First of all, we are talking about Russian citizens with income levels significantly above average, which allows such citizens to act as investors in the economies of many EU countries. This could be obtaining citizenship by purchasing real estate, investing financial resources in investment funds, government bonds and many other options for exchanging investments for citizenship.
In addition, EU citizenship through the purchase of real estate makes it possible to quickly change your place of residence in the event of force majeure and at the same time not lose your savings, which can be safely stored in accounts in foreign banks. Thus, second citizenship provides its holders (almost always these are the applicant’s immediate family members) with much more opportunities than those immigrants who have the status of a residence permit or permanent residence.
Read about where in Europe it is better to buy real estate in our article.
Obtaining European citizenship when purchasing real estate
Currently, a program called the Golden Visa – citizenship in exchange for investment in the local economy – operates in European countries such as Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Spain and Portugal. True, it is also possible to acquire a second citizenship for real estate abroad in the Caribbean countries, which are actively implementing their own “citizenship in exchange for investment” programs. At the moment, passports of such island states as:
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Santa Lucia
- Saint Vincent
Each of these countries offers visa-free entry into all EU countries and the UK, as well as simplified visa applications for the US and Canada. The most attractive thing about these programs, which are under the control of the state and served by a whole team of lawyers, attorneys, notaries and Russian-speaking managers, is the time and cost of obtaining a passport, although in some cases citizenship through the purchase of real estate is quite expensive.
First of all, these are Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Saint Kitts and Nevis, where the minimum cost of real estate that allows you to count on citizenship is 400 thousand dollars – exactly four times more than in Dominica. However, citizenship of the Caribbean countries, despite the absence of the need to live in them, does not suit all wealthy Russians, who are increasingly making their choice in favor of Europe.
European citizenship when purchasing real estate – investment programs
By the end of 2019, there were five investment programs in Europe called “Golden Visa”, thanks to which it would be possible to obtain EU citizenship when purchasing real estate relatively quickly and without delay.
Greece Investment Program
Greece continues to be somewhat of an exception to the rule, since from the moment of obtaining a residence permit in the country to a full-fledged passport, the longest period passes – 12 years. Moreover, regardless of the circumstances, the applicant for Greek citizenship will have to pass exams on knowledge of the local language, history and culture. However, in terms of the minimum price for the purchase of real estate (residential or commercial), amounting to 250 thousand euros per applicant without taxes and fees, Greece is significantly ahead of all other countries.
Portugal Investment Program
In Portugal, for 250 thousand euros you can only become a philanthropist who irrevocably invested this amount in the development of national culture or traditional crafts and in exchange receive a residence permit. Citizenship through the purchase of real estate starts at 350 thousand euros, and this amount applies only to dilapidated residential buildings built no earlier than 1990 and often in need of major repairs. The most prestigious “Golden Visa”, and with it a residence permit, then permanent residence and after six years – citizenship, is issued to buyers of residential real estate in large cities in the amount of 500 thousand euros.
Spain Investment Program
A similar amount (half a million euros) without any discounts for cities with low population density or historical buildings will have to be paid by applicants for citizenship when purchasing real estate in Spain. The difference is that with all the existing benefits offered to investors by the Spanish Golden Visa, they will have to wait ten years for citizenship. True, now residence permits are received not only by the investor and his family members (including the unofficial spouse), but also by adult children, but at the same time they must be single and fully dependent on their parents.
However, residence permits and permanent residence permits obtained under the Golden Visa program, in contrast to the entry into force of this program, provide all its holders with the right to work.
Malta Investment Program
Acquiring Maltese citizenship through the purchase of real estate is much faster, but also more expensive than in all of the above cases.
- Firstly, costs start with the purchase of real estate at a price of 350 thousand euros.
- Secondly, after completing the purchase and sale transaction, it is necessary to make a contribution to the National Development Fund of the country in a fixed amount of 650 thousand euros, and this payment will not be returned under any circumstances.
Maltese citizenship is not granted immediately, but after the applicant receives a residence permit, who will first be checked for reliability (including financial) and then sworn in.
Cyprus Investment Program
Finally, the record holder for the amount required to obtain EU citizenship when purchasing real estate is Cyprus. A Cyprus passport is issued to foreigners who have purchased property in Cyprus at a market value of at least 2 million euros.
A distinctive feature of the future Cypriot is the condition of owning this property for at least three years, after which, in order to maintain his new status, he can sell only part of the property in order to retain housing worth at least 500 thousand euros.
The investment programs of these five European countries may differ in terms of registration time, document requirements and amounts for which you can obtain EU citizenship when purchasing real estate, but they have many common features. And in addition to visa-free entry into many countries of the world, these include, first of all, the possibility of employment in any EU country, as well as the simultaneous acquisition of citizenship for immediate relatives, which often allows you to save your family.