Why do South African Nationals Want to Migrate to Greece?
South African Nationals are looking at acquiring a second citizenship and passport for their families and themselves in record numbers. A second citizenship and passport can be for immediate use or as a “plan B”.
There are a number of countries in Europe that are proving to be very popular targets for obtaining residency by investment, such as Cyprus, Spain, Malta, Portugal and especially Greece.
Another less travelled route is through the citizenship by ancestry offered by countries such as France and the Netherlands which are also a popular destinations. However, it is not common for many individuals to be eligible for the ancestry route, hence we advise those interested in applying to complete a free eligibility test with one of our lawyers.
Why is the Greece Golden Visa popular with South African Nationals?
As Greece is emerging from a difficult decade economically, it has quickly become a very well-liked option by South African Nationals.
Greece permanent residency
On the latest update for living permanently in Greece, there are currently no nationality requirements for the Greek Investment Residency Program (GIRP or the Greek Golden Visa) other than that the applicant must be from a non-EU country. As a result, the program is attractive to South African Nationals who may at times face significant restrictions on travel and the like. Under the program, you can also legally live permanently in Greece.
Advantages of Greek Golden Visa, including no residency requirement
For the time being, the Greek Golden Visa also does not require residency in Greece, which is especially of interest for those seeing the residency permit as a contingency only.
Reasons for South African Interest in Greece
However, a substantial number of South African Nationals who have been granted the Greek Golden Visa (GIRP visa) have chosen to move to Greece quickly as Greece can be an appealing place to live. For example, the education and health systems in Greece are good and subsidized and is effectively free. The lifestyle is also generally excellent and the weather is fair with no winter extremes you may find in other countries.
Alternative to traditional destinations
The traditional destinations for South African migrants have been the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Despite this, there are two main factors that have recently been causing South African Nationals to consider other choices.
Stricter immigration laws in the big four
The first reason is that the above four countries are generally stricter with their immigration laws and requires, which makes the process more difficult.
Lower cost of living compared to big four
Second is the cost of living. While Greece is a little more expensive than South Africa, according to livingcost.org, a website that monitors living cost globally, there is only a 7 or 8 % difference. By comparison, the big four traditional destinations for South African migrant cost a great deal more.
How does Greece compare for the cost of living?
In general, for a family of four, Greece has an average rent of USD 736 for each month and food expenses are USD 337 per month, totalling to USD 1,073.
In comparison, the United Kingdom has an average rent of USD 1,824 per month and food costs are another USD 426, for a sum of USD 2,332. Canada’s average rent was USD 1,824 and food expenses USD 513, for a sum of USD 2,337.
Australia is a fraction cheaper with rent at USD 1,701 and food at USD 495, summing to USD 2,296. Lastly, the United States’ average rent is USD 2,220 and food USD 543, for a total of USD 2,763.
Put another way, for every one of the traditional alternatives, the cost of living is far more than double the cost to live in Greece (or South Africa, as it is similar to Greece).
Can you buy residency in Greece?
As previously mentioned, the restrictions on residency by investment in Greece are relatively easy and there is no residency requirement as noted. There are also no language, career, or education limitations.
The GIRP program is also a considerably more affordable option compared to a few other residency by investment programs. It only requires a minimum investment of EUR 250,000 in property.
The GIRP is not only one of the cheapest programs, but it is also one of the most flexible.
The property investment can be in commercial property or residential; in one property or multiple; individually or with partners (provided the minimum commitment for any applicant is above the EUR 250,000 threshold); and it can be freehold or leasehold.
For leasehold, the minimum prepayment must be above the EUR 250,000 limit and the lease must be at of 10 years or more.
You can commit the funds individually or through a wholly owned company in Greece.
How long does it take to get approval for residency by investment in Greece?
Approval of an application usually takes 2 months or less. The permit is valid for 5 years and can cover a spouse, children, and parents. You can renew the permit after 5 years, which effectively gives indefinite residency.
After 7 years, you and your family members are eligible to apply for Greek citizenship and a second passport.
Where can I go to get questions answered?
For professional advice, please feel free to contact Harvey Law Group (HLG). HLG is a leading global firm specialising in immigration law and investment immigration. With offices in over 20 countries, including South Africa, you can schedule an appointment for a consultation at +27 087 109 0725 or [email protected]
If you would like to know more about the Greek Golden Visa, you can visit the program page