Greece Golden Visa Program

A “Golden Visa” is an immigration program that allows individuals to get a residence permit or citizenship in another country by making an investment or donation in that country. The article discusses the Greek Golden Visa, its features, benefits, terms, conditions and application process.

The Greek Golden Visa Program

The Greek Golden Visa Program is considered to be one of the most affordable residence-through-investment programs in Europe. Introduced in 2013, the program offers citizens of non-European countries an opportunity to obtain a five-year residence permit in Greece by making an investment of at least EUR 250,000 in real estate purchase.

Previously, an individual applying for a residence permit in this way was required to have a legal entry and/or stay admission (VISA), before applying for the residence permit. However, a recent amendment to the Greek Immigration and Social Inclusion Code removed this requirement. Based on the new law, non-European citizens can apply for a residence permit in Greece without actually entering Greece. This can be achieved by simply appointing a proxy to submit the relevant application in their name.

Once the application is approved and the residence permit of Greece is acquired, the permit holder can stay continuously in Greece, as long as the property remains in his ownership.

Features and Benefits of the Greek Golden Visa Program

The Greek Golden Visa provides the following benefits:

1) Right to live in Greece
 
  • As discussed above, a non-European citizen with a residence permit can stay in Greece continuously, as long as the property remains in his ownership. The residence permit is valid for a period of 5 years and therefore requires renewal for a new term of stay every 5 years, subject to certain conditions.
  • A permit holder is under no compulsion of staying in Greece. Therefore, he can continue owning the property he has invested in and enjoy the benefits that come with the residence permit, even while staying outside Greece.
  • The investment property can even be rented out by the permit holder.
 
2)  Visa-Free Travel
 
  • The Greek Golden Visa gives the non-European citizens the freedom to travel to European Schengen countries without the need for an additional visa. The European Schengen countries are a group of 26 countries that have abolished all passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders.
  • The travel duration to such Schengen countries can be up to three months within a six-month period with the privilege of multiple entries.
 
3) Family
 
  • The program allows the residence permit holders to include their spouse or partner to a civil partnership agreement.
  • Unwed children of the spouses or partners, below the age of 21 and under shared custody can also be included under the program. This includes children that have been adopted.
  • In addition, the program includes the applicant’s or his/her spouse’s or partner’s other unwed children, who are under the age of 21, including children who have been adopted. This is subject to the condition that the applicant or his/her spouse or partner is their legal guardian.
  • The program also offers an ‘extended family benefit’ under which the principal applicant’s parents and parents-in-law can be included in the program.
  • These family members are eligible to enjoy all the benefits offered by the Greek Golden Visa.
 
4) Investment Opportunity with Low Investment Threshold
 
  • The Greek Golden Visa Program has the lowest investment threshold of all the Golden Visa Programs in Europe.
  • With the Greek economy bouncing back from a 10-year recession, its Golden Visa Program is an investment opportunity providing a fast and reliable return on investment (ROE).
 
5) Permanent Citizenship
 
  • A permit holder is eligible for the permanent citizenship of Greece after a minimum stay of seven years and subject to fulfilment of other conditions.
Eligibility Criteria for the Greek Golden Visa Program:

To be eligible to apply for the Greek Golden Visa Program, an applicant must:
  • be a citizen of a non-European country;
  • be above 18 years of age;
  • make a significant investment in the real estate or other strategic investments;
  • have a medical insurance in Greece for himself and the family members;
  • have a clear criminal record.
Application Process

With the recent amendment to the immigration law in Greece, a prospective residence permit holder can apply for a resident permit remotely, without being obliged to enter Greece. To achieve this:
  • The applicants can appoint from their own country a proxy to submit the relevant application in their name. The relevant power of attorney is executed before a Greek consular authority in the applicant’s home country. The application is then submitted by the proxy to the competent Greek authorities.
  • Before the purchase of property, a tax identification number (TIN) must be issued in the name of the purchaser with the assistance of his representative. The TIN is indispensable in opening a bank account, purchasing the property and legally registering it with the competent Land registry/Cadastre. All property owners are compelled by law to have due fiscal representation.
  • As part of the purchase of property, the applicant must acquire the promissory sale and purchase agreement and the execution of a public deed.
  • The applicant is required to pay an application fee of EUR 2,000 along with the formal application.
  • Upon successful submission of the application, the Greek authorities issue a confirmation that the application has been submitted. This confirmation is valid for a period of 12 months, within which, the applicant must enter Greece, under a legal visa, and submit to the competent Greek authority their biometric data as required by law.
Other Basis of Applying for the Greek Golden Visa Program

Besides buying a property in Greece, non-European citizens can obtain the residence permit under the Greek Golden Visa by:
  • Entering into long-term contracts for the lease (or time share via lease) of complex hotel establishments and tourist accommodations, the total consideration for which is at least EUR 250,000. Such leases are granted for 10 years and are renewable for an equal term, under the same conditions.
  • Investing a minimum of EUR 400,000 mainly by:
-  Way of contributions to the share capital of specific legal entities having their registered office or establishment in Greece
-  Purchasing Greek State Bonds
-  Purchasing shares in mutual funds created in Greece (or other country) for specific purposes designated in law. 

Terms and Conditions

The acceptance of an application for the Golden Visa Program is subject to the following terms and conditions:

1. For Purchase of Property

  • The value of the property being owned or bought must be at least EUR 250,000 at the time of acquisition.
  • In case of joint ownership of a property with a value of EUR 250,000, the residence permit is granted only when the owners are spouses or partners to a civil partnership agreement, with undivided ownership of the property.
  • In all other cases of joint ownership, the residence permit is only granted to the co-owner whose share in the common property is worth at least EUR 250,000.
  • In case, the property in Greece is held through a legal entity which is seated either in Greece or in any other European Union member state then the sole shareholder of the entity is entitled to apply for the residence permit.
  • The residence permit does not grant a right to employment in Greece.


2. For Lease of a Hospitality Accommodation:

  • The lease must cover a minimum period of 10 years and EUR 250,000 in rental amount.
  • The lease must stipulate for a single payment of the rent for the equivalent of the ten-year leasing of the property.


Renewal of the Greek Golden Visa

The residence permit is issued for a period of 5 years & it requires a renewal every 5-years.