Seeking to increase the attractiveness of property investments in Greece, the Greek government is set to introduce a bill seeking to convert the Greece investment for residency programme with a full-fledged investment citizenship programme.
Currently, non-EU immigrant investors investing a minimum sum of €250,000 in Greece can obtain residency permits with tenure of five years. These permits are renewable subject to continued fulfillment of the mandatory investment requirements of the scheme.
The proposed law, set to be introduced as a bill in the Greek parliament, will allow investor immigrants with minimum seven years of residency to apply for full citizenship of the country. The investor will enjoy all the privileges enjoyed by a citizen of the EU after obtaining full Greek citizenship. The Bill is expected to be tabled shortly and experts anticipate the changes to come into effect by the end of 2014.
Other proposed changes include permitting transfer of the residency permit to a new non-EU immigrant investor if the property is sold within its validity period of five years. Currently, sale of property causes the visa to lapse, which prevents the buyer from enjoying the benefits of the residency permit.
Further, the amended law will allow investor to seek residency for their parents as well. Currently, non-EU immigrant investors can seek residency for their spouses and dependent children aged below 21 years. These changes, along with the option of applying for citizenship, are expected to boost the popularity of the existing investment residence scheme.
Immigration experts and property specialists in Greece are of the view that the proposed changes will attract investment from investors from China and Russia. The Greek government has been promoting its Golden Visa program in the Middle East and the proposed law will boost foreign investments into Greece.
On the possibility of an adverse domestic reaction, experts have pointed out that applicants will be required to fulfill investment and residency requirements that are designed to attract only those investors who intend to demonstrate their long-term commitment towards Greece. The stringent norms are designed to deflect criticisms about sale of Greek citizenship to the highest bidder.
Highlighting Greece’s reputation as a hospitable nation, property specialists opine that immigrant investors seeking to contribute to Greece’s development will receive a warm welcome. Efforts of the government like setting up of cultural centers and foreign language schools will help the citizens make the foreign investors feel at home in Greece.
Apart from benefiting the property market of the country, the proposed amendments are also expected to attract more investments into the tourism and infrastructure sector. The current investment residence program, which is one of the cheapest in the EU costing around 50% of the cost of similar programs in Spain and Portugal, is receiving good response from investors residing in Russia, China, and Egypt. With the proposed changes, the new law is expected to generate significant benefits for Greece spread over many years in the future.