9 Countries Offering Golden Visa Programs

Many countries around the world offer Golden Visa programs. These permit investors and their family members to get permanent residency in a country, which often opens up citizenship pathways.

These programs allow for a variety of investment options, including real estate acquisition, fund subscription, capital transfer, and donation.

1. United States

Immigration can be a lengthy and complex process, but for the wealthy, there’s a faster, streamlined route. “Golden visa” programs—also known as residency-by-investment programs—give high-net-worth individuals and their families permanent residency rights in exchange for a significant investment into the host country.

Typically, these investments are made in real estate, which provides investors with the opportunity to gain rental income and capital appreciation. However, the nature of the investment varies by country.

Despite their popularity, golden visa programs have been met with criticism. Some governments have even canceled or reconfigured their programs, especially with increased global tensions. It’s important to carefully research a country’s program requirements before making any kind of investment.

2. Germany

The German golden visa program invites foreign investors and entrepreneurs to contribute to the country’s economic landscape in exchange for a residence permit. Unlike other investment-based visa programs that focus on buying real estate, this program offers several other options for achieving permanent residency and citizenship, such as setting up a business or making a donation to Germany’s cultural and natural heritage.

As with all golden visa programs, the minimum required investment differs between countries.  Nonetheless, investors can choose from some of Europe’s most captivating cities to settle down in long-term and enjoy the benefits of living abroad, including access to top-rated schools, healthcare systems, and affordable private health insurance rates. Moreover, most countries that offer golden visas allow holders to travel around the Schengen area freely. This way, they can visit relatives in other European nations and experience the unique beauty of the continent. This type of freedom also makes it easier for families to maintain a close bond.

3. Netherlands

Golden Visa programs have gained in popularity over the last few years and many EU countries offer this type of investment option for wealthy individuals. While the Netherlands offers an attractive investment scheme with minimal requirements and the potential for permanent residency leading to citizenship after five years of residence, it’s essential to differentiate between each country’s specific offerings. For those particularly interested in Portugal’s golden visa program, renowned for its own set of benefits and requirements, you can explore Portugal’s program here.

Investors get the right to live in a top-ranked European country with high standards of living, and they have access to excellent education and healthcare systems. Additionally, most of the countries that offer golden visas are very safe and rank highly on official indexes.

While a wide range of investment options can be found in these programs, real estate is the most common one. This has led to some of these programs receiving heavy criticism for fueling property prices and enabling oligarchs to buy their way into Europe. Some of the criticisms include alleged money laundering and tax evasion.

4. Greece

Greece is one of the most popular EU countries for Golden Visa programs. The program is open to anyone who invests in the country and can apply for citizenship after seven years of residency. Moreover, the minimum investment is much lower than in other countries, making Greece an attractive option for investors.

The country launched its golden visa program during the financial crisis, and it was designed to bring in money to help stimulate the economy. Since then, it has been successful in attracting foreign investment.

In 2022, Greece received double the number of applications for its golden visa compared to 2021. The increase is likely due to growing awareness of the program and also a reduction in the availability of other options such as the UK and Ireland, which recently closed their programs.

Applicants can invest in several types of assets, including real estate and government bonds, to qualify for the Greek visa. However, it is usually best to visit the country in person to choose the property or other investment you want to purchase. You can then assign a legal representative to act on your behalf for the property purchase and visa application.

5. Cyprus

Known as one of the quickest and most straightforward investment schemes in Europe, Cyprus’ Golden Visa program offers investors permanent residency. Investors can invest in newly constructed residential property or non-residential properties, with the option to split their investment across a maximum of two properties.

The benefits of the Cyprus investor immigration scheme are far-reaching, from a world-class infrastructure to a highly competitive business environment with low taxes and international taxation agreements. The country also boasts a high quality of life, excellent education systems and healthcare services, and no inheritance tax.

Unlike other European golden visa programs, those who procure a Cyprus permanent residence permit can apply for citizenship after seven years of holding the status. However, in light of the recent leaked documents from the audit service that highlighted issues within the program, the Ministry of Interior has committed to enforce stricter controls. This will include requiring annual data submissions from beneficiaries.

6. Hong Kong

Golden Visa programs are popular with high-net-worth individuals who want to relocate to another country for taxation purposes, retirement, business relocation, or simply to experience a different lifestyle. The requirements vary from one country to the next but generally include a significant investment, a minimum stay, and proof that you and your family can support yourself while living abroad.

In Europe, for example, Golden Visas allow you and your family to live, work, and travel freely in the countries that offer the scheme. They also come with a host country’s public healthcare benefits, which can be useful if you have children who need access to quality education and care.

Although golden visa programs have been met with criticism by some governments and investors, they are increasingly popular among Chinese and Russian investors, whose money helps the economies of their home countries.

7. Singapore

A golden visa programme (also known as a residence by investment or citizenship through investments) is an immigration scheme offered by several countries that grants non-residents permanent residency in exchange for significant investments. Such a programme allows investors to gain access to the country’s lifestyle, business opportunities, healthcare and education systems, and economy while also providing their families with legal rights.

Launched in 2004, Singapore’s golden visa program is officially called the Global Investor Program (GIP). It invites foreign investors and their family members to secure permanent residency through substantial investments in the country, including real estate or GIP-approved funds.

Successful applicants and their families are granted permanent residency and enjoy a high quality of life in Singapore, from world-class healthcare and education to low crime rates. They also gain access to the country’s strategic business environment and global mobility. Moreover, the GIP also offers its holders Singapore citizenship after two years of residence.

8. Malta

As one of the best countries for golden visa programs, Malta is a top-rated option for high-net-worth individuals seeking European citizenship. The island country offers a safe and secure environment for business with low crime rates, strong banks, and a growing economy.

Malta’s program provides non-EU citizens with a path to permanent residency through real estate investment. Applicants can choose to invest in either purchasing or renting property, with minimum value thresholds based on location. Upon fulfilling the requirements of the program, investors can potentially transition to Malta citizenship in just 12-18 months.

Those applying for the program must pay an administrative fee and undergo a due diligence check. They also have to provide proof of their source of funds and provide biometric information for themselves and any family members included in the application.

Those who qualify can then enjoy the benefits of a Visa-Free travel to 187 destinations around the world. They can also gain access to the Maltese national healthcare system.

9. Moldova

Towards the end of 2018, Moldova launched one of Europe’s most exciting citizenship by investment programs. Sadly, due to shift in politics and EU pressure, the program has been suspended for new applications as of Jul 2019.

The MCBI offers an opportunity to acquire passports that grant visa-free access to 121 countries and territories including Russia, Turkey, and Schengen states. It also provides tax benefits and allows the applicant and his or her family to travel to Europe without restrictions.

In order to qualify, applicants must meet minimum financial requirements and undergo a thorough four-tier due diligence process. Additionally, the main applicant and his or her spouse must have a clean background, free of any criminal record, fraud, malpractice, and financial issues. The cost of a MCBI varies depending on the number of family members included in the application.