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Global visa and immigration updates – golden visas

Discover the latest updates surrounding golden visas.

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As the global working world becomes increasingly connected, with more and more companies expanding internationally and embracing global mobility as the way of the future, changes and updates to visa and immigration policies are top of mind for lawmakers.

Facilitating foreign investment and broadening talent pools to bridge or prevent skills gaps, is often achieved through updates to visa and immigration rules.

One of the key ways in which governments encourage economy-boosting immigration and business expansion is via Golden Visa programmes. Read on to find out more about these programmes, how and where they’re used, and the current golden visa landscape.

What are golden visas?

Golden Visas essentially offer those with the means to do so, the opportunity to buy residency. Most require a minimum investment to be made in the country, either in property, shares, or philanthropy.

An example is the UAE Golden Visa scheme, which offers renewable residency of up to a decade, allows the holder to work, study, and bring family and domestic helpers into the UAE. UAE Golden Visas are available to investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, and other high achievers. To be eligible for this elite programme, investors must have made public investments or invested into a UAE fund at least AED 10 million (approximately 2,155,442 GBP).

How do golden visas facilitate business expansion?

Through facilitating residency status, golden visas help business leaders to establish their operations in-country legally and compliantly.  The longevity of these visas - which usually last between five and 10 years, are renewable, and provide paths to permanent residency - allows business leaders to become established in-country and trade there with ease and success.

How are golden visas secured?

The stipulations and criteria for golden visas depend on the country offering them. Most countries specify that applicants must be over 18 and in good health and must make a minimum investment in property or elsewhere, the amount of which varies between locations.

For example, in Greece, an investment of between 250,000 EUR and 800,000 EUR must be made, while Canada’s Golden Visa programme requires investments of between 250,000 CAD and 350,000 CAD for an Entrepreneur visa, and minimum 200,000 CAD for the Start-up Visa.

What are governments seeking to achieve through offering golden visas?

Offering Golden Visa programmes to wealthy investors and individuals is a tactic employed by governments, to boost the local economy of their country and encourage innovation and investment – thus, elevating their country’s reputation as an innovative business leader.

Bahrain’s Golden Visa programmes thrives

Bahrain's Golden Visa programme, on which the UAE’s programme is based, has secured $2.4 billion in investments and created 3,000 jobs; making it a shining example of a successful golden visa programme roll-out.

Portugal and Spain axe Golden Visa programmes

However, this isn’t always the outcome. Portugal’s Golden Visa programme, which required investors to buy 500,000 EUR worth of real estate, has been discontinued; blamed in part for the country’s growing housing crisis, with locals unable to afford skyrocketing property prices.

Spain has followed suit, announcing an end to its Golden Visa programme in April of 2024, citing concerns around property speculation and wishing to ensure, “…that housing is a right and not just a speculative business.”

Ireland highlights risks

Ireland’s Golden Visa scheme, which allowed individuals to secure residency for investments of 1 million EUR in an Irish business or philanthropic donations of 500,000 EUR, was discontinued in 2023.

However, in March 2024, a review of Ireland’s Golden Visa scheme uncovered that 90% of applicants had no identifiable links to Ireland.

According to The Irish Times, these applicants “were being signed up through agents who specialised in finding people for the immigration scheme.” It was advised that the programme had risked being exploited by individuals guilty of money laundering and tax evasion.

Ireland’s Department of Justice have stated that it will take “years”, to clear the backlog of applicants to the country’s programme.

Seeking to expand your business?

If you’re seeking to expand your business globally, there are plenty of opportunities and routes to follow. Contact our team of experts today, to discuss how we can help you.