Hungary’s Investment Immigration Program offers permanent residency to non-Europeans willing to invest in government bonds. The minimum required investment is €300,000 in special Hungarian government bonds, to be held for a minimum period of five years. After five years, investors are welcome to withdraw their funds and keep their residence status. Investors may choose to finance their investment for an additional fee.
Through the program, qualified investors are first granted temporary residence for themselves and their families and then permanent residence. Hungarian residence offers mobility within the European Union, and no stay in Hungary is required to acquire or maintain residency status. The program does not require business experience or language skills, making it an option for investors who prefer a passive investment.
History and Statistics
Hungary’s investment immigration program is available to Chinese investors through a uniquely authorized company called the Hungary Special State Debt Fund (HSSDF). The program was first introduced in 2013 at the Hungarian embassy in Beijing. Because the program only has one investment option, it is relatively simple compared to some other European programs. Though the program is open to all non-European applicants, the government’s promotion of the program is largely focused on Chinese investors, in line with other investment immigration programs worldwide. The entity authorized to accept investments from Chinese investors had application quotas of 1000 in 2013, 2000 in 2014 and 1700 in 2015. It is as of yet unclear how many investors have utilized the program to acquire Hungarian residency.
Eligibility and Requirements
In order to qualify for the program, interested investors must be non-European, have a clean criminal record, and be at least 18 years old. The whole family—investor, spouse and minor children—is included on one application and children must be under 18 as of the day the application is submitted. In addition to the above requirements, applicants must invest at least €300,000 in Hungarian government bonds for a period of five years. In practice, this is accomplished by subscribing to a share of the Hungary Special State Debt Fund, who then invests in government bonds on behalf of the investor. Funds do not bear interest and are returned after a lock up period of five years.
Investors can make the full investment with their own capital, or may finance their investment through a bank or institution with fees of €135,000 or €150,000, respectively. Applicants are not required to provide extensive documentation as to the source of funds they are investing.
Approved applicants will be issued temporary residence valid for five years, but may transition to permanent residence after six months. The return of investment capital after five years will not affect the investor’s residence status.
The Hungary State Special Debt Fund (HSSDF) was established as the sole authority able to accept investments from Chinese and Vietnamese investors and purchase Hungarian government bonds on their behalf. As such, all Chinese investors must invest through this company and will work with local migration agents authorized by the company. A list of Chinese agents authorized to promote the program is available on the HSSDF website.
The first step of the residency-through-investment process is for applicants to subscribe and transfer funds to the HSSDF. For this first process, investors will need to provide evidence of their bank transfer of €300,000, signed PPM and subscription agreement, proof of their permanent address, and evidence of a clean criminal record. Additionally, investors will enter into a formal agreement with their immigration advisor and a Hungarian attorney. Investors are required to pay a fee of €45,000 for immigration agent advisory services. The Fund will respond to investor subscriptions within 10 days of fund transfer; if investors are rejected, they will receive a refund of their capital.
Once approved by the Fund, successful investors will be issued a certificate of shares and move on to the residency permit application process. This process is undertaken with the assistance of migration agents, and investors and their family members will need to provide valid passports, a €60 processing fee per person above age 6, proof of investment and power of attorney to a Hungarian lawyer, among other biographical information. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview at a Hungarian embassy. Once approved, HSSDF will purchase government bonds on behalf of the investor in the required amount. If rejected, the investor will be refunded their capital.
After holding temporary residence for six months, investors can apply for permanent residence. This third process requires an application fee of approximately €35, evidence of a clean criminal record, documentation of familial relationships and proof of a deposit of at least €30,000 in a Hungarian bank. Immigration Hungary, the agency in charge of processing applications, lists their processing time as approximately three months. If approved, investors and their families will receive permanent residency in Hungary.
Certified translations of all documents—into Hungarian or English—must be provided.
Chinese investors must work with authorized migration agents and make their investment through the Hungary Special State Debt Fund in order to participate in the program. Applicants are strongly recommended to establish a close connection with an authorized agent of the program who can provide more details on the investment and the application process before making any investment decisions.
 Unless otherwise noted, all program information taken from: Hungary State Special Debt Fund. Accessed February 22, 2016. http://immigration-hungary.com/EN/.
 “The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program.” Hungary Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Accessed February 22, 2016. http://www.mfa.gov.hu/NR/rdonlyres/1A5BB49E-75C4-429D-A6E0-0D3E753838BC/0/program_overview_EN.pdf.
 “About Us.” Hungary State Special Debt Fund. Accessed February 22, 2016. http://immigration-hungary.com/EN/aboutus/proginfo.html.
 See note 2.