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Many of Europe’s ‘golden visa’ programs are closing – but demand soars in this Mediterranean hotspot

WorldEuropeMany of Europe's 'golden visa' programs are closing – but demand soars in this Mediterranean hotspot
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An escape to the Greek islands is the stuff of fantasy for many, best lived in a two-week vacation.

For others, it is a lifestyle choice. If, that is, they have money to spend.

Greece has seen a surge in the number of people applying for its “invest by residence” program in 2022, even as such projects elsewhere fall out of support.

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According to recent data from the Greek Ministry of Asylum and Migration, issuance of the country’s “golden visa” scheme – which grants a five-year residence permit to individuals investing a minimum of $250,000 in Greek real estate – nearly doubled last year. 2,767 happened. ,

This is up from 1,525 in 2021.

And while Chinese citizens are the program’s top applicants, accounting for 63% of all applications since its inception in 2014, a new group of investors is emerging: wealthy Americans.

Applications from high-net-worth US citizens soared 740% in 2021 alone, according to investment immigration firm Aston, with Greece ranked as Americans’ third favorite “residence by investment” destination after Portugal and the UK.

Portugal and Ireland abolish citizenship by investment

Portugal has been a favorite destination for wealthy expatriate Americans for many years because of its temperate climate, good quality of life and access to the European Union’s borderless travel area.

But last month with the country’s decision scrap its program Coming days after similar moves, for high-net-worth non-Europeans IrelandGreece may be poised to take the crown.

Alina Lesina, immigration specialist for Astons USA, said it looks likely that Greece will now become the “destination of choice” for wealthy American immigrants.

“Not only has this been the second most popular European Golden Visa scheme among US investors in recent years, but it has also seen a significant increase in interest on an annual basis,” LeCina said.

Applications for Greece’s “golden visa” program soared 740% in 2021 among wealthy US citizens.

Matteo Colombo | Stone | Getty Images

Olympia Anastasopoulou, secretary general for tourism policy and development within Greece’s tourism ministry, said the trend was surprising given the wide appeal the country already has among holidaymakers.

“Compared to these other countries, we have a competitive advantage,” Anastasopoulou told CNBC Travel at ITB Berlin.

“We have a low cost of living, a great climate year-round, and we’re repeating the program as needed,” she said.

Greece has already announced it will double its minimum investment limit to $500,000 from May, bringing it closer to similar programs in other countries such as Spain.

Anastasopoulou said it was “to protect the local real estate market and to protect young people.” But she said the changes would be open to reevaluation and possible adaptation.

More countries introduced ‘Golden Visa’

Greece ranks among the world’s leading “invest by residence” programs latest index From citizenship and residency advisory firm Henley & Partners.

European countries currently dominate the range of such indices, scoring highly for processing time, quality of life and overall cost.

But even though some countries on the continent ban golden visas, the race to attract the wealthy is heating up globally.

African nations are among those offering new residency and dual citizenship programs in return for an injection of capital from individuals with cash to spend.

Kenya is currently in the advanced stages of introducing citizenship by investment. there is also uganda Allegedly Looking into similar programs.

They join the likes of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, which offers residence to those investing a minimum of $375,000 in one of six luxury real estate developments. Nearby Seychelles offers citizenship on investment of at least $1 million.

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