Many people seem to want a Plan A or Plan B in the European Union within the Schengen zone and the ability to spend more than 180 days per year in the region (for good passports) or even go there in the first place (for not-so-good passports). So what is the easiest permanent residency in the European Union?
Everyone has heard of the Portugal Golden Visa (which seems to be dying as it would appear real estate won’t qualify anymore) and the Greece Golden Visa (where I am right now).
I’ll come up with an interesting solution for the Greek Golden Visa, which involves dirt-cheap real estate on a beautiful island, but until now I’ve mostly just discussed the Hungary residency by investment program.
However, unlike the program in this video, none of these programs offer immediate permanent residency for the whole family. This applies to you, your spouse, your children under the age of 18, your dependent children over the age of 18, your parents, as well as your spouse’s parents (which you may or may not want to tell her/him).
It’s fast and easy, but not cheap. It’ll cost you €100,000. But if you structure things properly, you can greatly reduce your tax burden, so it’s possible to get a quick ROI on it.
Video on the Malta Permanent Residency by Investment program.
An interesting solution for non-EU people for want the easiest permanent residency in the European Union
To a World of Opportunities,
The Wandering Investor
Articles about citizenships by investment:
- Be careful when you buy a passport in the Caribbean
- Best Deal for the Citizenship by Investment in Turkey
- How to obtain Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment
- Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment
If you want to read more such articles on other real estate markets in the world, go to the bottom of my International Real Estate Services page.
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.
Transcript of “Easiest Permanent Residency in the European Union”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. So today, we shall be discussing the fastest and easiest way to obtain permanent residency immediately in the European Union. So, Laszlo, how are you?
LASZLO: Good, good. Good morning to you. I’m happy to be again with you.
Obtain permanent residency in the European Union through Malta
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yes. So this option that we’ll be discussing is the fastest and the easiest, but it’s certainly not the cheapest. So Laszlo has been in the high-end immigration space for close to 30 years, correct?
LASZLO: That is correct, yes. Time flies.
LADISLAS MAURICE: [laughs] So can you tell us about this option?
LASZLO: The option is provided by the government of Malta, which is part of the European Union, and also part of the Schengen zone, which is also an important consideration. Malta has several residency and citizenship programs. And one of them is the Malta Permanent Residence Programme, where applicants, after obviously fulfilling the conditions, would get an indefinite right to stay, meaning that permanent residency for life. And that includes not just the main applicant, but at the same time of the application, is that the spouse and the children could also apply, and they would also receive the permanent, I call it is a residency permit because, in essence, it is a permanent residency permit, and then all of them get it for life.
So all in all, that is now the only such program in Europe which provides immediate permanent residency. When I’m saying immediate, obviously, there is a kind of a processing time. So it’s not like that you go to the authority and it’s automatically issued right away. But then they have to do a proper due diligence procedure. And then if the client satisfied the conditions, then they would receive the certificate proving that it is valid for life.
How to quality for permanent residency in Malta through investment
LADISLAS MAURICE: Fantastic. So for people who want Schengen access all the time, anytime, this is the way to go. So tell me about what are these conditions.
LASZLO: Clients have two choices. One is purchase a property for €350,000 and keep it for five years, or make a rental agreement also for five years as a minimum. In certain parts of Malta, it would be €10,000 per year, not per month, but per year, or in the better locations or the more populated locations, it’s €12,000 per year. So then they could make a choice. And the government fee, it depends on whether you want to use the property purchase or the rental. If you want to use the rental, which is done by 99% of the people, then the government contribution, a government administration fee and the contribution is €98,000. And also there is a €2,000 which you have to donate to a local charity. I think it is easier if we call it as €100,000 donation, and that is for the rental. And otherwise, it’s €70,000 if you buy the property. Meaning that you have a choice.
You could wait till you look around, you start with the rental period, then you could exchange it to a property investment, if you want to invest in a property there. So you could just change the way of that. But at the end, that is the most important cost component. You must have a health insurance from the private sector. But then for a 45-year-old applicant, the yearly cost of what we have with an insurance company is around €550 per year. And that is also, I think that is not really a big cost. Those are the two main costs accruing. And then the client has to keep the property or has to keep the rental for five years. And after five years, they just have to have some kind of an address as also continue the permanent residency.
Minimum physical presence requirements for the Malta permanent residency program
LADISLAS MAURICE: Very interesting. And so no minimum physical requirements?
LASZLO: That is also something which is very important that, yes, no actual days to be spent in Malta, not before the application and not after the application to keep the permanent residency permit. That means that it’s very, very favorable. I participated in a conference where I asked the boss of that agency at that time, “And then what happens if the client doesn’t go to Malta and, after 15 years, wants to return and show this document that, yes, it’s valid for entry?” No problem whatsoever. Anytime, even after 10 or 15 years that is valid, because that is valid for life.
Do children qualify for permanent residency in Malta through the investor program?
LADISLAS MAURICE: So interesting. What about the children? So they get permanent residency as well? So, let’s say, you have a kid, he’s 12. He gets permanent residency. Does that extend into when he’s 18, once he becomes an adult? Does he also get permanent residency? Is it still valid for life, in the sense that, by doing this, you’re not just getting permanent presidency for yourself and your children, but also your future adults that are children now, and that they’ll get better access to EU universities cheaper, they’ll have access to the EU labor market, etc.?
LASZLO: It doesn’t apply to newly born children, only the already live children can be included in the application and would qualify for the permanent residency. If they persons would live in Malta, and they would like to have a family reunification for a newly born child, then yes, that can be also done. And then they could also have the residency permit when they are young.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But what about the older children once they become 18? Do they still keep their permanent residency, or does it expire?
LASZLO: They can keep the residency permit, yes.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay. So I think this is–
LASZLO: Sorry. Of course, they have to be dependent on the main applicant.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay.
LASZLO: But then and even university studies are covered, so they can be included in the application up to the age of 28, or 30, or whatever time they are able to get a certificate from the university that they are still full-time studies in the university.
LADISLAS MAURICE: This is really interesting. So because it’s, in the big scheme of things, it’s 100K, it’s a fair amount of money to just donate to a government. But especially for Americans, in some cases, they can actually make a pretty good ROI on it, in the sense that they can get the permanent residency in Malta, let’s just take like a bit of an extreme scenario. They move to Malta. Let’s say, the couple is in their 50s, they have three children, and they’re teens. Then, thanks to this, then the children can go to universities in the European Union and only pay EU fees as opposed to international student fees. So this can lead to very low university fees compared to having to sending the kids in the US.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So ROI there. And same thing in terms of healthcare. If one of the two individuals gets cancer, or whatever, has a major issue, they’re covered in Malta at the cost of only €500 a year, compared to very expensive health insurance in the US. So it’s not just paying just for a document, if you actually stress test it, in some cases, people can actually get an ROI on it, especially if it then offers their children the opportunity or the possibility of working in the European Union. Essentially, when you’re a permanent resident of the European Union, of a country within the European Union, it’s fairly easy to get a job in another country of the EU. So then it would mean that your children would have the opportunity to work either back home in the US, or, if they liked the European lifestyle and lower salaries, they could stay in the European Union. So it’s an interesting product, for sure. Very few people talk about it. Why?
Why do few people discuss the Malta permanent residency by investment program?
LASZLO: I think that Maltese service providers usually only offer Malta, and it is very rare that like a company like ours, which we would like to offer all the possibilities to people, not just Malta, one of our companies is headquartered in Malta, it has its license there, but we are not really tied to Malta. So the Maltese service providers are just really not marketing it with other possibilities. So the word is not spread as widely as if they would, let’s say, Antigua, and St. Kitts, and Malta, and Greece, and Portugal, many, many jurisdictions. Then obviously, people who would like to get something in the EU, they could offer this possibility. No, they are just usually offering Malta with exceptions. But that is usually the main way, that only Malta and Malta and Malta and Malta. And that narrows the customer base, I would say. That is my feeling.
Does Maltese permanent residency lead to citizenship?
LADISLAS MAURICE: Interesting. Does it lead to citizenship?
LASZLO: It could lead to citizenship, but then it is like everywhere in the world, whatever is being promised by people, property developers, or whoever they are, that without real ties to the country, then it would be very hard to get citizenship. Even in Portugal, no statistics came out for the last five years where people applied and they got or they didn’t get citizenship. And that is always a very suspicious thing, that when no statistics are provided and the service providers are not advertising that, “This is now my 50th client who got his Portuguese citizenship.” So all in all, even in countries where it is being marketed very heavily, which is definitely not Malta at all, then there are those that, yes, the citizenship with only one week stay every year is possible at all. There is no advantage for any country to give out citizenship for such a small layout.
Okay, you buy a property. After five years, you sell it. In the meantime, you spend one week. How much is the government, how much is the country’s gained for five years? Every single year, it’s one week, that’s it. There is no real advantage for the country to provide citizenship. And that is why all the countries are now strengthening the requirements to be tied to the local society to get citizenship in an easy way after four or five years’ time.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. So essentially, it’s possible to get citizenship but not just by having it as a paper residency, you need to move there, you need to live there full-time, probably need to learn the language, have true ties, then you can apply and then see what happens.
LASZLO: Malta has also one big advantage that English is one of the official languages. So if you speak English–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay. So you don’t need to learn Maltese?
LASZLO: Meaning that, again, to tie in the society is much, much easier, because you do not have to learn a foreign language, which is also an advantage. According to the citizenship law, you could apply after five years. But I have bad news for all the people who dream about spending the minimum amount of money, not having any stay, and getting a citizenship. In a EU country, that doesn’t work anymore. I think even in Greece, it is very, very hard to convert it. In Portugal, it’s very, very hard to convert it just by an investment. If you do not live in that country, why should that country give you citizenship? That is now getting clearer and clearer. Still, there are many people who are trying to sell the European residencies with the aim, you could have citizenship, you could have citizenship. I’m not that one, by the way. I would rather tell the truth of the interested parties than to lie something to get a sale because, sooner or later, that would ruin our reputation.
In Greece, for example, you have to keep the investment to keep the permit. Even it’s not a permanent residency permit, you have to have the same investment, to keep the same investment for an indeterminate time. Because if you set a property and you do not buy a new one, you lose your residency permit. In Malta, after five years, you do whatever you want to do. That is even a five-year rental of €10,000 per year. Come on now, that is not really a big cash layout, I would say, compared to the €400,000, which now the good locations Greece charges, it’s like €10,000 per year. It’s €50,000. I think that, financially, that is not a bad proposition. Also, the property carrying costs and all the matters. If you do not move there, then it is a headache. And it’s a possible way of investment income.
But then thereafter, the tax returns, the filling out the tax returns, all this hassle you have to add to the cost when you are comparing Malta, which is a very simple donation. Yearly rental, you keep the permanent residency permit. End of story with other countries. That’s my opinion.
Malta vs Portugal vs Greece vs Hungary golden visas
LADISLAS MAURICE: Great. Thank you. So yeah, because essentially right now Portugal is a bit out of the equation. They’re reworking it. There is, potentially, some fund options that are still going to be available, but we’ll see what that is. I’m always very wary of funds, especially funds in Portugal targeting people who just want to buy something like now. For the paperwork, I doubt they would be good investments. You’ve got, to your point, Greece, the minimum is €250,000. You can buy some small islands. Real estate is really cheap. But then again, yes, it’s not permanent residency. It’s just essentially you have residency as long as you keep the property, so it’s definitely inferior to permanent residency in Malta. And then you have also a program that you deal with, Laszlo, is the Hungarian Residency by Investment Program, which is not very well known, but doesn’t quite lead to permanent residency, either. It’s very hard to get permanent residency.
LASZLO: You have to stay in the country, yes. Again, you have to stay in the country to qualify for permanent residency.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah.
LASZLO: This is now getting really the ruling in the European Union. And I think, at the end, professionally, I have to understand that, yes, this is normal and this is how it should be done. You have terms. You want to settle down, fair enough, then live in that country indefinitely.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. So if you want easy, fast, Malta, and then slightly less good in terms of paperwork, you’ve got Greece, Hungary, totally different vibes but both can qualify with real estate. Cool, fantastic. And Laszlo can help you with essentially all of them, as well as passports in the Caribbean, etc. So if you’re interested in learn learning more about the Malta Permanent Residence Programme, feel free to reach out to Laszlo. He’ll send you a brochure with all the information, costs, fees, etc. So there is a link below where you can reach him, as well as his email. Laszlo, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.
LASZLO: It was a pleasure on my side, also. Thank you.