After the European Commission’s recent call for a crackdown on potential abuses of European golden visa programs by criminals and money launderers, what does the future hold for people hoping to obtain easy European residency in Greece?
Golden visas are programs in which countries offer residency or citizenship to foreign nationals in exchange for investment. Twenty of the EU’s 27 countries offer golden visas. Requiring a minimum real estate investment of just EUR 250,000, Greece’s is the least expensive. Possession of a golden visa entitles one to visa-free travel in the Schengen Area. The European Commission is worried that the mafia, money launderers, and terrorists will use the program to clean their funds and gain access to the visa-free Shengen area of Europe — where they can cause all kinds of problems. Juwai.com CEO and Director Carrie Law provides new insights with particular relevance to the Chinese, but which is also applicable to all potential applicants.
Q1: Does the EU crackdown close the door on Chinese applicants hoping to obtain visas in Greece?
Not at all. We see no likelihood that the popular Greek golden visa program will be ended or made much more difficult for typical Chinese applicants. The EU does not have regulatory authority to eliminate the program. And, with 20 EU member states selling golden visas, there is substantial political support for them within the bloc.
Q2: Has the European Commission’s call for action had any effect at all?
The Greek Parliament has tightened up some of the looser conditions around their golden visa. You can no longer pay in instalments, you can no longer resell the property within five years, and point-of-sale transactions are no longer permitted. Was that tightening a reaction to the European Commission, I don’t know, but it does address some of the most important issues the Commission raised.