The Greek government is looking to make exciting changes to its ‘golden visa’ programme, allowing investors to obtain full Greek citizenship after seven years.
A bill scheduled to go through parliament could allow non-EU buyers to aquire full citizenship in Greece. Currently, the investment for residency programme (or ‘golden visa’) in the country grants renewable five-year residency permits to non-EU investors who buy property worth more than €250,000. This means they can live in Greece for as long as they own the property.
Under the new scheme, participants will have the option of full citizenship after seven years – meaning the new passport-holders gain all the advantages of the EU. This should make Greece a more attractive prospect to Chinese and Russian investors in particular. The Greek government has also been promoting its visa scheme in the Middle East. ”If approved by parliament, I think it’s a positive move by the Greeks,” Vas Agridhiotis of Greek property specialist RDC told OPP Connect.
“It will certainly make Greece even more attractive to non-EU nationals. And remember it’s not simply purchasing citizenship. Whilst the program requires a monetary investment, it also demands seven years of residency in Greece by prospective applicants – demonstrating a long-term commitment to the country. It has benefits all round.”
The bill will be tabled in parliament in coming weeks and could come into effect by the end of the year, adds Mr Agridhiotis.
“If approved by Greek parliament, the amended program, will also be extended to provide residency for the parents of investors. Until now, non-EU property investors in Greece have only been able to obtain residency for spouses and children under 21,” he says.
“Another proposed change to the policy is that a residency permit becomes transferable to a new (non-EU) owner if a property is sold within the five-year residency period, something that is not allowed under existing legislation.”
Will the move go down well with the Greek public? “The Greeks are naturally welcoming and hospitable people – like in all countries, as long as immigrants contribute positively to the country, then there’s no reason to object. In fact there are current initiatives that have been established to assist and welcome foreign nationals to Greece – such foreign language schooling and cultural centres.”
According to Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini, Angelos Syrigos, General Secretary for Population and Social Cohesion at the Ministry of the Interior, says that the initiative is part of a Greek government plan to make property investment in Greece even more attractive.
The Greek ‘golden visa’ is one of the cheapest in Europe, costing half as much as in Spain or Portugal.
“The Greek real estate market will naturally welcome any move that provides foreign investment into real estate in Greece,” concludes Mr Agridhiotis. ”The proposed amended residence program should not only benefit the residential market, but should also boost investment into large scale tourism and infrastructure projects, that can only benefit Greece long term. Greece is already seeing good take up of the existing residence program from Russia, China and Egypt.”
To find out more contact RDCgr at [email protected]
By Francine Carrel, international property reporter, OPP