The Greek golden visa program has proved to be a win-win option for the Greek economy as well as wealthy investment immigrants, attracting more than €2.6 billion in foreign investments in just six years from more than 7,800 investors.
About the Greek Golden Visa
Greece offers a fast-track residency permit to candidates who invest at least €250,000 in a Greek property for at least five years. In return, investors enjoy the right to live in Greece along with unrestricted access to the 26-country Schengen Area.
Investors can include their spouse and dependent children under the age of 21 years in the application. Although the visa does not grant the right to work in Greece, investors are permitted to receive rental income on their properties in the country.
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The golden visa program was introduced at the peak of the Greek debt crisis in 2013. Over the years, the program has contributed to the country’s accelerating economic recovery.
From a modest 494 approvals in 2016, the program’s popularity surged as total approvals crossed 2,400 applications in 2019. Had it not been for the pandemic and resulting disruptions, this year could have well seen more than 3,000 approvals.
China Dominates the Greek Golden Visa
China accounts for close to 75 percent of all the golden visas issued by Greece. Next on the list are Turkey and Russia at seven percent and five percent respectively.
The reasons why Chinese investors seek golden visas range from easier access to the EU to escape from dangerously-high levels of air pollution.
Greece has received a large number of applications from China because the country is an excellent investment as well as immigration destination.
The 2008 crisis led to a virtual collapse in asset prices, which meant golden visa applicants could acquire Greek real estate at extremely low valuations. This gave investors the twin benefits of higher capital appreciation combined with rental incomes earned by converting the properties into rental and vacation homes.
Controversies and Concerns
While popular among investors, other EU countries view golden visa programs with a lot more concern. One reason why golden visa programs are popular in the EU is that permanent residence in one member country offers visa-free access across all member countries.
Countries worry that inadequate due diligence by Greece or other countries with golden visa programs may expose them to the risk of entry of inadmissible individuals. Further, there are worries that such programs may be misused for money laundering or other corrupt activities.
Greece has had its share of golden visa controversies. In 2018, news that Chinese investors could bypass their country’s strict capital restrictions by buying property in Greece using credit cards and point of sale machines led to worries about the program’s credibility.
Golden Visa in the Post-Pandemic World
Running a safe and credible golden visa program has been an ongoing process for Greece and other European countries. However, the post-pandemic world may see investors focusing on additional factors, including the country’s track record in tackling COVID-19
Compared to its EU counterparts, Greece has a much better record of keeping the spread of the virus under control. This means investors may shift from the pandemic-hit countries like the UK and Spain to Greece, and this may result in more approvals and inflow of more foreign investments into the Greek economy.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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