Residence through investment is one of the few ways non-EU citizens can gain residential access to Europe and enjoy the continent’s freedoms. Of all the visa-through-investment programs in Europe, the Golden Visa for Greece is one of the most popular. There are several ways a Non-EU can invest in Greece to acquire Golden Visa, but the standard route is to purchase real estate worth a minimum of EUR 250,000.
This article discusses the benefits for non-EU citizens who can apply and provides a step-by-step guide to acquiring a Greek Golden Visa.
What is the Greek Golden Visa Program?
Greece’s Golden Visa Program grants immediate five-year residency in Greece and unlimited visa-free travel possibilities in the Schengen zone for permit holders, their spouses, children under 21 and parents on both sides. The rights that the Golden Visa offers are valid for as long as the property investment remains in the ownership of the permit holder. The visa is renewable every five years, and unlike the Golden Visas in most other European countries, you don’t need to live in Greece to renew. Permit holders can rent the purchased property if they wish and still renew every five years for as long as they retain ownership.
One of the features that make the Greek Golden Visa program so popular among European visa investment programs is that it can lead to full citizenship and a Greek passport.
Advantages of the Greek Golden Visa
The Greek Golden Visa is one of the most sought after visa investment programs in Europe. Here is a summary list of benefits the program offers non-EU citizens:
- Low investment threshold: A property investment of EUR 250,000 is one of the lowest thresholds in Europe for a Golden Visa investment program.
- Greek Residence Permit and the right to live in the country without limitation.
- The freedom to travel across 26 European countries without a need for a visa to travel to each country in the Schengen Zone.
- Family Reunification: Spouse, unmarried children under 21 (24 if students), parents and parents in law can also enjoy all the benefits of the principal permit holder.
- Access to Public Healthcare and State-run Education
- There is no requirement to live in Greece to renew a residence permit, and you can rent the property out if you wish.
- Option for Greek citizenship after seven years of residence. Since Greece is an EU member state, this offers access to the benefits of the EU and visa-free travel to over 100 countries worldwide.
Greece citizenship Through the Golden Visa Program
Investing in Greece via the Golden Visa Program offers the opportunity to transform residency status into full citizenship. To obtain a Greek passport, you will need to demonstrate a higher commitment to the country. Unlike residency status, Golden Visa holders must prove that they live in the country and pay taxes. Furthermore, applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the country, its language, culture, and ties to the country on a fundamental level at a minimum. If these criteria are met, visa holders can apply for full Greek citizenship. Children are also eligible on the attendance at any Greek school for nine years, secondary level education for six years or attendance at university.
Who is Eligible for the Golden Visa Program?
To qualify for the Greek Golden Visa Program, you must be a non-EU/EEA country citizen that meets the following conditions:
- You must be over the age of 18
- Make a significant financial investment in the country. A minimum of EUR +250,000 in property investment.
- Be of good character with no criminal record in any country you have lived.
- Obtain medical insurance for you and your family from a company operating in Greece.
The Step by Step Process of Obtaining a Golden Visa
Here is a complete step by step guide to obtaining a Golden Visa starting from the first steps you will have to take in your own country to full citizenship (if you wish to take it that far). The process is relatively straightforward, but meeting the legal requirements for document submission can be complex. Given the sizeable investment involved, you may want to employ professional legal assistance for some or all of the steps in this process.
Before starting the process, it will be necessary to research and have a good idea about the area you want to live in on arrival in Greece. There are many beautiful places in Greece to live. Athens and Thessaloniki are great options if you need access to city conveniences, work and employment opportunities, and immerse yourself in Greek culture. For peace and tranquillity and higher quality of life, on the other hand, there are few better places in the world than the Mani. Located in the southern region of the Peloponnese peninsula, stunning scenery and welcoming beaches are hallmarks of the Mani, easily accessed from its plentiful coastal towns and enchanting villages.
Apply for an Entry Visa
You must first apply for an entry visa (Schengen Visa) at the Greek Embassy or Consulate in your country to commence the process. Obtaining an entry visa may take several weeks to complete.
A Schengen Visa application will require the following documents:
- A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit to Greece.
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of your stay.
- Medical travel insurance for the entire Schengen zone with a minimum of EUR 30,000 coverage.
- Proof of accommodation for the whole duration of your stay.
- Copy of the Flight Itinerary with entry and exit dates.
Purchase Property in Greece
On arrival in Greece, you will need to find and purchase a property (or properties) that meet your needs over the minimum property investment threshold of EUR +250,000. Given the Greek property market’s unique cultural and legal framework, this process can be a considerable undertaking. Land and property prices in Greece offer excellent value for money. Many foreign investors choose the Peloponnese peninsula for its wide-ranging ancient properties with first-class renovation potential.
Employing a property specialist to help you navigate the pitfalls of purchasing property in places like the Mani is a must. The experts at stayinmani.com can help with the search (not all vacant properties are advertised), translation, building regulations and provide hands-on assistance when you need it. To complete a successful transaction, you may also want to open a bank account in Greece. You will need to be issued a Tax Number (AFM), plus legal Assistance in signing the Final and Proper Purchase Agreement per Golden Visa requirements.
Apply for a Golden Visa
Once a property in Greece is secured, you will be ready to take the next step in your Journey in acquiring Greek residency. To apply for a Golden Visa, applicants must collect and complete an application form. The completed form must be submitted to the Alien and Immigration Department at the Decentralised Authority in Greece along with a payment of EUR 2,000 per person and the following documents:
- A valid passport with entry visa and photocopy.
- 3x recent colour passport pictures for each applicant.
- Proof the relevant government fees have been paid (keep all receipts).
- Copy of Health insurance for you and your family.
- For spouses, applicants must present the original and a copy of the marriage certificate, translated and apostilled.
- For Children, applicants must present translated copies of the original birth certificates for minors.
Documentation for the purchase of real estate must also be presented as follows:
- A copy of the contract for the purchased property of no less than EUR 250,000 in value. The contract of purchase must state the total price, method of payment and attest that there are no conditions or exemptions to the purchase.
- Transfer certificate issued by the land registry
Further notes of the submission of Golden Visa documents
All Golden Visa documents submitted must conform to the following:
- Translated into Greek by an attorney who is part of the Greek bar association or the translation service of the ministry of foreign affairs in Athens.
- Certification by Apostille stamp if the country is a member of the Hague convention or through a Greek Embassy or consulate.
Visit Greece and Submit Biometric Data
Upon submitting the Golden Visa documents, applicants will typically wait around three months on average for a decision to be made. If everything is in order, the application will be approved, and you will be granted a Golden Visa Residence permit valid for five years.
Your biometric data needs to be submitted to finalise the process of obtaining Greek residency status for you and your family. An appointment will be arranged approximately six to twelve weeks from the date the residence card is approved. Residence cardholders will have to attend in person to submit a fingerprint scan. On completion, residence cards are issued approximately one month later. Since they contain biometric data and the holder’s photo, they have the dual purpose of being a Greek ID card.
Renewal of Visa and Citizenship
Golden Visa Residence Card holders can apply for card renewal every five years. Successful renewal does not depend on the holder showing permanent residence in the country. After seven years, permit holders may also apply for full citizenship and a Greek Passport. However, unlike residence status, gaining Greek citizenship through the Golden Visa Program requires higher engagement and commitment to the country and its culture.
Overcoming the Challenges of Golden Visa Applications for Non-Eu Citizens
Gaining Greek residency and possible citizenship through the country’s Golden Visa program is a significant undertaking. One that is achievable solo with advanced planning and preparation. Undoubtedly, however, there will be times when employing a professional help with things like document translation & certification and property search & acquisition is unavoidable. In consideration of the funds involved in securing Greek residence through the Golden Visa Program, employing the help of experts to facilitate a smooth transition makes a lot of sense.
Legal consultation and assistance are always available for specific aspects of the process or can be more comprehensive in their scope. Applicants might wish to employ legal expertise to oversee and undertake the entire application procedure, achievable by assigning power of attorney (POA) to the attorney you want to appoint. In these instances, legal experts can manage property purchases, immigration and everything in between.
Assistance with Property
Employing the assistance of property professionals to find and negotiate a suitable property in Greece is also a necessity, given the unique nature of the Greek property market. A real estate agent can help you find a property that is right for you and assist with the legal aspects of producing documents required to secure a Residence Permit.