Samuel Harvey, Director of Business Development of Harvey Law Group, explains the best way to acquire the Golden Visa of Spain.
Why Spain for a Golden Visa?
Spain is top of mind for most – if not all – Filipino clients due to the colonial heritage of the Philippines and its intertwined history with Spain. There are several ways to become a Spaniard — you can show evidence of your lineage, marry a Spaniard or legally spend enough time in Spain.
What is a Golden Visa?
However, the Spanish residency-by-investment program (aka Golden Visa) essentially grants a right to legally reside in Spain in exchange for an investment into a property (or properties) worth a minimum of EUR 500,000.
By extension, a Spanish Golden Visa holder (and all qualifying family members) may opt to work and study in Spain without the need to further secure an additional work or study permits.
The Spanish Golden Visa also offers a certain mobility within other Schengen countries under normal circumstances. Migration and mobility policies do not necessarily apply during the time of COVID19 and other pandemics.
The Golden Visa is notably popular in the Philippines. It provides a path for Filipinos to obtain citizenship after two years and therefore secure a Spanish passport. However, careful consideration should be given to applicants looking at the Golden Visa as a path to citizenship.
What are the advantages of getting a Golden Visa for Spain, compared to getting one from neighboring Portugal?
The main factors which differentiate the Spanish and Portuguese programs are residency, options for investment and the citizenship path.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: SPAIN vs PORTUGAL
Portugal has a residency requirement of roughly a week per year in order to maintain the Golden Visa. Meanwhile Spain doesn’t have a residency requirement. A point for Spain. Click here to contact the Harvey Law Group.
Options for a Golden Visa
Spain in mainly popular for its real estate investment option, whilst Portugal offers multiple investment options for potential investors. A point for Portugal.
The most popular options among our clients for a Portugal visa include:
Minimum investment of EUR 350,000 into an investment fund
Minimum investment of EUR 350,000 into a qualifying real estate property in need of refurbishment
Minimum investment of EUR 500,000 into at least one real estate property
Commitment of EUR 175,000 into an incubation program under the Start-up Visa program.
Path to Citizenship
Portugal also provides a route to citizenship after five (5) years. On the other hand, for non-colonized countries, Spain is also open for citizenship but only after 10 years. Filipinos and citizens of other countries once colonized by Spain may be able to receive a Spanish passport as early as two years after receiving the first residency visa.
Once citizenship is secured, according to the latest data from IATA, Spain has a slight advantage regarding its passport strength since it currently provides visa-free access to 188 jurisdictions. Meanwhile Portugal has access to 186 jurisdictions.
What are the major hurdles for a Golden Visa from Spain?
There is no hurdle in applying for the Golden Visa so to speak. However, there is a note to be made about the misconceptions that several Filipinos have on the differences between what the Golden Visa is, the path to citizenship, and the requirements (and potential impact) of becoming a Spaniard on one’s wealth situation.
The Spanish Golden Visa is fairly straightforward. It has neither residency, language nor test requirements. Renewing this Golden Visa every two to five years is simple and the fees are minimal. As long as the applicant maintains the investment and continues to respect the initial requirements, the Golden Visa can be renewed. Click here to contact the Harvey Law Group.
How do I acquire Spanish citizenship?
The path to citizenship is a different story. To qualify for citizenship in Spain, one must speak Spanish. The applicant must also demonstrate proficiency on Spanish culture and history in Spanish via an examination.
Nationals from non-colonized countries may need to relinquish their former citizenship and application will probably take ten years. Filipinos will need two to three years and they can retain their Filipino citizenship.
What is the approximate total outlay for a successful Golden Visa from Spain?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ as the total outlay varies depending on the family constitution, as well as the property type and location. If the minimum investment is set at EUR 500,000, the investor should expect to pay an additional EUR 50,000 to 75,000. This is for the various taxes and fees associated with the property.
In addition, there are third party disbursements such as government and application fees, alongside professional legal fees. Total outlay will be a minimum of EUR 575,000 to EUR 600,000.
How long will the Golden Visa process take?
This varies depending on whether the applicant will (or can) visit Spain or not. Average processing time is between one to four months. I also wish to stress that HLG is still able to process all applications remotely, amidst the current pandemic.
Indeed, all meetings with our counterpart in Spain, the selection and purchase of property, the completion of the Golden Visa application, and even a preselection of schools for their children, can be done remotely and through digital means via our firm. Click here to contact the Harvey Law Group.
Can everyone apply for a Spanish Golden Visa?
The program is restricted to non-EU/EEA nationals. Also, those with past criminal convictions, unpaid debts to Spanish authorities, and record of illegal entry or stay in Spain cannot apply. Politically Exposed Persons(PEP) also require a thorough and extensive legal assessment.
What happens to the Golden Visa if an investor wants to sell the property?
The Spanish Golden Visa is reliant on the property so an investor cannot sell the property before converting the residency permit into a permanent residency status or citizenship in Spain. Once the investor attains either of those status, he or she may dispose of the property without any impact on their immigrant status in Spain.
Would you recommend the Spanish Golden Visa to your clients?
The Spanish program is popular but all programs have their own set of pros and cons. We base our recommendation on the needs and requirements of applicants. It’s our role as legal advisers to give all information to the applicant, to enable him or her to make an informed decision.
Why should I choose HLG to help apply for the Spanish Golden Visa?
Our professional duties are to the client. We have seen many ‘consultants’, ‘advisors’ and other questionable individuals presenting the Golden Visa in Spain as an outright ‘Citizenship-by-Investment Program’ or as an easy process to get citizenship.
This is not a true representation of the program. Hiring a non-professional or failing to consider key factors could result in unfortunate financial losses in addition to a potential immigration ban of up to 10 years. Click here to contact the Harvey Law Group.
“Each client should carefully undertake due diligence on both the investment and the service provider. They should also seek professional opinion on the potential tax exposure in both their current country of residency and in Spain.
“As a law firm, HLG carries out the necessary due diligence and manages the whole process from start to finish. Our integrity is paramount, and we are prepared to go the extra mile for our clients to make sure the chosen program is the right one for them.”
Harvey Law Group (HLG)was founded by Jean-Francois Harvey in 1992. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the firm now has over 20 offices worldwide. It has proven expertise on residency, permanent residency, and citizenship by investment.
Considered a pioneer in the industry, it has advised countless individuals and families on acquiring a second passport. It has also counselled foreign governments on their immigration laws and regulations.