Golden Visas 2024: updated rules
23 January, 2024
Citizenship by Investment Programs, popularly known as “golden visas”, allows a foreigner to obtain a long-term or permanent residence permit in a country in exchange for a certain amount of investment in the state’s economy. This offer is quite interesting for investors who want to diversify their capital, gain access to new markets, improve their quality of life or obtain a second citizenship.
Last year, 2023, was one of investment migration’s most dynamic years, with many governments changing rules and operational procedures for issuing golden visas. Some even abandoned their golden visas, arguing that it is a threat to security in their respective countries.
In 2024, the landscape for investment migration looks diverse and offers various options across the globe, each with its unique benefits and requirements. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from most golden visa programs:
Australia – ‘Golden Visa’ Halted Under Broad Migration Overhaul
Australia has indeed halted its golden visa scheme, the Significant Investor Visa, with all applications paused.
This decision to end the golden visa was made to recalibrate the migration system and shift focus towards attracting skilled migrants to fill occupational gaps and contribute to the country’s development.
The Significant Investor program allowed affluent individuals to obtain permanent residency through a significant investment, typically a minimum of A$5 million, into the Australian economy. However, the golden visa program has faced criticism for not delivering the expected economic benefits, and concerns have been raised that investments were often channelled into real estate or financial assets rather than productive areas of the economy.
The Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil highlighted that the visa was not meeting the needs of the country’s economy and migration system.
“It’s actually costing us on average for every person because these are people who are generally coming in at quite a late stage of their life, often at the end of their business career and coming to Australia, basically to settle down and retire.”
Many golden visa programs similar to Australia’s have faced criticism worldwide amid allegations that they have been abused by wealthy individuals and failed to benefit the countries themselves.
Spain – Anticipated changes in 2024
Spain is one of the top golden visa countries in Europe. Introduced on September 27, 2013, the Spanish golden visa has gained popularity in recent years.
Over the past four years, more than 10,000 people have obtained the golden visa through the direct purchase of property in Spain, which requires an investment of EUR 500,000 in one or several properties. Additionally, investments can be made in other assets, such as shares of Spanish companies or government bonds, although the investment amounts are higher. According to experts, this golden visa program is expected to gain even more momentum in the year ahead, especially considering that Portugal has changed the conditions for its equivalent investment scheme.
In addition to the investment, the applicant must spend at least 183 days residing in Spain in order to qualify for Spanish citizenship through the Golden Visa within a period of 2 to 10 years.
The presumed changes that could affect the Spain golden visa program include;
- Increasing the minimum investment amount to EUR 1 million
- Requiring investors to be legal residents in Spain for at least six months per year (similar to the current requirement of 183 days per year) and requiring investors to have clean criminal records.
The exact dates for these changes have not been announced, but it is estimated that these modifications could come into effect later this year. We will keep you updated on these reforms.
Hungary – New golden visa program launched January 2024
Hungary’s new golden visa scheme, termed the “Guest Investor Residence Permit”, is designed for non-EU and non-EEA nationals looking to gain permanent residency in Hungary, along with visa-free access to other European countries in the Schengen area. The program offers several business investment options, such as purchasing real estate and residential properties and donating towards educational, scientific, artistic, or creative activities in the country.
It was first introduced in legislation towards the end of 2023 and brought into effect on 1 January 2024. While the law has taken effect, the Hungarian golden visa application will only begin on 1 July 2024.
To qualify, golden visa applicants must:
- Invest EUR 250,000 in investment certificates issued by a real estate fund registered with the National Bank;
- Invest EUR 500,000 directly in Hungarian residential real estate (free of encumbrances or claims);
- Donate EUR 1 million to an institution of higher learning to support educational, scientific, artistic, or creative activities “maintained by a public interest trust foundation performing a public task.
The process of obtaining a Hungarian Golden Visa is relatively straightforward. First, you will submit an application for the 2-year Guest Investor Visa, which enables you to spend 90 out of 180 days in Hungary.
Investors must then complete their chosen investment within the first 93 calendar days of entering the country to obtain the golden visa card and 10-year residence permit.
The application process is expected to take up to two months. Prospective applicants will also need to consider legal, application and processing fees, which vary depending on the type of investment and number of dependents.
NB: Previously, Hungary offered a straightforward permanent residence program requiring investment funds of EUR 300,000. However, this program was discontinued.
The Hungarian government is yet to issue a decree which will contain more details about the investments. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, so check back for more updates.
Portugal – New Investment Routes for 2024
The Portuguese Golden Visa program is one of the most popular investment programs globally. It launched in October 2012, and more than 12,000 applicants have applied for their golden visas since then.
The primary goal of the golden visa is to encourage foreign investments, which benefit the Portuguese economy. The Portuguese golden visa program remains the only route to a European Union passport without a minimum 6-month stay at its investment level. It is also the only option that requires no active management from the investor nor a donation to the government.
However, the program went through significant changes in October 2023, although these have no retroactive effect on existing applications. The Portuguese government has excluded real estate investments from available investment options. Currently, Portugal golden visa applicants can opt for the following:
- To qualify for funds (the amount must exceed EUR 500,000).
- Open a business with at least 10 jobs.
- To invest EUR 500,000 or more in research activities carried out by public or private research institutions.
- To support initiatives that deal with the restoration or preservation of national cultural heritage (investment amount from EUR 250,000).
- Create a company with an authorised capital of EUR 500,000 or more and at least five jobs.
The Portuguese government also recently announced that the duration of the Golden Visa application period (6-18 months) will now count towards the 5-year qualifying period for Portuguese citizenship. This will significantly reduce the time it takes to obtain both your passport and the associated rights to reside in the European Union.
Turkey – Increase in minimum investment amount
Turkey’s citizenship by investment program has been a popular choice among global investors due to its relatively accessible requirements and its close proximity to Europe and the Middle East.
The latest change to the requirements to obtain citizenship by means of investment requires golden visa applicants to pay a minimum of $600,000 on real estate instead of $400,000 to qualify for a golden visa in Turkey.
With this minimum investment hike, the government appears to be striking a balance between welcoming foreign investors and ensuring that the economic benefits are commensurate with the accompanying privileges of obtaining citizenship.
The $200,000 increase would mark the third price change in the history of the investment scheme.
An exact date has not yet been published. We will return with more information as it becomes available.
Greece – Extension of Golden Visa Transitional Period
The Greece Golden Visa program was launched in 2014. Applicants can get a 5-year residency visa with a minimum investment amount of at least €250,000. The most popular investment option is to purchase real estate (residential or commercial).
On December 11th, 2023, a legislative proposal was presented to the Greek Parliament proposing extensions to the golden visa program for non-EU nationals. Key points of the proposal include:
- Extension of Deadline for Investment Completion: Non-EU nationals who have not yet finalised their investments in designated areas (Greater Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini) can complete their investment by April 30th, 2024. This is applicable to those who meet the existing minimum investment requirement of EUR 250,000.
- Conditions for Eligibility: To be eligible for this extension, applicants must have paid an advance of 10% of the property’s purchase price by July 31st, 2023. If the initial property purchase is not completed, the applicant can invest in an alternative investment property, provided the total investment is at least EUR 250,000.
- Extension for Term Deposit Route: The bill also proposes extending the deadline to apply under the current EUR 400,000 threshold for the Term Deposit route until March 31st, 2024, before an anticipated increase to EUR 500,000.
This proposal is awaiting an official vote in the Greek Parliament, and further details are expected to be released soon. Stay tuned.
Canada – Quebec’s New Investor Immigration Program
Established in 1985, the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) is the only passive investor immigration program offered in Canada. It was suspended in 2019 and was supposed to open in April 2023. However, the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program has resumed starting 01 January 2024.
Individuals are not required to establish or actively manage a business in the province.
Under the refurbished golden visa program, applicants are required to;
- Demonstrate minimum proficiency in spoken French, which corresponds to level 7 on the Échelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français des personnes immigrantes adultes
- Have a diploma obtained before the date of submission of the application and corresponding at least, in Quebec, to a secondary school diploma
- Have been issued a work permit following the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI’s) notice of intent to issue a selection certificate (PCSQ)
- Within 2 years of the date of this work permit issuance, together with any spouses or common-law partners included in the application, be legal residents in Quebec for a period of at least 6 months
- Make a 5-year term risk-free investment, at 0% interest of C$1 million with IQ Immigrants Investisseurs Inc. and a non-refundable financial contribution of C$ 200,000 to this company through a financial intermediary, within 120 days of the acceptance decision
- Have a net worth of at least C$2 million (including spouses or common-law partners’ assets);
- Have acquired at least 2 years of management experience in the 5 years preceding the application’s submission.
Successful applicants are issued a selection certificate from Quebec for Canadian immigration, which allows them to obtain Canadian permanent residency following health and criminality examinations by Federal immigration authorities.
USA – Fiscal year 2024 expected to yield a higher crop of EB-5 visas
The EB5 (Employment-Based Category #5) Investor Visa (sometimes known as the investor Green Card) attracts foreign investment, creates job opportunities, and enables business activities, all with the aim of promoting economic growth in the United States.
Designed for immigrant investors, The EB5 Visa program, like most golden visas, leads to US permanent residency through foreign investments made within the United States. It has become one of the most popular investment visa programs in the world, granting approximately 10,000 EB5 Visas per fiscal year to foreign investors.
The fiscal year 2024 is expected to be favourable for EB-5 investors, with projections indicating a substantial increase in the availability of EB-5 visas. Estimates suggest over 20,000 EB-5 visas could be available. Experts are also optimistic regarding the visa’s application approvals and processing times.
The ability to file for adjustment of status alongside I-526 petitions is highlighted as a considerable benefit for new EB-5 applicants. It is expected to be available for all countries in the first half of the 2024 calendar year.
St Kitts & Nevis – Latest Amendments to Citizenship Program
Last year, St. Kitts and Nevis implemented significant amendments to their Citizenship by Investment program. The changes to the golden visa aim to attract high-quality applicants and maintain the integrity and status of the nation’s citizenship. Key modifications include:
- Increase in Minimum Investment Amounts:
- The Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) is replaced by the Sustainable Island State Contribution (SISC).
- New minimum contributions are set at:
- USD $250,000 for a single applicant.
- USD $300,000 for an applicant with a spouse.
- USD $350,000 for a family of four.
- Real Estate Investment Options:
- The minimum investment in the Developer’s Real Estate Option is raised to USD $400,000.
- A seven-year holding period is required for the resale of the property to another CBI investor.
- Investment in Approved Private Homes and Public Benefit Projects:
- The minimum investment for an Approved Private Home (APH) is USD $400,000 for a condominium and USD $800,000 for a single-family dwelling.
- Approved Public Benefit projects now require a minimum contribution of USD $250,000.
- These properties must be held for at least seven years and can’t be sold to another CBI applicant without significant further investment.
- Mandatory Interviews:
- All main applicants and dependents aged 16 and over must undergo mandatory interviews.
- Interview costs are included in the increased due diligence fees.
- Collection of Certificate of Registration:
- Applicants must collect their Certificate of Registration in person at St. Kitts and Nevis or from an approved Embassy or Consulate.
It’s anticipated that these changes may influence similar programs in other Caribbean nations in aspects such as due diligence and banking fees.
Saudi Arabia – Five new residency initiatives to attract talent and boost economy
Saudi Arabia has introduced new residency visa initiatives to attract investment and highly qualified individuals.
The five new premium programs specifically target professionals in healthcare, sports, real estate, and other industries.
Residency holders under these programs not only gain the right to live and work in Saudi Arabia but also will be eligible for privileges such as property ownership, tax benefits and the ability to secure work permits for themselves and their family members.
UAE – New Features of the UAE Golden Visa in 2024
The United Arab Emirates citizenship by investment program is a comprehensive residency visa program that caters to a diverse group of foreign nationals, allowing them to live, work, or study in the UAE while enjoying various benefits. Since its inception in mid-2020, the program has gained significant traction, with Dubai alone granting 44,000 visas in a single year.
- The UAE golden visa offers 5 or 10-year visas.
- Eligible applicants include global professionals with entrepreneurial or business experience. Requirements include demonstrating entrepreneurial expertise, holding a significant position in a startup or its leadership, a willingness to relocate and establish a business in the UAE, and having a viable business plan for implementation in the UAE.
- Eligibility for a 10-year golden visa in the UAE includes two main categories: investors and individuals with specialized talents.
- Investors must invest at least AED 10 million in the UAE through various forms, such as deposits, company establishment, or partnerships. This investment must not be loaned and should be retained for a minimum of three years, with the investor showing financial solvency of AED 10 million. The visa can extend to include a business partner (who also invests AED 10 million), the investor’s spouse, dependent children, one executive director, and one advisor. Foreign investors can obtain a six-month multiple-entry permit.
- Individuals with Specialised Talents, such as doctors, scientists, artists, and investors, need to have significant achievements or accreditations in their fields. This includes certification from relevant UAE authorities, holding prestigious awards, contributing to significant research, or possessing a PhD from a top university. Their visa benefits extend to their spouses and dependent children.
- Both categories require compliance with specific conditions and contribute significantly to the UAE’s economy or cultural development.
- To qualify for the UAE’s five-year golden visa, there are three categories of eligibility:
- Investors in Property: Must invest in a property worth at least AED 5 million, without loans, and retain it for three years.
- Entrepreneurs: Those with a project valued at AED 500,000 or with approval from a business incubator in the UAE.
- Outstanding Students: Either secondary school students with a minimum 95% grade or university students with a distinction or a GPA of at least 3.75.
- In addition to the professional and personal benefits, the golden visa provides practical advantages such as a self-sponsored residence permit, exemption from needing an employment sponsor, the ability to remain outside the UAE for extended periods without losing residency status, and the capability to sponsor family members and domestic servants.
For those seeking more information or to apply for the golden visa, please email us at email@example.com
Key Considerations for Choosing a Citizenship by Investment Program
In the pursuit of dual citizenship through investment, thoughtful deliberation is paramount to align your goals with the offerings of various programs. Here are refined and strategically framed questions to guide your decision-making process:
- Investment Budget: What is the maximum amount you are prepared to invest in obtaining citizenship, keeping in mind your financial stability and investment portfolio diversity?
- Financing the Investment: Are you considering financing options for your investment, or do you prefer to allocate a lump sum upfront?
- Investment Terms Preference: What are the specific terms and conditions of investment that align with your financial planning—such as duration, type of investment, and potential returns?
- Citizenship Timeline: When do you expect or require the new citizenship to be granted? Is there an urgency in your timeline that necessitates expedited processing?
- Residency Intentions: Do you intend to establish a residence in the new country? If not, what is the minimum duration of stay that you are willing to commit to under the program’s requirements?
- International Relations and Travel Freedom: How critical are the country’s international alliances, economic treaties, and the extent of visa-free travel that the new citizenship would provide?
- Fiscal Benefits: Is your primary incentive favourable to tax benefits and to enhance your asset protection strategy?
- Geographic Significance: How does the country’s geographic location factor into your personal, professional, or business plans?
- Quality of Life and Cultural Integration: How do you prioritise language, education quality, healthcare standards, business environment, tax structure, lifestyle, and cultural offerings for yourself and your family members?
The Application Process
The citizenship by investment application process typically involves choosing a program, submitting an application, undergoing background checks, making the investment upon approval, and finally receiving residency or citizenship. The specifics vary by country, with some requiring physical presence and others not.
This immigration update serves as an informative resource and should not replace legal or specific scenario advice. Please be aware that immigration policies can change abruptly. We urge you to consult with Centuro Global or other official sources in the field of citizenship by investment for specific details and the latest updates.
For a consultation about the citizenship by investment program and to learn more about your options, contact us today.
Article written by Kevin Nkrumah