Compared with other valid resident permits in Spain, the ‘golden visa’ offers some clear advantages, including:
- A shorter visa application processing period; in contrast to the standard 90- day visa processing period, the maximum processing time for the ‘golden visa’ is 2 weeks. The opportunity to apply for a resident card within 12 months of the date of visa issue or within the 3 months following its expiration date. In other cases, this period is much more strictly regulated.
- The opportunity to obtain a resident card for two years, even if this card has just been issued for the first time.
- Freedom of travel; the normal minimum period of stay in Spanish territory for 183 days is not required for the extension of this residence permit.
- If the period of stay does not exceed 183 days, it is not necessary to file income documents for the tax agencies or to pay taxes.
The requirements a potential ‘golden visa’ holder must meet
As is evident from the name of the visa, only wealthy foreign citizens who plan to invest significant amounts of money in the Spanish economy are eligible for this ‘golden visa.’ The following types of investments fulfill the requirements for ‘golden visa’ eligibility:
- The purchase of real estate in Spain, the cost of which constitutes 0.5 million euros or higher per person;
- The deposit of a sum exceeding 1 million euros in one of the Spanish banks;
- The purchase of shares in Spanish companies for a total sum that exceeds 1 million euros; The purchase of bonds for a sum that exceeds 2 million euros.
It is worth mentioning that real estate purchase is the most common way to obtain the ‘golden visa’ in Spain.
According to the law #14/2013, the minimum investment amount in real estate on Spanish territory cannot be fewer than 0.5 million euros per adult, able-bodied person. The law refers both to the purchase of one property object and several property objects. It is not a prerequisite for the property to be an apartment or a house – commercial real estate is also included in this category. The purchase of a commercial property object with its subsequent lease is a rather popular option on the real estate market. If you chose this option, it is possible to register a private company in Spain and later to register a property purchased on this legal entity. You also can apply for a residence permit if you own a controlling interest.
With the purpose of property purchase, an investor is allowed to apply for a loan. Yet, he or she can use this loan only to pay for the portion of a purchase that exceeds the mandatory 0.5 million euros. Hence, if an investor buys a property, the value of which is 0.5 million euros, he or she must pay the entire sum in full without resorting to mortgage loans. Should this requirement not be met, the investor’s application for a ‘golden visa’ will be rejected.
If an investor’s family consists of two adults, both family members are eligible for a ‘golden visa’ if they purchase a property valued at 1 million euros or higher. There is another visa option for a family, however: one spouse may buy a property at the price of 0.5 million euros and register it in his or her name. After that, it becomes possible for that family member to apply for a residence permit and submit documents for family reunification to achieve a visa for the spouse.
Obtaining the ‘golden visa’
- The first step is to make a purchase or investment.
- Next, one submits the documents for a national visa, type D, as an investor in the Spanish economy. It is also possible to submit the required documents to the Spanish consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. After obtaining a visa with a one-year validity period, within this year, one must enter the territory of the country at least once.
- After the aforementioned steps, one applies for a 2-year residence permit in Spain. Throughout the entire validity period of this visa, an investor can submit an application to obtain a residence permit, and he or she preserves this right for the first three months after the visa’s expiration date. It is crucial to remember the importance of meeting the deadlines, since a ‘golden visa’ cannot be extended. If the documents are submitted on time, this visa changes status and converts to a residence permit. If one fails to meet the deadlines, the ‘golden visa’ request application is rejected. It is possible to request the visa once again after buying another real estate object, purchasing securities, and opening a deposit – but all the steps must then be repeated from the beginning.
One can apply for the investor’s residence permit in Madrid, where the department of large companies and strategic organizations is located. Within 20 days, the department issues a decision on a submitted application (and the investor is informed by e-mail or by phone).
The fourth step is to request a plastic resident card and obtain the card. One submits the required documents to a special police department in Spain located at the address of the investor’s foreign registration. Fingerprints for identification are taken at the same police department. In the future, every five years a residence permit extension must be requested in Madrid for the investor and all of his or her family members. A resident card is issued by the police department.
Should an investor decide to sell the property objects that served as the cause for obtaining the Spanish ‘golden visa,’ he or she must inform the relevant bodies about the sale as well as about concluding a new investment agreement. Only with these measures is it possible to prolong a residence permit. The investor’s family members must go to Spain at least once per year to extend their residence permits.
In 2017, the Spanish government plans to introduce several significant innovations that will allocate further privileges for applicants for ‘golden visas.’ Among these innovations, we can specify the following in advance:
- In addition to a spouse and minor children, the investor’s parents and adult children also will be eligible for a residence permit. If an investor is not married, his or her registered partner enjoys this right, too;
- It is quite likely that the requirement of a yearly mandator visit to Spain for the residence permit extension will be abolished. This makes a great difference for Chinese investors, for example, who wish to travel through other European countries after obtaining the Spanish ‘golden visa’ and a subsequent residence permit rather than be present constantly in Spain;
- There is a new plan to start issuing the investor’s residence permit for five years;
- ‘Golden visas’ with a validity period of six months may be introduced for investors who have signed pledge agreements and executed deposits in any Spanish bank for the subsequent purchase of real estate, but have not yet signed a purchase transaction. This innovation is especially important, since the procedure of sale-and-purchase of the property objects is time-consuming and can last up to several months. Once the purchase is registered, the investors may then apply for a residence permit that is valid for 5 years.