The Golden Visa in Spain provides non-EU citizens with an opportunity to obtain residency through investment.
Spain introduced the Golden Visa scheme in 2012 in order to encourage entrepreneurship, investment, and internationalism. However, the principal aim of the Golden Visa initiative is to stimulate the Spanish economy. By attracting entrepreneurs and investors to the country, the Spanish government hopes to create jobs, attract new talent, and promote innovation. This visa program makes it easier for wealthy individuals to gain residency, especially if they purchase a property. In this article, we run through some of the details of the Golden Visa in Spain and the impact it’s had so far.
What is the Golden Visa?
The Spanish government introduced the Golden Visa, or Investment Residency Visa, as part of the Law of Entrepreneurs and Internationalisation in 2012. This new legislation gave non-EU nationals the right to reside in Spain. There are various means through which foreign nationals can obtain their Golden Visa, including:
- Invest at least €500,000 mortgage-free in Spanish property.
- Invest €2 million in Spanish public debts.
- Buy €1 million worth of shares in a Spanish company.
- Deposit €1 million in a Spanish bank account.
- Start a business project in Spain that creates jobs, contributes to technological or scientific innovation or has a socio-economic impact on the locality.
As is clear from these large sums of money, this visa program is out of reach for many people. However, property investment is relatively flexible. For instance, it need not be a home; for instance, it could also be a commercial building or any other type of real estate. The only condition is that it has to be an accredited property with a legitimate certificate of ownership from the property registry. This document contains an electronic code that allows the authorities to check the authenticity of the purchase online.
Investor Residency Permits: The next step
After spending one year in Spain, Golden Visa holders can apply for an Investor Residency Permit if they wish to stay longer. This permit is valid for two years, with the possibility of a further two-year extension. To qualify, existing Golden Visa holders must:
- Be 18 years old or over.
- Have no criminal record in Spain or their country of residence for the previous five years.
- Not be residing in Spain illegally.
- Have healthcare insurance cover with a company that operates in Spain.
- Be able to support their family financially whilst living in Spain.
- Show proof of ownership of the property for the minimum amount of time.
- Fulfill all tax and social security obligations.
The impact of the Golden Visa in Spain
According to a recent article in El País, Spain has enjoyed the highest uptake of any European country offering a similar scheme. From January to October 2018, the government granted 5,876 visas, 563 of which were for investing in property. This number almost matches the total for the previous year, which shows that the scheme is growing every year. Currently, the largest group of Golden Visa holders are Chinese, followed by Russians and Americans.
However, the program has its difficulties. For example, Transparency International has criticized the practice, suggesting that some applicants have been linked to corruption cases abroad. However, Spanish lawyers have said that anti-money laundering laws make it very difficult to bring problematic investments into the country. Either way, many multi-millionaires globally bringing investment to Spain through this attractive scheme.