Having a Golden Visa is a golden opportunity for many people, especially investors, entrepreneurs, startups, and professionals who want to have a Plan B for the future. Practically, this means that in case where economic and/or political turmoil takes over their homeland, successful applicants, including their qualifying family members, are secured knowing they have a second country to call home.
At the moment, there are various countries that offers so-called Golden Visas, and it is important to differentiate the rotten apples from the good ones.
First and foremost, a residency-by-investment a.k.a Golden Visa is a resident visa. It’s not a passport. It’s not a travel document to go to Canada. It’s not a Permanent Residency.
This being said, even though Spain and Philippines have a close-knit history, Spain do not have a Citizenship-By-Investment program and therefore does not grant its passport in exchange of an investment.
The Spanish Golden Visa can be secured through a designated investment into real estate and will grant you (and qualifying family members) the right to reside in Spain and potentially work. The full benefits such as healthcare, education, and social benefits are available once you become a Permanent Resident of Spain – typically after 5 years – or 2 years in case of Filipino citizens – and not as a resident only. Essentially, this means that you cannot use the Spanish Golden Visa to send your children study in Portugal or in the UK without study permit and benefit from the fees of a local.
Harvey Law Group (HLG) Philippines, who has been operating for 3 years now, disclosed that they had several cases of clients and their family who were misled and misrepresented by agents promising full citizenship and passports, while in reality, they were investing in a residency visa. After securing the investment through real estate, the agents either disappeared with a significant portion of its fees paid, or simply blamed its client of a lack of proper due diligence.
It’s important to do your research and your homework when securing a Golden Visa, but it is even more accurate when significant amount of money is into play as well as an immigration status for you and your family. Misrepresentation and immigration fraud typically result in severe fines, jail time and/or formal banned to apply again.
If you’re currently looking into the Spanish Golden Visa, here are the key things you should know to avoid getting into a scam.
Keep in mind that a residency, permanent residency, and citizenship are 3 different things. Each country that is offering a Residency or Permanent Residency-By-Investment Program has different advantages and benefits. If you’re getting a golden visa in Spain, here are the key benefits:
- Spain is a member of the European Union and Schengen. This allows the investor to travel freely within the vast majority of European countries (Schengen area).
- Fast track for foreign investors from non-EU countries to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Spain (“Golden Visa”).
- Non-EU citizens simply need to carry out one of the investments to qualify to obtain a residency permit. This residency permit allows the investor and dependents to enter, live, and work in Spain.
- The Spanish property market offers considerable potential for capital gains in the coming years.
There is no residency requirement and children under 18 years and dependent parents can be included in the golden visa application.
- Successful applicants are eligible for permanent residency after 5 years of actual residence.
- Successful applicants are eligible to apply for citizenship after 10 years of actual residence.
Learning about the minimum investment for each golden visa program is important. This way, if you come across an individual offering the same for so low, you can walk away from a potential scam.
- The minimum investment in property is €500,000.
- Applicants can purchase one or multiple properties and it can be a mix of residential or commercial.
- Joint buyers can combine investments into one property (minimum of €500,000 each).
- At least €500,000 of the investment must be from the investors’ own funds and it must be free of all charges such as a mortgage.
- The investment can be made through a majority-owned company.
- Spanish Golden Visa applicants must purchase qualifying property before application.
Countries with Residency or Permanent Residency-By-Investment Programs have different requirements, here are the ones for the Spanish Golden Visa.
- Investors must be at least 18 years old and a non-European Union citizen.
- Applicants must be in excellent health and have private healthcare.
- Applicants must have no criminal record, this includes not residing in Spain illegally.
- Without including any working income, applicants must have sufficient funds to live in Spain.
When you’re applying for any golden visa program, you need to study and understand the whole application process. If the process seems too short and too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam. Here are the key process points to remember:
- Applicants must visit Spain to select the property and complete legal documentation process.
- The police will confirm within 1 week if there are any objections to the application.
- Applicants must complete the property purchase before applying for the golden visa.
- Spanish Golden Visa application can be made in Spain or at a Spanish Consulate.
- Application is usually processed within 20 days.
- The successful applicant will be given an initial visa provided for 1 year.
- The visa can be renewed every two years thereafter providing the investment conditions are maintained.
- The applicant can apply for permanent residence, subject to the applicant having lived in Spain for a minimum of 5 years.
- The applicant can apply for citizenship, subject to the applicant having lived in Spain for a minimum of 10 years, being able to speak Spanish, and having a close connection to Spain.
- Applicants from former Spanish colonies such as the Philippines, Andorra, and Portugal, and descendants of Sephardic Jews can apply for citizenship after 2 years of continuous residence in Spain.
Do Your Homework
As more and more are looking to secure golden visas, it’s important to protect yourself from enterprising individuals who turn these golden opportunities into scams. Apart from learning the legal requirements and application process, it’s important to work with a reputable, multinational law firm that specializes in investment immigration. If you’re ready to get started on the process, contact your Harvey Law Group representative:
Mr. Samuel Harvey
Harvey Law Group
Edits: Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla
About Harvey Law Group
HLG is a leading multinational law firm specializing in corporate law and investment immigration with a worldwide reputation for representing high-profile clients and corporations, with over 19 offices worldwide. As the top immigration law firm, HLG offers the most comprehensive residency and citizenship programs available to date. HLG was awarded for Immigration Law Firm of the Year at the 13th and 16th annual Macallan ALB Hong Kong Law Awards 2014 and 2017.