Europe Golden Visa: A Comparison

Where They Stand Now ?

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment program that allows individuals and their families to obtain residency rights in a foreign country by making a qualifying investment. These investments typically include purchasing real estate in Europe, investing in businesses, or contributing to government bonds or funds. Golden Visas have been popular among wealthy individuals seeking to gain residency or citizenship in Europe, often as a means of accessing better education, healthcare, and business opportunities, or as a hedge against political instability in their home countries.

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5 key points about Europe Golden Visas:

  1. Europe Golden Visa programs offer residency and sometimes citizenship in exchange for investment. This investment can be in real estate, businesses, or government funds.
  2. Many European countries are reforming or phasing out their Golden Visa programs. This is due to concerns about the impact on housing markets and a desire to prioritize residency for skilled individuals.
  3. Portugal’s Golden Visa now requires investment in funds, not real estate. It offers residency for 3 generations and a pathway to citizenship.
  4. Greece’s Golden Visa has increased minimum investment thresholds and created zones with different investment amounts. It offers residency for 3 generations and a pathway to citizenship.
  5. Spain’s Golden Visa no longer allows real estate investment. It now requires a large deposit in a Spanish bank. It offers residency and a pathway to citizenship.
  6. Hungary’s Golden Visa The Hungary Golden Visa grants a 10-year residency permit (renewable) to non-EU citizens for a €250,000 investment.

The Future of Golden Visas in Europe

Europe Golden Visa programs have long been attractive options for investors, offering residency and later citizenship in exchange for investment, and attracting wealthy individuals seeking access to the European Union’s benefits. However, recent years have seen significant changes and reforms in these programs, prompting a reevaluation by potential investors.
With European countries such as the UK and Ireland being amongst the first to phase out their Europe Golden Visa programs in 2022 and 2023 respectively, and others taking steps to reform their programs, Europe is seeing a notable shift in its approach to residency-by-investment schemes.

Portugal’s Golden Visa

Portugal’s Golden Visa program, once a popular choice among investors, underwent significant amendments in October 2023, removing the option of investing in real estate. Investors now have the sole option of investing a minimum of EUR 500,000 into qualifying funds such as private equity and venture capital funds, in areas including technology, football, and agribusiness.

The application process has faced setbacks due to Covid-19 related disruptions, leading to backlogs and delays. Despite this, the new law is likely to allow for successful applicants to apply for citizenship 5 years from the date of their application, rather than 5 years from the issuance of the residency permit. This also allows for a much earlier return on investments.

Residency in Portugal extends to three generations of family members, allowing individuals and their families to live, work and study in Portugal, with a pathway to citizenship despite minimal residency requirements. The program also allows for visa-free travel within the Schengen area and the benefit of Portugal’s favorable tax regime.

Greece’s Golden Visa

Greece has been known for offering one of the quickest pathways to European residency through the Greek Golden Visa program. However, the Prime Minister of Greece recently announced significant changes to the program, including revised investment thresholds and zoning classifications within Greece. By raising the minimum investment threshold to 500,000 EUR for many areas of the country, an increase from 250,000 EUR, the update aimed to address concerns about the impact of the program on local property markets. The new rules demonstrate three distinct area zones in Greece with their own investment thresholds, with the most popular locations such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini having the highest minimum investment of EUR 800,000.

With minimal residency requirements, investors can benefit from visa-free travel within the Schengen zone, the option to apply for citizenship after 7 years, and allows for three generations of dependents to be included in the application.


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    Spain’s Golden Visa

    Spain has now followed in the footsteps of Portugal, with the Prime Minister of Spain announcing plans to reform the program. Previously, the Spanish Golden Visa program allowed investors to obtain residency by investing a minimum of 500,000 EUR in real estate. In April 2024, Spain announced the removal of the Golden Visa real estate option as part of the government’s push to prioritize housing as a right rather than a business. Now, investors have the sole option of depositing a minimum of EUR 1,000,000 into an accredited Spanish bank.

    Spain’s decision to remove the option of real estate investment from its Golden Visa program signals a departure from the traditional model of Golden Visas, suggesting a move towards ultimately phasing out the program entirely. 

    Investors will benefit from visa free travel within the Schengen area, the right to work, live and study in Spain with access to an EU standard of education and healthcare, and minimal residency requirements. After 5 years of residency, individuals may apply for Spanish citizenship.

    Hungary’s Golden visa :  Easy Path to EU Residency (NEW)

    Hungary’s Golden Visa program  offers a streamlined path to 10-year EU residency (renewable) with visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Area.
    Here’s the key benefit: The minimum investment starts at just EUR 250,000 (real estate funds) or EUR 500,000 (property purchase).

    What makes it unique? Unlike other programs, Hungary has no language, education, or residency requirements, making it a flexible and obtainable option. Considering other European Golden Visas? Hungary stands out with its affordability, relaxed requirements, and lower cost of living compared to many European capitals. This program is ideal for Investors seeking an alternative path to EU residency with long-term potential (permanent residency or citizenship).

    An Alternative Option to Europe Golden Visa Programs: France Talent Passport

    Amidst the changes in Europe’s Golden Visa landscape, France’s Talent Passport program emerges as an alternative for investors seeking residency rights. This program targets individuals with exceptional talent or skills, offering a streamlined pathway to residency without the need for significant financial investment. France’s Talent Passport provides a viable alternative option for those looking to establish roots in Europe. 

    A second option under the France Talent Passport is the Business Creation Program offering the same rights to live, work and study in France for all those included in the application. The financial requirements are a minimum investment of EUR 30,000 in an economically viable business in France and sufficient annual financial, corresponding to the latest statutory national minimum wage (SMIC) in France.

    What now?

    Despite these changes, each country continues to offer opportunities for investors seeking residency in Europe. Alternative avenues to residency, such as business contributions or fund investments, may become more prominent in the absence of real estate options.

    With over 30 years of experience, Harvey Law Group is a leading international law firm specialised in Citizenship and Residency by Investment programs, operating in over 20 offices worldwide. If you would like to discuss options for European Golden Visas further, or are interested in any other Citizenship by Investment or Residency by Investment programs, contact us by email at [email protected].