The Golden Visa Update

The Golden Visa is a path to residency, citizenship, and temporary visas that might make sense depending on your expat or nomad goals.

February 20, 2023

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

golden visa T​here are all sorts of qualifications a potential nomad or expat could look for in their destination of choice.

F​or some, it’s weather. And who could blame them? If they are coming from an area that has oppressive cold, or a lot of natural disasters, it makes sense they might have reached their limit.

F​or others, it’s the tax benefits. Again, who could blame them? If you’re making $100,000 and 15% of that is going to taxes, that means you spent nearly 55 days working for the government. If you knew you could mitigate that by any measure, you’d probably take that measure!

F​or others still it could be the culture and food. Nothing wrong with that! There is something to be said for the authenticity of food from their countries of origin. The indigenous produce found in Southeast Asia could never be matched in the states. The street food found at bazaars are so unique and rich in flavors that for whatever reason cannot be replicated elsewhere with any consistency.

I​t could be that you’re living in the country and would love to live in a city, but your country’s cities are too expensive. You could be living in a city but want the countryside of another country.

You might even want the benefits that come with having multiple passports, for the more uncertain times when one gets dinged but another is still grants access.

Whatever has you yearning for change, be any combination of the above and more, the main thing is to maximize your benefits. It doesn’t have to be one thing or another.

A​s I say about any sort of residency process, they can be Quick, they can be Easy, they can be Cheap. They will never be all three, but they can be two. Even those qualities are relative, but in my experience, if you have a country whose process is Quick and Easy, it ain’t commensurately Cheap.

T​here are of course the emerging Nomad Visas that are coming into play, but never forget the countries that basically commoditized their residencies and citizenships. Common terms for this are “Golden Passports” and Residency (or Citizenship) By Investment (RBI/CBI).

Three countries that used to have them, but have recently canceled the offering are: Portugal, Ireland, and Cyprus. These are all notable resignations given the benefits they provided. Ireland once had a very generous tax scheme for corporations.

Cyprus was a vault of secrecy in their banking before massive revelations came during the 2010’s when their banks collapsed, they started expropriating funds, and they discovered certain oligarchs were getting preferential treatment. That corruption wasn’t just in the banks, as it turned out. They also discovered in their Golden Passport scheme where higher-ups were using this as a work around for people to avoid back-ground checks, while lining their pockets in the process.

Portugal was the most coveted of all golden passports with its quick and affordable offering. With Portugal’s scheme, you needed 280,000 Euro in real estate investment, spend an average of 7 days per year in country, and you could have citizenship in about five years giving you visa-free access to 188 countries.

T​heir withdrawal of this scheme hits hard since it was one of the fastest and relatively most affordable offerings in Europe. Portuguese policy-makers believe the Golden Passport contributed to their housing crisis.

This basically leaves Malta.

Malta is currently the only country in the EU that still has a citizenship-by-investment scheme based on pre-determined payments or investments without a “genuine link” to the country, such as long-term residence, according to the European Commission.

T​his is a multi-billion dollar industry, and quite lucrative for the governments that offer it. I say governments because this revenue has yet to demonstrate that it actually helps to lift up the existing citizenry in any significant way.

H​ere is a list of countries that offer some iteration of either a Golden Passports or Residency. I’m listing the investment only, there are other fees and requirements that vary by country not listed here. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are countries like South Korea that have very elaborate schemes as well not listed here.

Austria – Golden Visa, €10 million direct investment into a business; or €3 million direct investment into government; must demonstrate that you have at least €1,030.49 in monthly income (more depending on the number of dependents)

Antigua and Barbuda – Citizenship, $100,000 for 1 and up to 4 people in one family; $125,000 for 5 or more.

Dominica – Citizenship, $100,000 donation to government; or $200,000 in real estate

Grenada – Citizenship, $150,000 directly to government; or $200,000 in real estate investment plus $50,000 government fee

S​t. Kitts & Nevis – Citizenship, $125,000 direct investment to government; or $175,000 in real estate

Jordan – Citizenship, $1.5 million

Montenegro – Citizenship, €250,000 in the northern and central region, €450,000 in the coastal region; additional government donation of €200,000 is required

Malta – Permanent Residency, excludes Russian and Belarusian applicants and potentially ending soon; €100,000 investment required with at least €98,000 toward a Government approved fund. You must make a charitable donation of at least €2,000 to a registered non-governmental organization in Malta.

North Macedonia – Citizenship, €200,000

Italy – Golden Visa, Choose one of four ways to invest: €2 million investment in Italian government bonds ; €500,000 investment in an Italian limited company ; €250,000 investment in an Italian innovative startup ; €1 million donations to a philanthropic initiative in Italy

S​pain – Golden Visa, Potentially ending soon.€500,000 in real estate; must renew every 2 years; 5 years to permanent resident and 10 years to citizenship.

Greece – Golden Visa, €250,000

Moldova – Citizenship, €115,000 for a couple, €145,000 for a family

Switzerland – Golden Visa, pay CHF 200,000 as lump sum tax to the Swiss canton where you live. Depending on the canton this amount could go from CHF 400,000 to CHF 600,000 per year. You cannot work under this program.

Jersey – Residency, must prove annual income of a minimum of £725,000 and can therefore contribute at least £145,000 in annual tax; must make a real estate investment, generally in excess of £1.75 million.

Singapore – Permanent Residency, invest at least S$2.5 million ($1.8m) in a new business entity or in the expansion of an existing business operation. (or) at least S$2.5 million ($1.8m) in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore based companies. Must have a minimum of three-year entrepreneurial and business track record.

Australia – Visa to residency, obtained in one of 3 ways: 1. Business Innovation: Applicants must have net assets worth at least AUD 1.25 million and operate a new or existing business in Australia; 2. Investor: Applicants must invest at least AUD 2.5 million in Australian investments that meet certain requirements; or 3. Significant Investor: Applicants must invest at least AUD 5 million in Australian investments that meet certain requirements. Applicants who maintain their investment can then obtain permanent residency in Australia.

New Zealand – Visa, NZ$3 million to NZ$10 million investment; NZ$3 million is very restricted with quotas and high rejection rate; also entrepreneur visa of NZ$100,000 investment subject to approval of business plan

Latvia – Golden Visa, €250,000 investment in qualifying interest-free bonds plus a required government fee of €38,000.

Monaco – Residency visa, minimum of €500,000 in a bank account for residency

U​S – Residency, investment of at least $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (a rural area or high-unemployment area where the unemployment rate is at least 150% of the national average) ; or a direct investment of $1.05 million in a US commercial enterprise. There are a series of additional filing fees to this.

Hong Kong – Residency, applicants must meet the program’s age, education, character, language, and financial prerequisites. There is no minimum investment required. It is quota based, and you must demonstrate you can support yourself without public assistance.

Thailand – Residency, twenty-year residency visa for a one-time fee of 2,000,000 THB, approximately $65,000 plus an annual fee of approximately $650; a ten-year residency visa designed for family application with one-time fee is 1,000,000 THB, approximately $32,500 for the main applicant and $25,000 for each dependent, no annual fee; five-year residency visa allowing expats or business people to enter Thailand regularly and easily during the period with one-time payment of 600,000 THB, approximately $19,500 and no annual fee.

Panama – Permanent Resident, least expensive is the “Panama Reforestation Visa Program,” where foreign investors can contribute $40,000 into a reforestation initiative approved by the Ministry of Environment. Alternatively, apply through the “Qualified Investor Program” requiring real estate investment of $300,000, stock exchange investment of $500,000, or fixed-term bank deposit of $750,000.

Mauritius – 10 year residency, invest $375,000 in one of four real estate options including luxury residential property and smart city projects; or, applicants can invest $35,000 to $54,000 in start-ups, technology, and other approved business activities.

Malaysia – Golden Visa, Applicants are required to have a minimum USD$125,000 in assets and a monthly income of at least USD$2,500. Each applicant must deposit a minimum balance of RM150,000 as a bank deposit if aged 50 or above, or RM300,000 if aged below 50 years.

Luxembourg – Residency, Invest at least €500,000 in an existing company registered in Luxembourg or invest at least €500,000 in a new business registered in Luxembourg and create at least five jobs within 3 years; or Invest at least €3 million in a “management and investment structure, either existing or still to be created,” registered in Luxembourg; or deposit at least €20 million worth of funds into a financial institution established in Luxembourg, and keep the deposit for at least five years.

Wherever you go, if you are looking for residency for any reason, keep in mind the Golden Visas as a possible route to your goal.

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