The Spanish Golden Visa scheme, which came into force in 2013, has recently become one of the most successful, compared to similar visa schemes provided by other EU jurisdictions. Under the scheme, foreign citizens who make a significant capital investment can obtain a residence permit for a period of 2 years, which will be renewable every 5 years.
Applicants have to place at least:
(a) €2 million in Spanish public debt;
(b) €1 million in Spanish businesses or a bank deposit; or
(c) €0.5 million in real property.
This third option has proven to be the most popular, as it has attracted 72% of the overall investment under the scheme. The total investment in 2016 reached €2,157 million.
In particular, the cash investment in real property reached €1,554 million in 2016, according to figures provided by the Ministries of Economics, Foreign Affairs and Employment in Spain. Some 59% of such capital comes from Chinese and Russian citizens; this is followed by Egyptian and Turkish citizens. Almost half of the investors buying property in Spain for a Golden Visa choose luxury flats or townhouses in Barcelona. Others preferred purchase locations are Madrid and Marbella.
Several factors have pushed this recent success. Primarily, the reform carried out by the Spanish Government in 2015 eased some of the legal conditions required of the applicants and allowed relatives to apply together with the main applicant. It also removed the need to travel to Spain and generously extended the renewal period of the permit.
In addition, despite other countries having established lower requirements (Greece, for example, only requires half of the investment), it seems that Spain is a more attractive destination. This may be because the country happens to have outstanding quality of life standards and has also become a centre of innovation, and a major connecting hub. These aspects, together with the recent economic recovery and the emerging opportunity to buy new housing from renovated buildings have made the Spanish Golden Visa one of the most popular in Europe.