Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy has halved the minimum investment requirements of its investment immigration program.
The program offers wealthy investors a fast-track route to permanent residence in return for valuable investment.
About Italy’s Investment Immigration Program
Italy offers four options with varying investment requirements to wealthy investors seeking fast-track permanent residence in the EU.
|Asset Class||Minimum Investment|
|Equity investment in an Italian limited company||€500,000 (down from €1 million)|
|Equity investment in an innovative startup in Italy||€250,000 (down from €500,000)|
|Italian government bonds||€2 million|
|Philanthropic Initiatives||€1 million|
Minimum Investment Halved
The minimum investment for the first two options has been halved while limits remain unchanged for investors preferring government bonds or philanthropic initiatives to qualify for permanent residence in Italy.
An equity investment in an Italian company or an innovative startup must be retained for a minimum period of two years. This duration remains unchanged with the minimum investment has been reduced to €500,000 for equity capital infusion in a limited company and €250,000 for investments in Italian startups.
Following the change, the latter investment option becomes as inexpensive as the Greek golden visa. However, a significant distinction remains as startup investments are far riskier than the Greek option of qualifying for fast-track PR through a €250,000 real estate investment.
Revitalizing the Italian Golden Visa Program
Unlike its EU counterparts Portugal, Spain, and Greece, Italy has always struggled to attract investors to its golden visa program due to the high minimum investment requirements.
In comparison, a €2 million real estate investment plus two contributions of €75,000 each can help investors obtain direct EU citizenship through Cyprus’ citizenship-by-investment program.
A 50 percent reduction in minimum investments will definitely make investors pay more attention to the Italian program. However, the absence of a real estate option may continue to discourage investors.
While the €250,000 may appeal to investors prepared to risk investing in startups to qualify for EU permanent residency, demand is unlikely to surge considering other EU countries are likely to ramp up efforts to attract golden visa investors.
Just before the pandemic, Portugal announced a controversial decision to exclude real estate investments in Lisbon and Porto from its golden visa program. Facing a strong backlash from investors, the country has deferred the implementation of the decision to 2021.
With the pandemic pushing the global economy back into a recession and with conditions resembling the aftermath of the 2008 recession, Portugal may never implement the controversial change.
Considering Italy remains a popular tourist destination, the relaunch of the golden visa program afforded an excellent opportunity for attracting real estate investors seeking to invest in vacation homes, tourist resorts, and other tourism-related property assets.
The crash in property prices due to the pandemic is, at least by long-term investors, being viewed as an excellent entry point.
Unless Italy announces further changes to its program, including the addition of real estate as an eligible asset class, this pandemic is likely to end up as a lost opportunity for Italy to aggressively revive its golden visa program.
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