NEARLY 530 foreign nationals from outside the EU have obtained a so-called ‘golden visa’ from Spain for buying property or investing in the country since it was launched 15 months ago.
And the requisites have now been made more flexible, extending to include unmarried partners, older dependants and children aged over 18.
Automatic residence and working rights in Spain are granted – even if the person does not live in the country – to any non-EU national who buys property at a minimum price of €500,000 net of taxes per unit, invests €2 million or more in buying public debt, or €1m or more in shares in companies, or who intends to spend similar sums in setting up businesses.
Between September 2013 and December last year – the most recent date for when figures were available – 490 non-Europeans have acquired a visa for Spain as a result of the scheme for having bought luxury property, and another 40 through investment, 29 of whom via share purchases and the rest from setting up companies.
Whilst the property purchasers have mainly tended to be Russian, Chinese or Arab, the investors have mostly been from the USA.
As a result, the country has acquired €700m in foreign investment since September 2013, creating around 12,000 jobs, although not all of them permanent.
The aim was to wipe out the paper trail and red tape involved in getting a visa to be able to invest or buy property in Spain by granting them automatically once a real intention has been established.
Certain changes have been made to the process to render it more flexible – for example, one applicant wanted to set up a company in a Spanish provincial capital city after finishing a master’s degree at a business school in the country, but was told that to do so would have to involve leaving the country after finishing the course, and restarting the application process from abroad; as a result of these restrictions, the company plan fell through and the investor set one up in the UK instead.
Now, the entire process can be commenced once already in Spain if the applicant has already settled there.
In addition to ‘golden visas’ given out for investment in Spain, another 82 have had them for setting up business ventures, 369 were for researchers, 907 were for overseas moves within the same company, 1,231 were for highly-qualified professionals and 2,461 were for family members of all the others.
Visas are granted for six months ahead of property purchases to allow the buyer time to complete the process and stay in the country while doing so, but this will be perpetually extended until the transaction is finished.
Anyone investing or setting up a business is given residence in Spain until they have completed all procedures involved, to avoid situations in past years – and in other countries – whereby a purchaser or investor had to leave the country because his or her visa had expired when the transaction was still ongoing.
Those who have been granted a ‘golden visa’ do not have to return to Spain to renew it, and they are now renewable every five years rather than every two.
Other European countries have a similar scheme in place, including the UK, Portugal and Cyprus.