The Greece golden visa program is extremely popular among global investors and, as Greek authorities are now discovering, such popularity comes with its own set of complications and issues.
Exploding demand for the program has led to a huge backlog of applications from wealthy investors from across the globe.
The program offers permanent residence in the EU against a minimum investment of just €250,000 in real estate.
Applications filed 18 months ago are still pending and the delay has prompted the Greek Migration Police Ministry to liberalize filing rules for speedier processing.
The delay has been attributed to the surge in applications received by Decentralized Authorities, which are regional state authorities operating above Regional Authorities in the country.
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Existing rules require the investment immigration application to be filed with the Decentralized Authority in the province in which the property is located.
Since the bulk of demand for Greek properties is centered around Athens and other tourist hotspots, this has led to a huge backlog of applications among three authorities covering Athens, Piraeus, and Pallini.
Investors seeking appointments for their golden visa applications have been, in some cases, asked to wait until 2021, a delay comparable with the US EB-5 program.
The Migration Police Ministry has stepped in to tackle this issue and has delinked the location of the property underlying the golden visa investment and the Decentralized Authority for filing of applications.
Now, investors can file their golden visa application with any Decentralized Authority irrespective of the location of the property investment.
The government’s move was widely appreciated by investors and property owners alike.
Greek economic recovery
The golden visa program is recognized as a significant contributor to the Greek economic recovery seen in recent years.
Inflow of foreign investment into the country’s property sector has contributed to revival of the tourism, construction, commercial real estate, and hospitality sectors.
Despite being the cheapest golden visa program in the region, the Greek program faces significant competition from similar programs offered by Portugal, Spain, Malta, and Cyprus.
The latter two countries offer citizenship by investment programs as well, albeit at a significantly higher cost.
The delay in processing of applications had already begun to cost Greece with reports indicating that foreign investors had begun turning to other EU countries offering faster golden visa processing.
While the move related to Decentralized Authorities may have resolved the issue, industry watchers have urged the government to come up with a permanent solution.
The experts have pointed out that the issue of overload of applications will recur unless the overall capacity of the authorities to handle golden visa applications does not increase significantly.
A recurrence of this issue, coupled with more aggressive attempts by other countries to attract golden visa investors, may lead to a significant opportunity loss for the Greek economy.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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