Spanish Golden Visa Program to end in 2024?

Golden Visa Program 2024


Spain’s recent announcement to terminate their Golden Visa program has sent shockwaves through the real estate and investor communities. The decision, revealed recently by Spanish authorities, underscores a significant shift in the country’s immigration policy and its approach to attracting foreign investment.

The government will eliminate the provision that allows obtaining a residence visa based on housing investment, known as the golden visa. This mechanism grants residence permits to foreigners who invest more than 500,000 euros in a home in Spain without considering charges or mortgages. This was announced yesterday by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, during a visit to the municipality of Dos Hermanas to participate in an event on social housing.

El Pais


The Spanish government has formally declared the end of the Golden Visa program, effective from 2024 onwards. This decision marks the culmination of growing concerns over the program’s impact on the housing market and allegations of misuse.

“We recognize the contributions of the Golden Visa program but acknowledge its unintended consequences,” stated María Villar, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, echoing sentiments expressed in various forums. “Ending the program aligns with our commitment to fairness and transparency in immigration.”

Rising Concerns and Allegations:


The decision to discontinue the Golden Visa program reflects mounting concerns over its repercussions on Spain’s housing affordability and the integrity of its real estate sector. Reports have highlighted instances of inflated property prices and accusations of corruption and money laundering linked to the program.

Golden visas are a tool approved by the PP government of Mariano Rajoy in 2013, during the financial crisis. Their aim was to attract foreign investors at a time when the real estate sector was struggling due to the burst of the housing bubble and major capitals were hesitant about Spain. Since then, successive governments have granted 11,464 residence permits to foreign investors, according to official data until the end of 2022. Most of these permits are for purchasing a home.

In 2022, the European Commission, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, warned about these mechanisms of granting residence permits in exchange for money and urged EU partners to eliminate these pathways allowing for changing residency. Since then, countries like Ireland or Portugal took steps to abolish these golden visas, and Greece tightened access to these mechanisms.

Impact on Foreign Investors:


The termination of the Golden Visa program will undoubtedly impact foreign investors who have utilized the scheme to secure residency in Spain. For years, the program has been a preferred route for investors from countries like China, Russia, and the Middle East seeking access to the European market.

A report from Transparency International published last year highlights that Chinese and Russian citizens are the main beneficiaries of golden visas in Spain. Since 2013, Spain has granted 2,712 visas to Chinese investors, with 99.33% of them issued under the premise of real estate acquisition. Similarly, for Russian investors, a total of 1,159 visas have been granted, with 94.65% of them awarded for purchasing a house.

Following them are Iranian investors, with 203 visas, 99.01% of which were issued for real estate acquisition; American investors, with a total of 179 visas (94.97% for buying a home); and UK investors, with 177 visas (93.78% for housing).

Other countries on the list with fewer visas granted by Spain include Egypt (143 visas), Ukraine (143 visas), the Philippines (122 visas), Mexico (114 visas), Venezuela (98 visas), and Saudi Arabia (89 visas). (Source: EL Pais)

This visa option was a great opportunity for wealthy UK citizens, following Brexit. However, too many have sat and waited for too long to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Spanish Golden Visa program. Maybe they have now left it too late!

Future Immigration Strategies:


As Spain bids farewell to the Golden Visa program, attention turns to the development of alternative immigration strategies. While details regarding replacement schemes are yet to be unveiled, stakeholders anticipate the introduction of initiatives that prioritize transparency, affordability, and economic growth.

“We remain committed to fostering foreign investment and talent in Spain,” assured Minister Villar. “We are exploring new avenues to achieve these goals while addressing the shortcomings of the Golden Visa program.”

Conclusion:


The end of Spain’s Golden Visa program represents a pivotal moment in the country’s immigration landscape. While the decision may pose challenges for foreign investors, it also signifies Spain’s resolve to address housing inequalities and enhance the integrity of its real estate sector. As the country embarks on a new chapter in immigration policy, opportunities for investment and residency will undoubtedly emerge through innovative and equitable initiatives.

We continue to follow the news and announcements on this matter and will keep you updated on developments. If you have any specific questions, do not hesitate to get in touch …

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