Despite the economic cost and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disruption in global mobility in 2020 has helped Greece resolve the issue of long waiting periods and processing delays for its golden visa program.
One of the least-expensive golden visa programs in the EU, Greece’s golden visa was a victim of its own popularity with demand far exceeding the processing capacity of immigration bureaus in the country.
370% Surge in Monthly Approvals in 2021
As of early 2019, investors were staring at waiting times in excess of 12 months just to schedule an appointment for the processing of their applications. The average waiting period for a decision on the Greek golden visa application ranged between three and five months.
While 2020 was a severely impacted by the pandemic, even the first half of 2021 did not bring a lot of cheer to golden visa investors. Greece approved just 117 golden visa applications between January and May 2021.
To put it in perspective, weekly golden visa approvals in Greece in 2019 was 300 percent higher than approvals in Portugal. This gap had virtually vanished by May 2021 despite no significant surge in golden visa approvals by Portugal.
Greece’s Decision to Restructure Immigration Processing Worked
However, Greece seems to be back in the business of attracting golden visa investments with approvals between June and September 2021 jumping by over 365 percent compared to the first five months of the year.
From a waiting time of more than a year, golden visa investors are receiving approvals in less than a month or, in some cases, even within days of applying for this EU investment immigration program.
This surge in processing is primarily due to Greece’s decision to process investor visa applications separately. In the past, immigration bureaus in Greece processed all immigration applications together, ranging from work permits and asylum applications to those for the golden visa.
This system was just not adequate to cope with investor demand for Greek golden visas. Approvals witnessed a ten-fold surge in just five years, from 338 approvals in 2014 to more than 3,500 approvals in 2019.
Processing times did not improve despite just 938 approvals in 2020, which prompted Greece to separate investor visa processing from other categories of immigration applications.
New Frontier for the Greek Golden Visa: Africa
Another interesting development is the rising popularity of Greece’s golden visa programs with investors from Africa. China has been the biggest source of demand for golden visas across the world, and the same is true for Greece.
Since the program’s introduction, close to 70 percent of all approved main applications and 66 percent of all approved dependent applications were from China.
In 2021 there has been a sharp increase in the number of applications from Africa. Interestingly, South Africa is not among the top-five countries with highest demand for the Greek program. Algerians are seeking EU permanent residence through Greece followed by candidates from Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, and Zambia.
Another interesting addition to the list of top-ten countries across the world with high demand for the Greek golden visa is the USA. More than 300 Americans, including dependent family members, have qualified for permanent residence in Greece through its investor visa.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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