Over the span of 2011 to 2019, a substantial 132,000 individuals have acquired citizenship through Residency and Citizenship Investment programs, a route offered by European countries including Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
In the face of macroeconomic challenges and a series of defaults in the property sector, these initiatives have witnessed a significant surge in interest. According to a recent report by Biz News, while concerns over visa acquisition difficulty have been raised, the process of obtaining visas through these investment-based programs has not become notably more strenuous.
The lure of these programs has been particularly evident in Portugal. In 2022, Portuguese authorities issued a total of 1,218 golden visas. Impressively, in the first six months of the current year, the country witnessed an even more pronounced engagement, with 861 applications received. This represents a substantial uptick from the 624 applications submitted during the same period last year.
Greece has mirrored this trend, recording a surge in applicants for its golden visa program. In 2022, the nation received a total of 4,365 golden visa applications, with a staggering 2,432 of those applications submitted in the last quarter of the year.
Italy, too, witnessed a doubling of its golden visa issuances in the preceding year. With 79 golden visas granted in 2022, the majority of beneficiaries hailed from Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Spain emerged as another contender, with authorities granting a total of 2,462 golden visas in 2022. This represents a notable increase of 60% compared to the statistics of 2021.
Ireland entered the arena with vigor as well. In 2022, the country garnered a noteworthy 1,160 applications for its golden visa program. The momentum has continued into 2023, with a total of 1,350 golden visa applications recorded from January to May.
Despite this surge in interest, the future of these visa programs remains uncertain, giving rise to a growing demand for alternative options. The concept of the digital nomad visa is gaining traction, as individuals explore avenues to legally reside and work in countries offering such provisions.
The European Commission's call for the termination of these programs due to concerns over money laundering and corruption has cast a shadow of uncertainty. While some countries, like Cyprus, have already terminated their Golden Visa Programs, others continue to operate, albeit under heightened scrutiny.
Ireland, responding to the changing landscape, announced in February of this year that its Investor Visa Program would no longer be available for applicants. Similarly, Portugal, in light of a housing crisis, declared the discontinuation of two routes for acquiring residency through its Golden Visa Program.
These shifts have prompted foreign investors, notably those from the United States, to explore opportunities in other European nations offering such schemes. While Spain's Golden Visa Program also faces uncertainty, a final decision is yet to be made.
As the backdrop of European visa programs remains complex and dynamic, prospective beneficiaries are exploring a diverse array of options to ensure their international mobility, with the digital nomad visa emerging as a favored alternative.
By fLEXI tEAM