Investing in high-end real estate now has a benefit beyond the obvious monetary incentive. “Golden visa” programs lead ex-patriots on a fast track to citizenship in their new countries. When a foreigner invests over a certain dollar threshold they are eligible to receive a residence visa, which often leads to a passport.
15 countries currently have programs that directly offer citizenship to foreign real estate investors; this list includes 5 smaller Caribbean countries, Turkey, Cyprus, and Malta. Dominica is the fastest to hand out passports, while Turkey is the slowest.
For only a residence visa purchase however, the list expands to include the majority of the EU and the United States. These visas can often lead to passports, but the ease of this upgrade varies drastically depending on the country. Portugal require a five-year waiting period, while Latvia requires a 10 year wait, along with difficult language tests. Latvians even insist that the applicant learns the national anthem.
The other major factor for visa shoppers is the minimum investment requirement. While an EU residence permit in Greece will run you €250,000, for a residence permit in the United Kingdom, an investor will have to pay the equivalent of €2.268 million.
Overall the global golden visa and passport market has grown to a whopping $20 billion a year, and most countries are thrilled to receive the economic boost that accompanies an active real estate market.