After Canada dismantled its ‘investor visa program’ when it got some 46,000 Chinese applicants, it was only a matter of time before China’s wealthy and footloose found a new country where the air is clean, the visa laws lax, and the economy eager for injections of foreign cash. Chinese millionaires, meet Portugal and the “Golden Visa.”
Portugal has rolled out a fancy new visa program, offering residence to any international investor who can buy 500,000 euros worth of real estate, invest one million euros into a Portugese corporation, or create 30 jobs. So far 542 “Golden Visas” have been issued, with Chinese investors taking up 433 of those slots, or about 80%.
The Portuguese, bless their souls, have gone out of their way to make this visa the easiest possible pathway to EU citizenship. Holders of the “residency visa” need to spend only seven days a year in the actual country, and will be eligible for citizenship after six years. As South China Morning Post reports:
“We are finding that 90 per cent of our interested parties are not planning to live in the country,” said Paul Williams, London-based managing director of La Vida Portugal, a real estate consultancy. “They are planning to invest and ultimately gain the citizenship.” […]
“I believe that in 2014 it will be possible to attract more than 500 million euros [HK$5.3 billion] in investment through ‘golden visas’,” said Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas in a note sent to the national news agency Lusa last month. “They play a not small role in the economic recovery.”
Spain, Greece, and Cyprus are apparently planning, or already implementing, similar visa programs with the hopes that Chinese investors will be able to save poor, struggling Europe.
[Image via Wikipedia]