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Spain Golden Visa

Introduction

The Spanish golden visa is similar to other popular European golden visas in that it grants residency to applicants and their families in exchange for a real estate investment. Officially known as the investor residence visa, this program offers Spanish residency on the basis of the purchase of property valued at a minimum of 500,000 €, among other investment methods. Investor residents can live and work in Spain and travel visa-free within Europe’s Schengen Zone[1] and, unlike many other international programs, the Spanish golden visa does not require residency in the country.

Like under the Portuguese Golden Visa, investor applicants are able to include immediate, dependent family members on their application.[2] Approved applicants under this program will initially receive an investor residence visa valid for one year and can then transition to a renewable investor residence permit for an initial period of two years. After five years of residency (subject to residency requirements), investor residents are eligible to apply for permanent residency, and can apply for citizenship after 10 years. Once permanent residents, investors are free to sell their initial investment property should they so desire.

 

History and Statistics

The program was approved in 2013, following in the footsteps of similar such programs in neighboring European countries. Initial performance was disappointing—especially when compared to other similar programs in Europe—and the slow start prompted the Spanish government to tweak the program in 2015. Updates streamlined many administrative hurdles and sped up application procedures.[3]

 

Eligibility and Requirements[4]

In order to apply for the investor residence visa, applicants must be able to document a significant investment in the Spanish economy, either through various capital investment activities or through the purchase of real estate. Applicants can qualify for the investor residence visa with an initial investment of:

  • The purchase of real estate valued at 500,000 or more; or
  • Two million euros in Spanish public debt; or
  • One million euros in stock or shares of a Spanish company; or
  • One million euros in investment funds; or
  • One million euros in qualifying bank deposits; or
  • The creation of a qualifying business in Spain

In addition to executing the initial investment, applicants must be non-European and must be prepared to maintain their investment throughout the duration of their residency as an investor. The purchase can be made either as an individual or as the owner of a company.

Applicants must be over the age of 18, have a clean criminal record, have entered Spain legally, have adequate health insurance and be able to financially provide for themselves and their family while in Spain. There is no language requirement for the residency permit and investors do not need to visit or reside in Spain to maintain their status. Furthermore, investors do not need to occupy the property purchased in order to qualify for the permit, and may choose to rent it out for additional income.

 

Applying

In order to apply for the investor visa on the basis of property ownership, applicants must be prepared to document the purchase of property valued at 500,000 € with certification from their local Spanish land registry. If the purchase is still in progress, applicants can provide such documentation and proof of funds in escrow sufficient to cover the purchase price. In such a case, approved applicants would be granted residency for a maximum period of six months, to be extended upon the finalization of the property purchase.

Additionally, applicants will need to furnish proof that they meet the other requirements of the program as stipulated in the previous section. Applicants can submit their completed application in person, by appointment, or online through the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. All documents must be translated into Spanish.

The investor residence visa is valid for an initial period of one year and investors can then apply for the investor residence permit. In order to do so, investors must show that their investment was sustained throughout the duration of their initial investor visa. The investor residence permit is valid for an initial period of two years, and can be extended for successive five-year periods.

Applicants can include their dependent family members on their initial application, to include: spouse, dependent children (minors or older children that are dependent and unmarried), and in some cases, dependent parents. These derivative applicants hold the same rights and responsibilities as the investor applicant.

If investors and their dependents fulfill applicable residency requirements, they are eligible to apply for permanent residency after five years and citizenship after 10. However, investors and family members do not need to fulfill any residency requirements to continue to qualify for an investor residence permit.

Processing times

Investor residence visas are issued by the Diplomatic Missions and Consular Offices of Spain, and applicants must be notified of the outcome of their application within 10 working days, except in special circumstances. Decisions on residence permit applications must be made within 20 days, and permits can be granted on the grounds of administrative silence if no decision is issued within that period.

Applicants may choose to prepare the application and documentation on their own, or may find that it is easier to work with a Spanish professional to guide them.  Applicants are strongly recommended to seek out a qualified attorney familiar with the program prior to any property purchase. Furthermore, various full-service companies exist that can educate investors about the program, direct them to realtors and attorneys and guide them through the application process.

 

[1] Spanish residency provides visa-free travel access to the entire Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days within each six-month period.

[2] "The Spanish Golden Visa after the Amendment by the Second Chance Mechanism." Lexology. September 7, 2015. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9c1c790b-4e5c-43b2-8df8-a9ca3dfe3496.

[3] Molina, Carlos. "Los Visados Expres a Inversores Extranjeros Inyectan 2.173 Millones." CincoDias. October 2, 2015. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://cincodias.com/cincodias/2015/10/02/economia/1443790688_948170.html.

[4] Unless otherwise noted, all program details taken from "Act 14/2013, of 27 September." Portal De Inmigracion. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/UnidadGrandesEmpresas/documentos/2015/Ley_14-2013_consolidada_en_ingles.pdf.