What are the European and UAE Golden Visa programs?

What are the European and UAE Golden Visa programs?
Published on: 21 August 2021

The “Golden Visa” meaning tends to be clear to anyone who has spent considerable time shopping around for a second residency. If you are in the market for residency in another country, you have almost certainly come across the term “golden visas.” Golden visas are essentially avenues through which foreigners can achieve residency in another country. “Golden visa” is therefore a generic term for a kind of visa that is granted by “golden visa countries” offering residency through investment, and for certain applicants who pursue it, a pathway to citizenship after a number of qualifying years. In this way, golden visas differ from traditional economic residency programs, which restrict individuals from obtaining citizenship post-residency. This page will present an overview of the European golden visa countries in 2021—i.e. the countries currently offering golden visa programs (these states are not to be confused with the “golden passport countries,” which offer economic citizenship schemes rather than residency). In addition to the European schemes, it will also highlight one of the most recent—yet fastest growing—residency programs in the world: the UAE Golden Visa. Having attracted interest from a diverse group of individuals (artists, extremely wealthy investors, and highly skilled professionals) the UAE Golden Visa has emerged as one of the most innovative and exciting programs on the market.

As well as learning about the UAE and European schemes (including the cheapest golden visa program currently available), readers of this blog will also come away with a general idea of how golden immigration works, while discovering some of the most popular investment schemes available (such as golden visa property investment). But first, let’s begin with some essential golden visa terminology:

The Golden Visa Meaning and Terminology

  • Golden visas—Visas through which a holder obtains long-term residency in a country in exchange for making a financial investment (in said country), that ultimately can lead to citizenship.
  • Golden visa program—Also sometimes known as a Residency by Investment program (RBI), the golden visa program is a scheme through which a country offers visas for residency (golden visas) in exchange for making a financial investment (in that country)
  • Golden immigration—When a foreigner receives residency in a country as a result of successfully applying for a golden visa (i.e. by making a financial investment in the country). Ultimately, having successfully received residency, that same foreigner could potentially pursue citizenship
  • Golden visa countries—States that have golden visa programs—i.e. those which offer residency (which can ultimately lead to citizenship) to foreigners in exchange for a financial investment in the country
  • Golden passport countries—Not to be confused with the above “golden visa countries,” “golden passport countries” are states offering programs through which you can obtain a passport (rather than initially residency) in exchange for a financial investment
  • Golden citizenship—The process by which a foreigner receives citizenship and a passport in a country by participating (financially investing) in its CBI (Citizenship by Investment) program. As you can see, golden citizenship is offered by country’s CBI program and is therefore not quite the same thing as a golden visa, through which a successful applicant initially receives residency and not necessarily citizenship. However, eligible individuals who obtain residency through the European golden visa programs or via one of the other extant golden visa schemes may ultimately pursue citizenship after a certain number of years, provided they meet the program’s various conditions.

How do golden visas work?

  • Different golden visa countries have different golden visa programs (and different golden visa requirements). However, in general, the process can be understood to work like this: a foreigner who wants residency makes a financial investment through a country’s Residency by Investment Program (the amount of investment needed varies by country). In exchange for this investment, the applicant receives residency in the country. The length of that residency will also vary depending on the country; some states offer residency for up to five years, while others offer more long-term options (10 or even twenty years).
  • Some countries allow foreigners to pursue a golden visa by (financial) real estate investment. In this scenario, an applicant for residency would purchase pre-selected real-estate in a country (in addition, they would be required to retain ownership over the property they retained for a specific amount of time). In exchange, the applicant would obtain a form of long-term residency in that country.
  • In addition to submitting numerous biographical and financial documents, all investors in global golden visa programs must go through an application process that involves due diligence and a criminal background check. The purpose of these checks is twofold. One, they ensure that the applicant can afford all of the costs associated with their golden visa purchase. Two, by running a criminal/security check on the applicant, the RBI program makes sure that he or she will be a positive addition to the country they seek residency from (i.e. will not commit crimes, terrorism, or fraud once they achieve residency). Applicants with a history of criminality or other undesirable backgrounds will likely be rejected for the golden visa they are pursuing, even if they can afford it.
  • An applicant who successfully emerges from the above golden immigration application process will immediately receive residency. After holding that residency for several years and meeting certain obligations (the exact number varies—as do the specific financial/personal conditions for citizenship—depending on the golden visa country) a resident can apply for citizenship.

The UAE Golden Visa

  • The latest to join a crowded field of economic residency schemes, the UAE Golden Visa has nevertheless emerged as an essential and quite popular program, which has attracted an enormous amount of interest in its short time on the market.
  • The program continues to draw a diverse group of people with attributes ranging from extreme wealth to specialized skills. High-net worth investors, entrepreneurs, artists, engineers, and doctors; these are just some of the unique and exceptional categories of persons who are bringing their talents and expertise to the UAE through its Golden Visa scheme.
  • The UAE is the only Gulf country that offers a 10-year economic residency through a Golden Visa program. The bold and creative initiative is unique for rewarding affluent investors as well as those who enrich UAE society in non-monetary (but no less essential) ways. The latter group of Golden Visa candidates are eligible for the program by virtue of the critical services they provide to the community and/or their wealth of specialized knowledge and undeniably positive cultural contributions to the UAE economy and society.
  • The UAE Golden Visa program is open to these and other types of outstanding applicants; those who are eligible can receive a 10-year residency visa. The UAE Golden Visa requirements vary depending on what category the applicant falls into; those who are applying as investors must have made certain financial investments in the country. In contrast, applicants who believe they are eligible for the program due to their unique skillset/cultural contributions to the UAE (rather than their net worth) must meet other requirements that reflect their achievements.
  • For more information about the UAE Golden Visa program, and for detailed guidance on how to achieve golden residency through the scheme, please visit the government official website.

European Golden Visa Countries 2021

  • The following list provides an overview of the European golden visa countries available to foreign investors:
    • Bulgaria
    • Cyprus
    • Greece
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Latvia
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • The Netherlands
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • United Kingdom
  • The above golden visa countries are therefore the states you can invest in to achieve long term residency. There are numerous advantages to receiving residency in another country. First, and most obviously, golden visas provide a way for non-citizens to live, work, and study in a country that they otherwise would only be able to visit for short periods. RBI investors therefore can take advantage of all the lifestyle benefits respective to their golden visa country (there are numerous financial, educational, and health and wellness advantages to achieving residency in another country). For many applicants, achieving residency through a country’s RBI program is the first step toward ultimately receiving citizenship and a passport from that country down the road.
  • The prices for European golden visa programs vary. The cheapest golden visa programs start at €250,000 EUR; other golden visa countries offer schemes that cost as much as €2,300,000 EUR.
  • As you can see from above, there are a number of different countries which offer the golden visa program. Not all golden visa programs are right for all applicants; golden immigration and visa consultants like Guide Consultants, a leader in the golden immigration field, can help you decide which program is right for you.

If you are interested in one of the European golden visa programs mentioned above, or you have a general interest in pursuing golden immigration and visa consultants, contact us here.

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