“Do I get four Golden Visas for this?” jokes Yili Chen as estate agent Nuno Durao shows him round a 2m euro ($2.8m) apartment in the seaside town of Cascais. The 28-year-old, who prefers to be called Li, is from Shenzhen in southern China. He has been lured to Portugal by its Golden Residence Permit programme.
It gives foreign investors who spend 500,000 euros on a property here the right to live in Portugal. They are also free to travel around all the EU countries in the Schengen area and after six years they can apply for Portuguese citizenship. Each country is trying to outdo the other in terms of better conditions to attract all this foreign money. Ana Gomes, Socialist MEP.. TLi, who got married last year, wants to send his children to European universities. He is also concerned about what the financial future may hold for China, so he is looking to invest in Europe.
Since the residence scheme began in 2012, the Portuguese government says it has issued 734 so-called “Golden Visas” and that’s generated more than 440m euros. Not all of that has come from property sales though, because foreign investors can also get a Golden Visa by investing a million euros in capital or creating 10 jobs in Portugal. The vast majority of the people signing up – 578 of them – have come from China. The people that are coming are investing in Portugal. The Chinese love European brands. They buy vineyards, pig farms. All this helps Portugal a lot. Nuno Durao, Estate agent Brian Tang, from Hong Kong, got a Golden Visa last year. He says demand is so high in China, that he’s opened a branch of his immigration agency CBIEC, in Lisbon, to put people like Li in touch with Portuguese estate agents.“There’s a huge appetite from China coming over to Portugal. Eighty per cent of the applicants are Chinese,” says Brian Tang. He says part of the appeal is the flexibility. Foreigners only have to be in Portugal for seven days in the first year of residency.
You cannot put all your eggs in the same bucket. So we try to put something in Europe and this is a very good opportunity. We can earn some money and also get the visa.”
Lower price tags
Foreign investor residence schemes have long existed in the UK and other parts of the world. But Europe’s new wave has lower price tags. In Portugal and Spain investors have a minimum spend of 500,000 euros on a property to get a permit, in Cyprus it is 300,000 euros, and in Greece it is 250,000 euros. In Cascais, as we watch the boats sail by, Nuno Durao from the property firm Fine & Country, tells me Golden Visas have saved the real estate industry here, and everyone benefits. “The people that are coming are investing in Portugal. The Chinese love European brands. They buy vineyards, pig farms. All this helps Portugal a lot.”
Citizenship By Investment Increases Domestic GDP
Malta offers the “natural choice” of citizenship for people wishing to form part of an exciting project, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said of the country’s passport sale scheme. He was speaking at a forum on residence and citizenship planning, held in Zurich and organised by Henley & Partners, the concessionaires of the Individual Investment Programme.
“Malta has a vibrant economy that offers work and a high quality of life to its citizens,” Muscat said. “We are therefore using our citizenship programme to attract the best talent to continue making our country a success story on a global level. This is why Malta’s citizenship programme is so strict, exclusive, and expensive.” The concessionaires oblige the Maltese government to provide its top brass to promote the IIP. This is the fifth time that Muscat himself has addressed Henley conferences: he has previously addressed audiences in London, New York, Miami and Singapore in which he advocated Malta’s Individual Investor Programme as a way of “attracting talent”. Muscat told investors at the forum that Malta’s economic roadmap is leading to positive results. He pointed out that the European Commission has recently forecast Malta’s GDP to grow by 3.6% this year and its economy to keep performing strongly over the next two years.He referred to the Shanghai Electric Power’s purchase of a 33% stake in Enemalta, the government’s agreements with Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry to open a medical campus in Gozo, its agreement with Italian investors to open a new private hospital in Smart City, and yesterday’s agreement to construct a private university in Malta. “Other alternatives exist for people who want to buy citizenships quickly and on the cheap, but Malta is the natural choice for people who want to form part of an exciting project and a country with a good reputation.”