Now that the Portuguese More Housing Bill saga is finally over, Golden Visa stakeholders can finally settle into a rhythm and operate within clear regulations. The Golden Visa will continue, but only through its fund, job creation, and arts and culture investment channels, with the fund being the only one with any significant application numbers.
This is good news for many investors who want to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa, but the new investment regulations may not resonate with many others, and that is why we will ask and answer the question: now that the Portuguese Golden Visa has changed, what is the EU’s best investment migration program?
Many may argue that Malta’s Exceptional Immigrant Naturalization Program (MEIN) is already better than its Portuguese counterpart.
The MEIN provides a faster route to naturalisation. Depending on the donation amount, investors can obtain Maltese citizenship for themselves and their family within one or three years, making it the fastest route to becoming an EU citizen.
There are three facets to the MEIN’s investment amount, with real estate being one of them, and for an investor to qualify, they must invest as follows:
- One year till naturalisation: €750,000, OR
- Three years till naturalisation: €600,000
- Real estate:
- Purchasing real estate for the amount of €700,000, OR
- Renting real estate for the annual amount of €16,000
- Donation of €10,000 to a pre-determined, approved NGO
If an investor chooses the lower contribution amount of €600,000, then the total investment would be around €690,000 with a holding period of 5 years, not much higher than the minimum €500,000 required under the Portuguese Golden Visa, but it does provide a much faster route to citizenship.
But Malta’s MEIN isn’t the only contender for top spot, as the country also boasts the Maltese Permanent Residency Program (MPRP).
The MPRP has a very affordable price tag that is also broken down into different facets as follows:
- Investment options
- Real estate investment:
- An investment in real estate in the amount of €300,000 in the South of Malta/Gozo or €350,000 in the rest of Malta; OR
- Renting a property for a minimum of €10,000 annually in the South of Malta/Gozo or €12,000 in the rest of Malta
- A government contribution of €28,000 if purchasing a property or €58,000 if leasing a property
- An administrative fee of €40,000
- A donation of €2,000 to an NGO
- Real estate investment:
As the MPRP provides applicants with a permanent residency, it is already a step ahead of the other Golden Visas on the list that award successful applicants with temporary residency permits. The minimum initial outlay of €110,000 is also much lower than any Golden Visa, making the MPRP the best option for those looking to obtain an EU permanent residence permit for minimal investment.
Greece & Spain
Greece has also changed up its Golden Visa during this year, doubling the minimum real estate investment from €250,000 to €500,000 in high-demand areas such as most of Athens, Thessaloniki, Varo, Santorini, and Mykonos.
The rest (and the majority) of Greece, though, remains steady at the €250,000 price point, making the Greek Golden Visa a more affordable alternative to the Portuguese one while providing investors the chance to obtain an EU residency through real estate investment.
Spain’s Golden Visa provides an alternative for the Portuguese Golden Visa as it does have a real estate option set with a minimum investment amount of €500,000.
The higher price tag than Greece does put Spain in a lower affordability bracket, but for those already considering spending half a million in Athens, then Spain’s option may prove feasible as well.
Spain’s price point, although historically higher, is now similar to that of Portugal’s. While the Portuguese Golden Visa did have lower investment thresholds under its real estate category, reaching as low as €280,000, that is no longer an option, so Spain does fit the bill in terms of cost and investment type but misses out with its very long naturalisation process of ten years.
The Best Option
While it may sound like a cliche, there is genuinely no universally “best” option because determining the ideal program depends on an individual’s objectives, needs, and financial resources.
However, when considering factors such as the path to citizenship, affordability, and the benefits offered, the Maltese programs consistently rank high.
The MEIN program offers the simplest route to EU citizenship, while the MPRP is the most affordable residency-by-investment program on the list.
As for those interested in real estate investments, Greece and Spain provide good options with splendid benefits. Also, for many, Portugal’s Golden Visa may still prove the best option, as the fund investment category already drew nearly 30% of all applications in the past year, and since the route to naturalisation remains intact, the Golden Visa as we know it is still a robust and beneficial program.
The soundest way to know which program is best for you is by contacting Savory & Partners. We will listen to you, analyse your case, and provide you with the best solution based on decades of experience. All you need to do to start is contact us today to book a comprehensive consultation with one of our experts.
We are available on every channel convenient for you.