Attaining second citizenship, other than the one you own by birth, is getting quite popular these days. Not only wealthy asylum seekers but businessmen are also highly interested in it. Therefore, more and more countries are opening up citizenship programs to seek foreign investment and boost their economy. Greece citizenship by investment is one of such popular programs.
Citizenship by investment allows you to be a passport holder and citizen of another country as a consequence of your direct financial investment by following the criteria of residence provided by the said country.
Right now, the most favorite destination for citizenship by investment is Caribbean for its wonderful tax laws and discreet banking and economic and commercial opportunities offered due to inclusion in European Union.
Second Citizenship to an E.U Country
Passport of an EU member state is a gold standard document that allows you to move across the Europe and work anywhere with complete freedom and rights. This is the most powerful passport of the world. The basic criteria to judge the worth of passport is the number of countries that it allows you travel visa free. More visa free countries allowed means there are more number of banks around the globe that will likely do business with the passport holder.
Moreover, passport holder of an EU member state is free to work anywhere within the western geography of Europe for as long as they desire. In simple words, it means that Greek passport holders are free to work and live in quite strong economic centers like Germany, France or Belgium for the rest of their lives if they choose to.
Acquiring Greek Citizenship By Investment
The Greek passport is officially only issued to the Greek citizens or those who can prove their Greek lineage or to the foreigners who stayed in Greece for last ten years out of twelve. The alternative route to Greek citizenship is the offer of Greek government to stimulate investment in the country. The country offers residence permit on purchasing property in Greece with the minimum value of 250,000 Euro. Such residency permit is allotted for five years and is reapplied for another five years. The investor can keep the residence permit for as long as he/she owns that purchased property or buy another property of the same value.
The government of Greece claims that the residence card is valid to travel across the Western Europe and gives the card holder equivalent rights of living and working in the European Union. However, visa free traveling will still be subject to the original passport of the card holder and this is considered as a major cons of the program.
Acquiring A Greek Second Passport
The Greek government has unofficially realized that lot of investors would desire for citizenship and Greek passport in return to their investment. Hence, the country is now formulating its own Greece citizenship by investment program same as Cyprus and Malta. Meanwhile, there are some passports available for buyers who can pass through the correct channel.
The fast track program allows you to acquire the Greek citizenship and a passport in around 45 days. The minimum financial investment required is 95,000 Euro while you can acquire Greek driving license by additional investment of 10,000 Euro.
DETAILS OF INVESTMENT PROGRAM
The golden visa program in Greece provides you an opportunity to acquire permanent residence in Europe through affordable investment in real estate. The program was introduced in 2013 to motivate foreign investment in the country in order to combat the shrinking economy.
You need to invest €250,000 in the Greek real estate in order to get inclusion into the program. This is the lowest amount of investment scheme within the Europe. You can purchase that property in mainland Greece or in the islands and it can either be commercial or residential. You can buy more than one property as the only goal is to reach minimum investment capital of €250,000. Even joint buyers can combine to buy a single property.
The process of application may take nearly 40 days from the time of investment up to issuance of residence permit. The applicant is required to make investment in Greece ahead of applying for Greek visa. Once the property has been selected through the certain process, a lawyer can then guide and take care of your application process and conveying the legal work required against your residence permit case.
Typically, the applicant is required to initiate some discussion with a lawyer followed by a short trip to Greece of 3 to 4 days to view and select the property, open a bank account and and meet the lawyer. After buying the property, your case will then be taken care by your lawyer who may have the power of attorney. Once things are done correctly, there is even no need for the applicant to visit again in order to collect the residence permit.
Other than the basic capital required to invest, you also need to show that you own a clean record and no crime committed and you need to buy medical insurance in order to cover your stay in Greece. You do not need minimum stay in Greece and your residence permit can be easily renewed after five years with only one condition that you still own the property.
The fee of lawyer, notary and government charges sum up to €15,000 while the applicant may be asked to pay 24% VAT applied to the property purchased in Greece.
The family members that qualify in this program include your spouse and all children under age of 18 years while children above 18 can also qualify if they are still dependent and studying. Recently, the Greek residency program was extended to the parents of both spouse and investors.
Non-residents in Greece are required to pay taxes on their incomes earned from within the Greece but not on the income earned from outside Greece. The rate of tax applied on income is 22% while the income from rental properties in the country varies from 11 to 33% and certain expenses can be deducted from the gross income. The CGT or capital gains tax is applied at 15% on the property sales.
Living and Working
The residence permit of Greece allows the applicant to live in Greece but does not allow to work. However, the applicants are allowed to setup their businesses in Greece.
The residence permit of Greece allows you to move freely across Europe and Schengen states which is nowadays quite hard for the people living in Asia, middle east and Africa. So you can enjoy freedom of travel with this program.
Citizenship and Passport
Once the applicants live in Greece for consecutive seven years, they can then apply for their Greek citizenship and a passport and after that they are free to dispose off their investment as they do not further require the property to renew their visas.
Since this investment program needs the incumbent to stay in Greece, so the program is considered residence investment program rather than citizenship by investment. However, the option to acquire citizenship is for those who are committed to live in Greece.
Applicants attain the right to live in Greece, although they are not required to live there. Because of the residency card, all the family members gain freedom to move freely across the Europe and Schengen zone without any visa application. The Greek residency is transferable as the applicant can sell that property to another non-EU citizen who can then become eligible for the program.
This program offers the most reasonable amount of investment to attain the residence permit in Europe and the rules are quite favorable for the family. However, taxes are quite high and there are certain restrictions that make the program less attractive as compared to that of Cyprus or Portugal.