Buoyed by the recent boost in foreign investment in its real estate sector, Spain announced an extension of its ‘Golden Visa’ investment immigration scheme, primarily to maintain the current high level of foreign interest in the Spanish property market.
Foreign investment is fuelling the recovery of Spain’s property market, a sector that has been struggling since 2008 when the property crash brought down the country’s economy with it. Figures show that foreign investors bought 12.2 per cent of residential properties in the first quarter of 2015, up from nine per cent in 2006.
Encouraged by the increase in foreign investment, the Spanish government has announced that residence permits will also be granted to ‘Golden Visa’ investors’ parents and children – adults as well as minors. Until now, only the spouse and minor children were granted residence permits.
Through the end of 2014, 490 ‘Golden visas’ had been granted to non-EU investors since the scheme was unveiled in September 2013. Most of the investors have been from China, with citizens of Russia, Angola, Brazil, South Africa, and India also participating.
Under the program, foreigners investing over €500,000 in real estate, public debt, or businesses in Spain automatically qualify for a residence permit. In case of a real estate investment, the investor must retain the property in order to continue enjoying the benefits of the residence permit.
Spain is one of several European nations to have introduced investment immigration programs whereby residence permits are granted to high net worth foreigners in exchange for an investment in prime real estate. Other European countries with similar programs include Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus. In Greece and Hungary, the minimum property investment has to be €250,000, while in Cyprus the investment requirement is €300,000. Portugal, like Spain, has set the minimum investment at €500,000. Malta’s program is geared to ultra high net worth individuals and grants citizenship in exchange for substantial investment into the country.
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