From time to time, governments will open up their residency programmes with the main condition being that the people who apply have to invest in their countries. This is the type of arrangement you get with Malta’s and Spain’s Golden Visas.
Understanding the Spain and Malta Golden Visa Programmes
The Malta and Spain Golden Visa programmes allow individuals and their loved ones, known as beneficiaries, to acquire residency in these countries. These applicants are investors who are attracted to investments or other factors in these countries.
In exchange, these individuals have to invest in both countries. While these programmes are very similar, there are some differences between the two that we will be covering below.
The Maltese programme that offers these visas is known as the Malta Permanent Residency Programme. This is different from the Malta Citizenship by Direct investment programme which has its own requirements and conditions.
The Malta Golden visa programme is a residency-by-investment programme which mandates that applicants invest in property and provide government contributions. The Spanish Golden visa is also provided to investors and rich individuals who would like to have residency in the country but cannot become citizens until they meet several requirements.
The differences between the two programmes start to show up here as the Maltese programme requires a property investment of at least €350,000 for properties located in Malta. Investors can opt for a €300,000 investment in properties located in Gozo or southern Malta. If renting, the rent must be at least $12,000 annually in Gozo or at least €10,000 in South Malta or Gozo.
For the Spanish programme, investors must have a real estate investment of at least €500,000. They might optionally transfer at least a million Euros into Spain or start a business in the country. Investors can also buy shares for the same amount in a Spanish company or contribute at least €2,000,000 to the public debt.
There are additional donation requirements for the Malta programme including government contributions and donations to local NGOs. The government contributions amount is determined by whether you are renting or buying property as part of your investment.
Another key difference between the two is the beneficiaries you can add to the programme. With the Spain Golden Visa, you can add eligible parents, a spouse and children to the application.
The Maltese programme has more leeway as it also allows you to include your grandparents in addition to your spouse and kids in your application. You can also add your spouse’s grandparents and parents if they are eligible.
Both Malta and Spain allow you to convert your residency and citizenship. Malta requires that applicants have held a golden visa for at least five years to be eligible for citizenship. They also have to meet other requirements which are out of the scope of this discussion.
The Spanish programme is a ten-year investment programme which means you only get citizenship after being a permanent resident for 10 years. The Spanish Golden Visa has become unpopular over the past few years because of this. Many people who do not have plans to eventually become Spanish Citizens opt for other programmes such as the Malta Golden Visa as they can get citizenship faster.
If you do wish to become a Maltese citizen faster, you can opt for a citizenship by investment programme. The investment requirements are a lot more stringent than those of the Golden Visa, but you can get citizenship in 12 to 36 months. You must also reside in the country permanently for this period before getting citizenship.
Relocation and Work
Applicants who successfully get a Malta or Spain Golden Visa can work in either country. Those who are accepted into the Maltese programme can work anywhere they like in the EU, but they would need a work visa for that. Those accepted into the Spanish programme can work in Spain legally.
Both Golden Visas allow travel through the Schengen region without a visa, but some countries have different requirements for work and relocation and you need to check this before you plan on moving to or travelling through these countries.
The Malta and Spain Golden Visas provide non-EU residents with the opportunity to live and work in a European country by investing in the countries and meeting various conditions. These programmes are very similar but have subtle differences you should be aware of.