Amongst all the controversy over immigration in many European countries, most would acknowledge that there are times when immigrants can be a boost to rather than a drain on the economy.
Spain recognises that for some of those wishing to obtain Spanish residency, there can be significant benefits for the indigenous population too. Making Spanish residency as difficult as possible will only deter not only those who are perhaps of less benefit to the economy but those who bring a bounty with them.
Hence came the ‘Spanish Golden Visa’ – a concession to those wishing to settle in Spain who are non-EU nationals but are considered to potentially bring benefits to their chosen country.
What is the Spanish Golden Visa?
The Spanish Golden Visa or Investment Residency Visa was introduced through a clause in the Law of Entrepreneurs and Internationalisation, approved in 2012. It gave non-EU nationals the right to reside in Spain for at least one year.
What makes this visa out of the grasp of most is that to obtain it you must invest a minimum of 500,000 euros in property. The property need not be a home but can be a commercial building or any type of real estate.
Whatever form the property takes, it does have to be accredited and this can be done by obtaining a certificate of ownership from the property registry office. This certificate contains an electronic validation code so that the purchase can be checked online.
It’s not the only means of collecting your golden visa. Other methods include:
- investing €1 million or more in shares of publicly traded Spanish companies
- depositing at least €1 million in a Spanish bank account
- making a major business investment that leads to new jobs
- having significant socioeconomic or technological impact.
What is the Investor Residency Permit?
Having spent a year in Spain, if the applicant wants to stay longer he or she must apply for an ‘Investor Residency Permit’. This is valid for two years and can then be extended for a further two years.
In order to qualify you must fulfil certain criteria:
- Not be residing in Spain illegally
- Be 18 years old or over
- Have no criminal record in Spain or the country of residence for the previous 5 years
- Have public or private healthcare insurance cover with a company that works in Spain
- Be able to support the family financially whilst living in Spain
- Hold a valid Investor Residency Visa
- Show proof of ownership of the property for a minimum amount of time
- Ensure that all tax and social security obligations are fulfilled
So, are non-EU nationals rushing to take up the opportunity to bring their money to Spain?
Not such an attraction
Whatever the expectations were around the golden visa and permit, they don’t appear to be living up to them. El País recently reported that the opportunity has only tempted 81 investors in the first seven months.
Of these 81 successful applicants, 72 involved property purchases rather than other forms of investment. Only three were linked to the setting up of a business, and only six connected to capital investments. The nationalities most frequently joining the scheme were Chinese and Russian millionaires; followed by people from the Ukraine, Lebanon, Ecuador, Qatar, Egypt and Iran.
For those supporting the scheme, it is still too early to say how successful it has been in the long run. For those who are sceptics, it would appear to be a rather tarnished visa after all.