Citizenship by investment
EU second residency programs offer increased freedom of movement and, potentially, an excellent second passport if you then qualify for citizenship.
Greece offers the most cost effective EU Residency programme at present. It was launched in 2013 and like others it’s often called a ‘golden visa’ programme. It’s now among the most popular of such programs in Europe, due to its low minimum cost compared to Portugal or Spain. Its continuing to increase in popularity.
For €250,000 real estate investment in Greece, you and your family are then entitled to EU residency, giving not only access to Greece, but also the ability to move freely within the EU and Schengen area.
This is potentially a very attractive option if you’re looking to the European Union for your second residency. Especially if you want to spend more than half of your time living in Europe. Even if you are from a non-visa country, in the EU generally you can’t stay as a visitor for more than six months. So this would enable you to do that, and to live the EU if you wish.
Greek investor visa: competitive Aspects
Compared to other similar EU programmes, this is not only cheaper but it’s more flexible too. This is because you can invest in as many properties as you want, provided your total real estate investment equals 250,000 euros.
You can even invest in a more expensive property with other people or business partners. This way you each get your EU residency provided each of your shares in the property equals 250,000 euros.
You must visit Greece once, in order to appoint a proxy – such as a lawyer – to act on your behalf. Obviously you have got to be careful about intermediaries.
So once this has been done, everything else can be completed online from your country of residence. You don’t even have to physically live in Greece in order to secure, retain and renew the visa.
You apply as the main applicant. You can bring your wife, along with your dependant children aged 18-24 and your children under 18. You can also bring your parents and your wife’s parents if they are dependant family members too.
You must have private medical insurance for you and your family. You also need a clear criminal record from your country.
As part of the application, you’ll have to submit the contract for the purchase of one or more properties totalling at least €250,000.
Once the application has been submitted, you’re likely to get your residence permit within 2 months. This makes the Greek program one of the quickest as well as one of the most cost effective.
Once you have your residency permit, you are free to live and travel within the EU and Schengen European Area. Your visa renews after 5 years, as long as the real estate investment is retained. Remember, you don’t have to actually live in Greece.
But to be eligible for citizenship, rather than just permanent residence, you do need to spend 7 years physically in Greece, living there, for at least half, of the year, so 183 days.
After 7 years you can apply for a Greek passport and obtain EU citizenship.
2. Greek Citizenship via Real Estate Investment Visa Program
The Program differs from other countries’ n visa programmes in that it allows you to purchase several properties to meet the minimum 250,000 euro investment threshold. So it’s more flexible.
Another advantage is that this minimum investment is much cheaperthan the golden visa programmes in other EU countries. So you can invest less to achieve the same outcome.
Greek investor visas and the Economic Crisis
Because of the recent economic crisis in Greece, property prices are extremely affordable in comparison so other EU countries offering golden visa programmes. Prices have dropped up to 50% since 2008.
They average around 1,300 euros per square meter in large Greek cities. This is almost twice as cheap as Spain or Malta and it’s 1.5 times cheaper than in Portugal. So in choosing Greece, you’re likely to get more for your money.
Another major advantage is that you can also lease the property, or properties, you purchase. You can’t do this in all of the other countries offering similar programmes.
Another interesting point to flag, is that in the future, this programme may develop to include other investment options, as well as the property investment path. You are likely to be able to invest in publicly traded bonds and shares, as well as in Greek real estate, to get residence.
Greek Real Estate Investment Visa Program
It’s worth pointing out that the Greek Real Estate Investment Visa Program doesn’t suit everyone.
Firstly, due to the recent economic crisis, a lot of Greeks are cautious about investing in property. Greece substantially raised their property taxes in the height of the economic crisis.
So you should estimate that, in addition to the 250,000 euros for the property itself, you’re likely to incur costs of about 6% in taxes and government fees when buying and registering the property.
Another challenge is the Greek property market itself. Clearly, the current low prices are attractive, but some would say that this is a riskier investment compared to buying property in other EU countries.
Bear in mind that in order to become a Greek citizen, you have to spend at least 183 days, or half of the year, in Greece, for 7 years.
This means you’ll likely become a tax resident and therefore tax planning should be part of your consideration. Tax has increased substantially since 2009.
Just to get down to basics, and illustrate these points, let’s look at a hypothetical example, of John:
John decides that the low minimum property investment of 250,000 euros means that Greece is the best option for him to secure EU residency and citizenship.
He visits Greece and appoints a Greek lawyer as his proxy. This means he is able to purchase property and apply for his residence permit from outside of Greece, from his home country.
John and his friend Simon (who is also applying under the program) purchase a property together with a total value of 500,000 euros. They invest 250,000 euros each.
Additional requirements in example
John then obtains private medical insurance for him and his family. He is then able to apply for the Greek Real Estate Investment Visa Program.
Two months later, John and his family are granted their residency permits for Greece. This means that they are then able to move freely around the EU and the Schengen European Zone.
His family then spends two thirds of the year in Greece, and one third outside of the EU in his home country.
After 5 years, their residency permits are renewed for an additional 5 years.
And then, after another 2 years, John applies for Greek citizenship. Once this is granted, John and his family are naturalised as Greek citizens – and therefore become EU citizens.
So they are then able to live in any of the European Union member states, such as Germany or Ireland.