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Published
July 13, 2024
Category
Residency by investment programs

How to Get an EU Residence Permit | 5 Most Effective Ways

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the desire to live and work in different parts of the globe has never been stronger. Fortunately, Europe offers different avenues to individuals seeking to obtain residency within its member states. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the concept of the EU residence permit, its types, and the methods for obtaining them. We’ll put particular emphasis on different investment programs that smooth the path to residency, highlighting the benefits and requirements. 

Key Takeaways

  • The main pathways and reasons for getting an EU residence permit are family, education, employment, and international protection, among other reasons. Investment programs are considered the most effective and easiest method for high-net-worth individuals in search of new opportunities.
  • Many European countries have launched their own investment programs, including Malta, Spain, Greece, and Portugal.
  • Key factors to consider while choosing the right investment program are the following: eligibility, investment amount, time processing, tax implications, and available investment options. 

What is a Residence Permit in the EU?

A residence permit in the EU is an official document that grants non-EU citizens the legal right to live and work in an EU country. It’s given for various reasons: education, employment, studies, medical treatment, and marriage, just to name a few. 

To be clear, there are two types of residence permits: 

  • a temporary residence permit 
  • a permanent residence. 

The first one is usually renewed every year, depending on the regulations of the country, while the permanent residence has unlimited validity, with the only requirement being the renewal of the ID card, typically every five years. Permanent residents have almost the same rights and privileges as citizens. However, they can’t vote in national elections, and there are some restrictions on certain jobs that require security clearance. 

In 2022, almost 3.5 mln first-time EU residence permits were issued to non-EU citizens, which is 17.8% higher compared with 2021. 

Two Types of Resident Permits in the EU to Obtain

We have outlined the types of EU residence permits. Let’s have a broader look at them. 

A temporary residence permit allows non-EU residents to reside in an EU country for a specific purpose and period of time. Most countries usually issue first-time EU residence permits with a one-year validity period. This type of permit must be renewed periodically, and holders must meet certain requirements and conditions to maintain it. 

Not only can resident permit holders reside in a country, but they can also work, study, get medical treatments, and have access to public services of their choice. 

However, these rights greatly vary depending on the type of permit one holds. For example, holders of temporary residence permits may have limited rights to work or study and may not have full access to public services. Similarly, residence permits for employment purposes typically allow the holder to work, but the permit may be limited to a specific employer or field.

Once residence permit holders decide to tie longer-term goals with an EU country, they will need to obtain permanent residence. It comes with all the rights and privileges of a residence permit, but the package is filled with more stability and security. 

The permanent residence holders can live in an EU country for an indefinite period of time and stay in other EU member states for more than 90 days, depending on the country. There is more protection against removal or deportation, as permanent residents can be deported only in exceptional circumstances. For example, Malta requires 183 calendar days or six months of physical presence from residence permit holders. Failing to do so will result in the loss of residency. 

Five Ways to Get an EU Residence Permit

The classification of EU residence permits based on the reason for issuance falls into four main categories

  • Family reasons, 
  • Education,  
  • Remunerated reasons,
  • Other reasons.

We’ll allocate a separate section to thoroughly discuss investment programs that grant residency. They are available across different EU countries, which will be talked about in more detail. 

Family Reasons

Family reunification has been the main reason for immigration into the EU for the past 20 years. It is governed by the EU Family Reunification Directive. Non-EU nationals who are legally residing in an EU state have the right to apply for family reunification. Family members who can be reunited include:

  • Spouse
  • Minor children, including the adopted
  • Dependant parents

In order to be eligible for the program, the applicants should have sufficient financial funds to maintain their families. There should also be proof of family ties, accommodation, and income. Some restrictions in the process include the age requirements. For example, children should be under 18 in Spain to be eligible for the program, while Denmark requires both spouses to be at least 23+1⁄2 years old.

Education

Those students who wish to start or continue their academic journey in one of the institutions in EU member states receive a student residence permit. This permit grants them a residency in the host country as well as an opportunity to work with some restrictions that typically apply to working hours. For instance, Malta allows international students to work up to 20 hours per week. 

Employment or Remunerated Reasons

Many highly skilled workers, researchers, and seasonal workers seek EU residency for employment. Typically, EU member states grant a single work permit for one year. It gives non-EU workers the right to equal treatment with EU nationals in areas like security and working conditions. However, it’s hard to extend after expiration as specific documentation is needed, and the urge to stay in the position should be clarified clearly.  The main reason here is the lack of local experts. Highly specialized experts receive an EU Blue Card, an electronic certificate proving the right to work and live in an EU state. It is worth mentioning that Denmark, Ireland, and the UK do not issue a Blue Card. 

Other Reasons

EU residence permits might be granted to vulnerable people falling into these categories: international protection, including refugees, unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking, and more. These resident permits are essential for those fleeing persecution, conflict, or other dangers in their homeland. A recent example can be Ukrainian refugees seeking protection in many EU countries. For instance, the Czech Republic extended the temporary protection on its territory until 31 March 2025

Let us note that temporary protection status can end when the situation in the country of origin is such that the return is safe. 

Four European Countries Offering Residency by Investment Programs

Residency through investment programs are gaining more and more popularity nowadays. They are a pathway for high-net individuals to obtain residency in a foreign country by making a significant investment. These programs offer the investors to live, work, study, receive public healthcare, and get access to many public services in the host country. To cut it short, residency status, packed with all the perks, is offered in return for an investment. 

Many individuals with sufficient funds opt to obtain their EU residence permits through investment programs. That’s why many EU member states have launched their residency through investment schemes. 

Malta

Malta offers residence through an investment program that grants residency to non-EU nationals eager to make a qualifying investment in the country. The minimum investment amount is €300,000. The good news is that Maltese citizenship can be obtained after 12 to 36 months of residency, depending on the level of investment and other conditions. The latter includes demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the Maltese language and culture and having a clean criminal record. 

The program comes with a bunch of benefits, namely visa-free travel in the Schengen area, tax efficiency, and a high standard of living. 

Spain

There is muchó to love about Spain: vibrant cities, warm atmosphere, stunning scenery, and more.  It’s an alluring destination for many investors. Due to such a high demand, Spain announced its residency program in 2003, offering people an opportunity to gain residency. The minimum investment amount is €500,000, which can be made in real estate. The good thing about the program is that residence permit holders only need to visit Spain once a year to maintain their Golden Visa and eventually apply for permanent residence.

Portugal 

Portugal is often regarded as an affordable country, offering a high quality of life at relatively lower costs compared to other European countries. It is also an increasingly attractive country among investors. The process for acquiring a Golden visa is very straightforward and has very few requirements. The minimum investment amount is €350,000 in return for residency. Like Spain, resident permit holders must stay in Portugal at least 7 days a year to maintain their residency. 

Greece

The Greece Golden Visa program allows non-EU nationals to obtain a renewable five-year residence permit in exchange for a qualifying investment, typically a minimum of €250,000 in real estate. One of the benefits of the program is visa-free travel in the Schengen area, as well as access to public services, healthcare, and the educational system. 

It is worthy of note that after August 31, 2024, the program will undergo significant changes, resulting in updated requirements and a minimum investment amount, which is expected to be €400,000.

Choosing the right path: Factors to consider when selecting an investment program

1. Eligibility Requirements 

Residency through investment programs comes with certain eligibility criteria that must be met before starting the application process. Though each country has its own set of criteria, the requirements tend to follow the same broad guidelines. It is essential to note that complying with the program’s guidelines is crucial; otherwise, the EU residence permit might be revoked. 

2. Investment Amount

The required investment amount for residency through investment programs can vary significantly across different EU countries, ranging from a few hundred euros or dollars to millions. Therefore, choosing an investment threshold that aligns with financial capabilities is vital. 

3. Investment Options

Residency through investment programs allow applicants to choose between investment options. Among the given options are purchasing real estate, investing in fund units, bank deposits, and more. Notably, investment in real estate is often profitable and can be sold for profit after several years, while the rest is usually non-refundable.

4. Speed of Processing

Investment programs usually have a shorter processing time for residency applications compared to other methods. However, each country has its own time requirements. In the case of Malta and Portugal, it takes 6 months to get an EU residence permit. 

5. Tax Implications

When residency status is granted, an individual becomes liable to pay taxes. Some countries offer tax optimization. Investors might pay lower tax income and be exempted from taxes on global income. For example, Malta offers a 5% corporate tax rate, which is considered one of the lowest in Europe. In the case of dual citizenship, it’s always worth considering if the country of residency has tax treaties with the country of origin to avoid double taxation.  

Conclusion 

Obtaining EU residence permits opens up a world of new opportunities for non-EU nationals. The process includes understanding the different types of permits, each with its own requirements and benefits. Investment programs, in particular, are the most effective methods for high-net-worth individuals, offering a range of perks. Several European countries offering residency through investment programs are Malta, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Each of these countries has established well-thought-out programs to attract investors from all over the world. 

Choosing the right investment program might be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. Experts at Mirabello Consultancy have extensive knowledge in the field to assist you with any question.

FAQ

  • What is the easiest EU country to get residency?
    One of the easiest EU countries to get residency in is Greece, opting for the Greece Golden Visa, with minimum requirements and a straightforward process.
  • What is the cheapest permanent residency in Europe?
    Malta has one of the most affordable investments through residency options in Europe. The minimum investment required for purchasing a qualifying property in certain areas of Malta is €300,000, with an additional contribution fee.
  • Which EU country gives the fastest residency?
    The shortest period for obtaining a residence permit is in Spain, while Malta gives permanent residence the fastest.
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