Have you ever heard of Golden Visa Programs? Known as the residency through investment programs, they have attracted thousands of people over the years.

Programs in Portugal and Greece are among the most popular. In Portugal, a total of 9,200 investors obtained Golden Visas between 2012 and September 2020. In Greece, a total of 7,903 investors obtained Golden Visas between 2013 and September 2020. Why do these programs attract people from all over the world?

Considering the recent pandemic, investors have started to look for alternative residency options to increase their mobility. They also want to live in a safer place. Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Index states that “Before the Covid-19 crisis, investors looked to second citizenship as a platform from which to dive head-on into a world of greater interaction, travel, and globalization. Mobility rights took, almost inevitably, center-stage. However, by blocking international travel, the Covid-19 pandemic has had the effect of reminding investors and the wider world of the fundamental importance of ‘home.’ In other words, Covid-19 has shifted investor priorities, refocusing them on places that are healthy, pleasant, and welcoming.” This is why Golden Visa programs in certain countries gained more importance.

Portugal is one of the aforementioned “healthy, pleasant, and welcoming” countries. It is the third safest country in the world, according to the 2020 Global Peace Index. It is also known for its hospitality to foreigners. Additionally, the country has handled the pandemic quite well. According to Forbes, “Portugal has been relatively spared from coronavirus with up to 40 times fewer people infected than anywhere else in Europe. Some regions such as the Alentejo have been almost ‘Covid-19 free’ so far with only one death linked to coronavirus.” In addition, the Lagos region has not recorded any coronavirus deaths.

What does the Portugal Golden Visa offer to investors?

Golden Visa Program offers a kind of residence permit in Portugal, without any permanent stay requirement. If you meet one of the government’s investment requirements, you can apply for a Golden Visa. It provides visa-free travel within Europe, and then potential citizenship opportunity at the end of 5 years.

There are various investment options you can consider. The most popular one is the real estate purchase option. 8,654 out of the total of 9,200 investments have been realized for real estate purchases, according to SEF. For this one, you need to buy real estate valued at least at €500,000. You can also buy property in Portugal’s rural area. In that case, a minimum amount of €400,000 is sufficient. If the property is older than 30 years and in an urban rehabilitation area, the price comes down to a minimum of €350,000. If it is also in a rural area, a minimum of €280,000 is sufficient.

You and your family can apply for your Golden Visa after the investment process is complete. When you obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa, you and your dependent family members obtain the right to visa-free travel to Schengen countries. Plus, you get a temporary residence permit. If you stay in the country for at least seven days each year for five years, you can apply for citizenship and permanent residency as well. If you obtain citizenship, you automatically become an EU citizen. So, you can benefit from the rights which other EU citizens benefit from. This means that you can live, work, study, and travel in any EU country. The Portuguese passport is also one of the strongest passports in the world, with visa-free access to 186 countries.

You can also benefit from the tax advantages if you are resident in Portugal. The Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program serves this purpose. You can be exempt from most of your foreign income for a duration of ten years. The requirements are that you should not have been a tax resident in Portugal within the previous five years, and you should have the right to residency in Portugal.

Lowest Real Estate Price for Greece Golden Visa

Greece offers the lowest investment threshold for real estate purchases. A minimum amount of €250,000 is sufficient for this. In addition, it offers no minimum stay requirement. Also, you can renew your residency every five years. It also provides extended family inclusion. In this case, along with your spouse and children under the age of 21, your parents and parents in law can also benefit from the program.

Although there is no data on the investors’ becoming citizens yet, it offers other benefits until you apply for citizenship. Visa-free travel to Schengen countries is one of them. Another one is basically valid for retirees. The Greek Ministry of Finance announced a new law. According to this, a 7% flat tax rate will apply to foreign retirees for a ten-year period. The taxation will apply to pensions, investments, and business activities as well. For this to happen, as a pensioner, you need to shift your tax residency to Greece. So, you need to stay in Greece for at least six months each year.

Also, Greece has been improving its popularity among other foreign investors as well. Ernst & Young (EY) Attractiveness Survey Greece 2020 has published a report. It includes investors’ views about Greece. It indicates that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Greece reached 29th in 2019 in Europe. It raised its rank from 35th in 2018. The reason is that “Greece has also improved in some qualitative indices, like the participation of the critical sector of digital technology in total FDI, which reached 15% for the last three years, not far from the European average of 19% for the same period.” The survey also adds to this that Greece’s steady socio-political environment, the quality of life, and local labor skills play an important role in its attractiveness.