Inclusion You can include your family members (including your spouse, children under 21, your parents, and parents in law) High Mobility You immediately obtain the right to travel visa-free within the Schengen area. Additionally, you get an unlimited residency permit in Greece. You only need to renew your residency permit every five years. Moreover, Greece has no minimum stay requirement unless you want to get Greek citizenship. Favourable tax regimes Greece has also signed Double Taxation Treaty (DTA) with around 60 countries. Income gained from outside of Greece is not subject to taxation. Another recent regulation is on the way. The Ministry of Finance announced a new law that offers a 7% flat tax rate for foreign retirees for a ten-year period. So, the Greece Golden Visa is a call for pensioners as well. Overall, these programs can be a relief for investors who worry about economic or political instability. They will certainly ease the process of mobility in these turbulent times.