MADRID – The golden visa program grants residence rights to foreigners who invest in real estate in Spain. The country is now considering stopping or limiting this controversial Golden Visa scheme.
This is confirmed by sources from the Ministry of Social Security headed by Minister José Luis Escrivá and by sources from Más País, the party led by Íñigo Errejón, which is negotiating this measure with the ministry.
The Golden Visa program grants residence rights in the Schengen zone to foreigners who invest in real estate in the country. It was introduced in 2013 and since then 11,464 individual authorisations have been granted. There are also 19,805 authorisations for family reunification. A total of 31,000 people have been granted a residence permit, in 94% of cases on the basis of the purchase of housing.
Also read: Digital Nomads in Spain with a Golden Visa
After Brexit, the program also became interesting for wealthy British people and nowadays it is mainly used by many people from China and countries in the Middle East. In 2022, Spain granted 2,462 residence permits to investors who bought properties for more than half a million, an increase of almost 60% over the previous year.
Spanish citizenship for sale
Iñigo Errejón of the Más País party stated that it should not be possible to buy Spanish citizenship. According to the politician, the golden visas would have led to a sharp rise in house prices and the displacement of the local population without creating new jobs. Errejón argued that in contrast to their stated purpose of bringing more financial wealth into the country, the golden visas are not actually beneficial to the national economy.
However, the Department of Social Security has not yet confirmed any plans to end the program. An official familiar with the talks said no agreement has yet been reached and the ministry is studying proposals from political parties.
Spain is now considering tougher requirements for golden visa applications, according to a report in El Pais newspaper. Moreover, the amount that must be spent to qualify for a Golden Visa could possibly be doubled.
EU sees security and money laundering risks
The European Commission has called on EU countries to end programs that allow investors to obtain citizenship. In addition, they should tighten up the control on the issuance of residence permits because of security and money laundering risks. Portugal has already announced that it is ending a similar plan. Ireland, Greece and Malta have also adjusted or cancelled their golden visa programmes.
Errejon called the gold visas a “back door privilege” for millionaires, making Spain a kind of “colony” that often attracted black money.
Also read: Golden Visa Spain – residency by investment