We use cookies on this site to ensure the most desirable user experience. By continuing to browse this website you are giving implied consent. Find out more.

The cost of European residence by investment

PUBLISHED: 11 November 2020

A residence card in a prosperous and economically developed country opens a lot of great opportunities to its owner. However, there are so many myths and misconceptions about the residence status that it is hard sometimes to tell right from wrong, especially for the unprepared. Therefore, we need to talk in detail about obtaining a residence permit in Europe, and even more so about a fastest route – residence by investment.

What is European residence by investment?

A common definition of a residence card is a document that permits entry to and stay in an issuing country for several years. First of all, it includes all types of long-term visas that, as opposed to short-term ones, are only granted to those who have solid grounds and reasons to move to a foreign country for a long time.

You can apply for a residence permit if you plan to study, work, do business, volunteer or invest in another country. Personal reasons include reuniting with the family or marrying a foreign national. A residence permit can be also granted for a much rarer occasion such as repatriation or special merits and achievements.

How to get a residence card in Europe quickly?

The fastest and easiest way to move to Europe is to apply for residence by investment. There are much less requirements for an investor: no need to learn the language, provide evidence of education or professional qualifications.

European residence by investment

A number of European countries offer foreign nationals to become residency under simple residence by investment programs. To do that, you must invest money in the national economy by choosing one of the 5 options:

  1. Purchase of real estate for the minimum amount established by law.
  2. Deposit of a necessary amount to a bank account in the country of future residence.
  3. Purchase of shares, stocks or government bonds.
  4. Investing in shares of locally registered companies.
  5. Combination of the options above.

ВНЖ за инвестиции в Европе

European residence and citizenship

Residence by investment programs in Europe are normally more affordable than similar citizenship by investment schemes. For example, to get an EU passport, you must invest at least €1.15 million and there are only two such offers – Malta and Cyprus*.

*Note: Cyprus citizenship by investment program has been suspended from 01 November 2020.

You get a residence permit within a couple of months while it takes 5 to 10 years to naturalise in most European countries.

Another important advantage for investors is that they can bring their family with them, including a spouse and financially dependent children.

Other benefits of European residence by investment

  1. If you apply for residence under one of the European residence by investment programs, you can travel within the Schengen zone without a visa.
  2. You get access to high-quality healthcare and your children can study in the best universities of the world.
  3. Banks will be more flexible in dealing with you: it will be easier to open an account in a European bank and apply for loans with a low interest rate.
  4. It is easier for European residents to develop their business abroad, outside of the domestic market.
  5. Invested money can be recovered after a few years as permitted by law.

Are there disadvantages of European residence by investment?

Good point. Everything we have covered so far sounds so good that it is not clear at all whether it is necessary to take next steps – apply for permanent residence and then citizenship.

Do not forget that a residence permit is given for a limited period of time, no matter how long it might be, and has an expiration date. Therefore, it must be extended, which requires time and money. Permanent residence and citizenship, however, are granted indefinitely in most cases. You have to commit a serious crime or offence for the authorities to revoke your residence or nationality.

Another disadvantage of a residence card is closely related to a common misconception about residence status in Europe. As opposed to citizenship, a temporary residence card does not give you right to live in another EU country. Yes, you can travel to another European country and stay there for up to 90 days every six months, but you must be a national of that country to be able to live there permanently.

In other words, if your goal when applying for residence by investment is to live abroad, plan ahead and think how you are going to get an EU passport.

Что такое ВНЖ в Европе?

How to get residence by investment in Europe and other parts of the world

Even if the country you want to move to does not have a special investment program, there must be routes for investors where immigration authorities have less requirements and more flexibility.

Therefore, if you are ready to invest, you have more options of obtaining residence in a lot of countries. Our experts have made a compilation of the most popular programs.

European residence by investment

For your convenience, we have put residence by investment programs in Europe in a table below.

Country

Benefits

Investment amount

Latvia

Affordable Golden Visa program

Mild climate

Low cost of living

Visa-free travel to EU countries

From €250,000

Portugal

Safe and secure environment

No tax on foreign income for the first 10 years

Entry to Schengen zone without visa

Opportunity to open a company in other EU states

From €250,000

Spain

No need to speak the language and show professional qualifications

High standards of healthcare and education

Opportunity to invest by way of a deposit in a Spanish bank

Freedom of movement within EU and Switzerland

From €500,000

Malta

Residence card in 3 weeks

Tax benefits and no property tax

Free movement within Schengen zone

High living standards

From €330,000

Belgium

Developed economy and infrastructure

High quality of living

Visa-free travel within EU

Tax benefits for businesses

From €200,000

Switzerland

Developed banking sector

Secure and safe environment

Low tax rates

Visa-free travel to over 155 countries

From €232,500 (annual tax contributions)

 UK residence by investment

Because the United Kingdom is still part of Europe, though not part of the EU after Brexit, we would like to talk about UK residence separately.

There is no special residence or citizenship by investment program in Great Britain for generous foreign investors. However, a UK Tier 1 Investor visa offers as many if not more benefits as Golden Visa schemes in continental Europe.

ВНЖ за инвестиции в Великобритании

How much do I need to invest in the UK?

Say, you can invest as much as £10 million – then you will be able to apply for UK settlement, also known as an indefinite leave to remain, after 2 years. How does it work?

  1. If you invest £2 million, you can apply for ILR in 5 years and for a UK passport in 6 years.
  2. £5 million investment will reduce the number of years to settlement to 3 years and to British citizenship to 5 years.
  3. If you are ready to invest £10 million and more, as we have already mentioned, you and your family can settle in 2 years and become British citizens in 5 years after arriving in the country.

How to get permanent residence in Great Britain?

Neither permanent residence status nor UK nationality are granted automatically. While you need to make an investment, be of good character and in good health to get an investor visa, you and your family members must show a good level of spoken English test and knowledge of customs and traditions in the UK to be able to apply for settlement. This can be done by passing two tests.

There are also criteria for investments: you can only invest money in the real sector of the economy, i.e. in shares of UK-registered companies.

Provided all conditions are met, you are given the right to live in one of the world financial hubs with great business, education and employment opportunities.

Canada residence by investment

We decided to add to our list of residence by investment programs a country from a different continent – Canada. It is a good alternative for those who:

  • Have been planning to move across the ocean and has nothing against the Canadian province of Quebec.
  • Have held on their bank account an amount equivalent to CAD $2 million (around USD $1.5M) and are prepared to invest 1.2M in the region for the next 5 years.

It is also required from the main applicant to have at least 2 years of experience in managing significant material, financial or human resources, and that experience must not be gained earlier than 5 years before moving to Canada.

These requirements from the Canadian government might put someone off investing in that North American country. However, residence by investment in Canada is worth such ‘sacrifices’ as it opens a door to a free and modern country with high standards of healthcare and education as well as fantastic business and personal development opportunities. A Canadian residence permit will give you a visa-free, e-visa or visa-on-arrival access to around 160 countries.

Conclusion

Obtaining a residence card of another country does not always mean you will necessarily leave your own country, but it does mean new opportunities and possibilities. The best way to become resident in a country is to invest in it. Some countries offer special citizenship schemes, others, like the UK, have historically attracted investors by providing an environment where people and businesses thrive.

No matter which country you choose to apply for a residence by investment, you will need professional legal support. Our qualified lawyers at Imperial & Legal have extensive practical experience in such matters and are ready to provide assistance at every stage of obtaining a residence permit by investment.

FAQ about getting the European residence by investment

What are the benefits of European residence by investment programs?

We have presented the opportunities available for an investor after the investor is granted permission to relocate to Europe, but we have only briefly mentioned the actual benefits of European residence by investment programs. They are as follows:

  1. There are much more European countries offering residence by investment programs than those offering citizenship by investment schemes;
  2. As usual, European residence by investment is more affordable than a second passport;
  3. Obtaining a residence card also takes an investor much less time than getting citizenship by investment;
  4. An applicant may include their family members in the application for residence by investment;
  5. Under the majority of European residence by investment programs an applicant is not required to have knowledge of the language or cultural traditions of their new country of residence;
  6. If you have invested into real estate, securities, corporate assets or a bank deposit, you can get a considerable part of the money back after a few years.

Which European country offers most residence by investment programs?

According to legal experts of Imperial & Legal, this country is the Republic of Malta, which offers three routes to obtain residence by investment:

  • Malta Residence Program for special tax status for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals;
  • Malta Global Residence Program for special tax status;
  • Malta Golden Visa investment program.

The first two programs are aimed at foreigners who do not plan to spend more than 183 days a year in Malta, but wish to get residence to enjoy the advantageous tax regime of the Republic of Malta. Such investors get the special status through purchase or long-term lease of a property in the country.

Foreign investors who want to get a permanent residence permit in Malta opt for the Malta Golden Visa program. In 1-3 years’ time after getting residence, they make additional investments and apply to obtain European citizenship on a fast-track basis.

What is the lump-sum tax and what does it have to do with getting Swiss residence?

The lump-sum tax is a fixed sum of money which an investor pays annually into the budget of a Swiss canton to get the Swiss residence. The precise sum is negotiated with the local authorities on an individual basis. The sum depends on the home country of the immigrant (immigrants from the EU countries tend to pay less) and the canton of the Swiss Confederation. A third-country national usually pays over 200 000 CHF.

It might not seem the best way to get European residence, unless you take into account the very special nature of the Swiss tax regime. The wealthiest investors opt for Swiss residence because they find it advantageous to be taxed at one fixed rate on their huge income.

Can I get a residence card of an EU member country and settle in another European jurisdiction?

Unfortunately, you can’t. A residence card gives you a visa-free access to EU member countries and even the right to stay there for a short time, but does not give you any right to settle there.

You can only make your dream come true if you get a passport after several years of being a resident. In Malta, an investor can obtain the European citizenship in a year’s time after getting Maltese residence, provided they have made additional investments in the economy of Malta.

EU citizens indeed have the right to live in any EU state. Given that German, French or Spanish citizenship is rather difficult to obtain, and the process might take about 10-12 years, investors first relocate to the jurisdictions offering citizenship in 1-5 years’ time, and as soon as they have obtained it, they settle in the state they choose.

How do I get the UK permanent residence permit fast?

In order to obtain the UK Indefinite Leave to Remain you need to fulfill two requirements:

  1. You need to invest in the share or debt capital of UK companies at least £5,000,000;
  2. You need to pass the Life in the UK test, speak fluent English and provide proof of your knowledge of the language (it can be a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree obtained at a university based in an English-speaking country).

Depending on how much you have invested, you can apply for the UK permanent residence permit in:

  • 2 years – if you have invested £10,000,000;
  • 3 years – if you have invested £5,000,000.

If you obtain the UK permanent residence permit under the accelerated procedure, you can get the UK citizenship a year earlier – after 5 years of permanent stay in the country.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.

Make an enquiry

One of our qualified advisors will get back to you today or next business day.

    Detailed information on how we process your data can be found on our privacy policy.