SPAIN’S golden visa, long under threat from abolitionists, might yet live on but in a more restricted form.
Introduced in 2013 in the wake of the housing crash and Euro crisis, the golden visa was intended as a means to re-inflate the housing market through foreign investment.
However, the scheme has been criticised for creating inflationary pressures and has come under scrutiny for being a back door for dirty money into the Spanish economy.
Sources indicate that the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration are mulling over two possible routes to rein in the golden visas.
One option is to bring the minimum real estate investment threshold closer to at least €1 million.
The other it is also considering is to encourage investment in less-populated areas or in socially beneficial projects.
Critics have argued that this would only benefit the wealthy and would not solve the problem of pressure on the housing market.
Currently, the scheme allows foreigners to obtain a three-year residence permit, extendable for another two, by investing at least €500,000 in real estate in Spain, excluding any charges or mortgages.
The mechanism also applies to investments of more than €1 million in deposits or shares of Spanish capital companies, or more than €2 million in government bonds.
Highly skilled professionals and family reunification cases are also eligible for this residency permit.
However, the use of the investment residential clause accounts for over 94% of the permits granted to foreign investors.
Sources familiar with Social Security’s analysis believe that the limit of €500,000 for a real estate investment to obtain residency is now insufficient, particularly in major cities, where a property of this value is longer considered luxurious.
In 2022, Spain granted 2,462 residency permits to investors who bought properties worth more than €500,000, an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year.
Investors who used other routes, such as buying public debt, investing in companies, or deposits over €1 million, accounted for just a few permits.
Last year, only six foreigners were granted residency permits for investing in Spanish government debt.
The Spanish government has granted a total of 11,464 individual authorisations since the golden visa was introduced, in addition to 19,805 authorisations for family reunification.
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