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Obtaining Spanish citizenship through residence permit for investment

Alexey Nosovsky

Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

July 8, 2021

18 minutes read

The Spanish flag symbolizes Spanish citizenship by investment

In order to encourage foreign investment in Spain, Law 14/2013, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and their internationalization, was adopted on September 27, 2013. The legal regulations establish various immigration benefits that can be obtained by a foreigner who has made a significant investment on Spanish territory. According to the UNISTAd report, in 2020 foreign direct investment in the state amounted to 751.5 billion USD. This figure demonstrates that Spain is one of the most attractive countries in Europe for the transfer of funds in exchange for residency.

Spain's Golden Visa program enables foreigners to obtain a residence permit by investing 2 million euro in the country's sovereign debt, investing 1 million euro in bank deposits or shares of Spanish companies, buying real estate worth 500 thousand euro and implementing innovative business projects of interest to the state economy.

Unlike other countries in Spain there is no requirement for the presence of public companies or accredited third parties in the process of obtaining residency. Investor visa does not require permanent residence on Spanish territory, it is sufficient to visit the state for 7 days 1 time a year.

The residence permit entitles the applicant to citizenship by naturalization while maintaining the investment. The TIE (foreigner identity card) is initially issued on the basis of a one-year investor visa for a period of 24 months. In order to extend it for another 5 years, it is necessary to maintain the investment on the basis of which the TIE was obtained.

What does a residence permit in Spain entail?

Temporary residents of Spain are entitled to free movement within the EU without the need to actually reside in the country, as well as visa-free entry into the Schengen Agreement states. In addition, the "golden visa" allows the investor to:

  • renew their residence permit easily and quickly every 2 years;
  • open a business in the jurisdiction of the European Union;
  • get access to favorable mortgage lending;
  • apply for a residence permit for a spouse and children up to the age of 18;
  • apply for permanent residency 5 years after receiving the temporary residence card;
  • apply for Spanish citizenship after 5 years as a permanent resident.

Who can get a Spanish residence permit under the investment program?

Citizens of countries outside the EU, as well as those without close relatives in EU countries can invest in the Spanish economy in order to obtain a residence permit. Residence permit obtained by investment does not limit the freedom of movement of the immigrant and does not require permanent residence in Spanish territory.

At this stage of residency, the investor can keep their first passport. However, according to the law, in the future, if wishing to apply for citizenship in Spain for investment, the former status in their home country will have to be abandoned.

Requirements for the investor

Investors applying for a residence permit in Spain must meet the following requirements:

  • confirm the availability of the necessary amount of funds to make the investment, depending on the option chosen, as well as prove the legitimacy of the origin of the capital;
  • have no criminal record in Spain and in the country of residence for the past 5 years;
  • experience in business or investment management;
  • submit an investment plan, depending on the option chosen;
  • be over 18 years old;
  • have sufficient financial resources to provide for themselves and their family members for the period of their stay in Spain.

Required Documents

A complete list of documents for registration of residence permit depends on the chosen investment option. The basic dossier contains documents such as:

  • the residence permit application form in two copies filled out and signed by the foreigner;
  • foreign passport with a validity period of at least 1 year;
  • certificate of no criminal record issued by the authorities of the country of origin or the countries where the applicant has resided for the last 5 years;
  • bank statements, certified checks or credit cards confirming the availability of funds for the requested period;
  • health insurance policy;
  • a medical certificate confirming the absence of diseases dangerous to society.

Documents must be translated into Spanish, previously legalized or apostilled by the competent authority of the issuing country, in accordance with the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961.

Investment options

There are several ways to get a "golden visa" in Spain, each requiring a certain amount of investment. All options are summarized in the table below.

Investment option Minimum investment
Investing in Spanish sovereign debt 2 MM EUR
Investing in bank deposits or shares of Spanish companies 1 MM EUR
Purchasing real estate 500 M EUR
Implementing a startup According to business plan

According to the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) World Investment Report 2020, the most popular way to invest for immigration purposes is to buy real estate, as minimum conditions apply to this investment option. Foreigners choose lucrative properties in the Madrid region.

Investors are also attracted to invest in the development of financial and insurance services, manufacturing, scientific, professional, technical and administrative activities, wholesale and retail trade, transport and warehousing, as well as the energy sector. The Spanish government provides various incentives to wealthy foreigners, such as subsidies, tax breaks, professional training and access to loans at favorable rates.

When choosing an investment program, consulting groups and migration experts recommend to:

  • analyze changes in the stock markets;
  • consider the purpose of investment (profitability or minimum risk);
  • take into account a long-term perspective for promoting capital;
  • give preference to an object managed by professionals.
To make a deal for a residence permit in Spain

Buy real estate in Spain

Investment in real estate in Spain involves the purchase of one or more residential/commercial properties in any part of the country for an amount not less than 500,000 EUR. Initially, the investor is issued a 365-day immigrant visa, if the purchase is already arranged. In the case of an incomplete transaction residence permit is granted with a period of 6 months, subject to a preliminary agreement with a guarantee of its implementation.

The residence permit and alien's identity card (TIE) is issued for a period of 2 years. To extend it, it is necessary to maintain the investment in the property on the basis of which the original residence permit was obtained.

Investment in sovereign debt

Direct investment in government bills or bonds of the Spanish government in the amount of 2 million EUR or more entitles the investor to obtain a "golden visa". As part of a fixed income, public debt is the safest, since it is maintained at government level. Before making a capital transfer, an investor undergoes a thorough verification of the origin of the invested funds.

Equity investments in Spanish companies or bank deposits

The Spanish residence permit is granted to foreigners who invest an amount of at least €1 million in shares of companies with Spanish capital or social investment funds, as well as closed-end and venture capital funds registered in Spain. A capital transfer of the same amount can be made in the form of bank deposits in financial institutions accredited by the national bank.

Implementation of an innovative business project

Making an investment in a business project in Spain with the creation of jobs and the corresponding contribution to scientific or technological innovation grants the foreigner the status of temporary resident in Spain. In this type of investment, there are no specific requirements for the amount of the investment or the number of jobs created.

The investment is evaluated in terms of the percentage of socio-economic impact of the business on the geographical area in which the economic activity takes place. Each project is always analyzed individually when an immigrant is being considered. Consequently, the most important requirement is the presentation of an appropriate business plan.

In order to start a business, the investor needs to obtain financial accreditation in the form of a favorable report, issued by the economic and commercial department of the Spanish embassy. It is also necessary to pass a business plan review. The experts of the Department of International Trade and Investment assess the candidate's level of education and professional experience, as well as their involvement in the project and the relevance of the business plan, which must contain:

  • description of the business activity to be developed;
  • the project launch date;
  • location of the company;
  • the expected legal form of the company;
  • the potential economic impact of the investment;
  • description of the number of jobs to be created and their functions and qualifications;
  • planned promotional activities and sales strategy;
  • a detailed description of the product or service, which includes innovative aspects;
  • market evaluation and expected development of the project;
  • description of possible potential competitors and an analysis of supply and demand;
  • the amount of investment in Spain, the sources of funds and the financial plan.

Steps for obtaining a residence permit by investment

A foreigner, who plans to obtain a residence permit in Spain by investment, must obtain a residence permit with a validity period of 12 months. After acquiring an annual permit, the investor can apply for residency, valid for 2 years. Residence permit can be extended as long as the investment requirements are met. After 5 years, a temporary resident can apply for permanent residency for 5 years, and after 10 years they can apply for Spanish citizenship.

Depending on the investment option chosen, the procedures for obtaining a residence permit in Spain may vary slightly, but there is a basic algorithm. In order to obtain a residence permit for a foreign investor, it is necessary to go through the following steps:

  • Obtaining an investor visa
    Having prepared the necessary documents for the investment and the basic package containing personal information, the applicant for residency is tested for credibility and applies for a long-term visa at the diplomatic mission of Spain in his country of residence. The investor shall obtain a decision on granting a residence permit in the Spanish territory within 10 business days.
  • Making the investment
    Having obtained a one-year visa, a foreigner opens an account in a Spanish bank and makes a capital transfer, according to the chosen investment option.
  • Submission of documents for residence permit
    After arrival in Spain on an investment visa, the foreigner within 1 year, but not later than 1 month from the date of entry into Spain, can submit a request to the General Directorate of Migration for an initial residence permit.
  • Obtaining a Temporary Resident Card
    The application processing lasts 20 working days, after which the investor receives notification of the decision taken and an invitation to undergo fingerprinting and obtain a foreigner's identity card at the immigration office or at the police station in the province where the permit was issued. The residence permit is issued for two years, renewable if the legal requirements are met.

Procedure for obtaining a Spanish passport

According to Article 22.1 of the Civil Code, people, who have been residing in Spain for a long time, can obtain a Spanish passport. For investors, the period of naturalization is 10 years, 5 of which a foreigner in temporary resident status is not required to reside in Spain. After obtaining a permanent residence permit, one must reside in Spain in order to obtain a second passport.

The steps of obtaining a Spanish passport for investors:

  • Obtaining a residence visa
    After drawing up an investment plan and submitting the necessary documents, foreigners obtain a permit to enter Spain and stay in the country for 1 year.
  • Obtaining a residence permit in Spain
    With an investment visa, applicants for citizenship request a residence permit for investment for a period of 2 years, renewable for another 2 years.
  • Obtaining a Permanent Residence Permit
    Upon the expiry of the residence permit, investors, complying with the legal requirements, apply for a long-term permit, Permanent Resident Status allows them to work and reside in Spain under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.
  • Obtaining a Spanish passport
    If the investor can prove that they have resided permanently in Spane for 5 years in the status of permanent resident, they can apply for Spanish citizenship and passport.

Comparison of conditions with other countries

The concept of "golden visas" refers to residency and citizenship, which are granted to foreigners in exchange for significant investment in the country. Over the past 10 years, the European Union has granted more than 6,000 citizenships and 100,000 residence permits under Golden Visa programs. Popular investment projects in Portugal, Malta and Greece enable non-EU citizens to obtain residence permits, permanent residence permits and citizenship in a relatively short period of time.

Portugal

The state offers one of the most popular residence permit programs for investment. One can obtain residency status in the country if buying real estate worth 500 thousand euros or more. Acquisition of objects that were built over 30 years ago, or requiring reconstruction, will cost from 350 thousand EUR. The property must be owned by the investor for at least 5 years.

An alternative form of participation - investment in the country's economy of 1 million EUR or the establishment of a company that provides at least 10 jobs. In order to maintain the status it is necessary to stay in the country 7 days a year. After the expiration of the 5-year residence permit the investor can apply for permanent residency and after another 1 year they can apply for citizenship of Portugal.

Greece

Greek authorities grant a "golden visa" when buying a property worth 250 thousand euros or more. To renew his residence permit requires that the object remained in the possession of the investor. It is possible to buy a new home at the same minimum amount. The residence card is issued to foreign nationals for 5 years, renewable, with no requirements for permanent residence on Greek territory. After 7 years of permanent residence in the country, the foreigner has the right to apply for Greek citizenship.

Malta

Malta is a country where one can get permanent residency in the shortest possible time. A foreigner may either buy a property worth 350 thousand euros (in Gozo the minimum amount invested is 300 thousand euros), or rent an object worth at least 12 thousand euros (10 thousand in the Gozo) a year. There are no residency requirements. Depending on the amount of investment, the foreigner can become a citizen of Malta in 1-3 years after becoming a resident.

Thus, the fastest way to obtain European citizenship on a "golden visa" is making an investment in Malta. Greece requires less money to invest in order to obtain a second passport. Portugal offers the largest number of investment options.

The Spanish program, in comparison with popular European investment projects, offers broad access to a dynamic economy with thriving business opportunities. Investors who are really interested in moving to Europe, find that Spain is a favorable modern state for making investments. The downside is that the Golden Visa program does not lead to quick citizenship.

Obtaining a residence permit without making an investment

Temporary residence status allows foreigners to stay in Spain for more than 90 days. There are several ways to obtain a Spanish residence permit without making a considerable financial investment.

Family reunification

A foreigner can enjoy the right to family reunification holding a status of permanent resident in Spain. A residence permit can be requested and granted at the same time as the principal candidate's application for permanent residency. In order to obtain a residence permit, the reunifying alien must prove that they have housing and sufficient financial means to cover their needs.

Temporary residence and employment of foreign women, victims of gender-based violence

Foreign women who are victims of gender-based violence are granted the right to reside and work under exceptional circumstances from the moment a protection order is issued in her favor or, if not, from a prosecutor's report indicating evidence of gender-based violence. At the time of application, the foreigner can also request a residence permit for her underage children.

Residence permit for study and research activities

A foreigner who performs a non-working activity in Spain can obtain a residence permit. The validity of the residence permit in this case is limited to the period of education or the duration of the research project. Foreign students in Spain have the right to work or volunteer in their spare time.

Residence Permit, Work Permit

Foreigners over the age of 16 have the right to obtain a residence and work permit to carry out any paid, occupational or professional activity. The validity of the residence and work permit depends on the social security registration.

If a foreign national intends to work independently or for an employer, in a profession that requires special qualifications, the granting of the permit will depend on the availability and confirmation of the relevant specialty.

All of these options for obtaining a residence card, unlike the "golden visa" require good reasons and extensive evidence for granting a residence permit, as well as have a limited validity period. Methods of obtaining a residence permit without investment require passing a test in the Spanish language and the need to stay in the country for 183 days during a year to maintain status. In this aspect, the investment immigration program offers a number of advantages:

  • allows to work and reside in Spain without a work permit;
  • it does not oblige one to be a tax resident;
  • it allows to be away from Spain for a long period of time without losing the residence permit status;
  • makes it possible to apply for a residence permit in Spain at the same time as all family members;
  • paves the way to Spanish citizenship by residence;
  • has a longer validity period;
  • the residence permit can be applied for outside of Spain.
The Spanish flag symbolizes a residence permit in Spain by investment

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I speed up the processing of my Spanish citizenship?

    After 1 year or more from the date of application for Spanish citizenship, without satisfying the request, applications may be considered rejected due to administrative silence. In such cases, lawyers file an appeal due to the lack of response to the request for Spanish citizenship. This is a legal process that is initiated before the Spanish National Court. In this way, an acceleration of the process of applying for Spanish citizenship is achieved. The processing time of the administrative file, which is processed by the Ministry of Justice, after the judicial process, can take 20 days or more.
  • When is the Spanish residence permit issued when buying a property?

    The processing time for an investor visa application is 10 working days from the date of submission to the Consulate General of Spain. After the submission of a dossier on the granting of a residence permit with proof of intent to buy a property in Spain, the examination of the documents for a residence permit takes 20 days. The production of the investor card takes up to 30 days.
  • Duration of the "golden visa"

    Investor visa is valid for 365 days, during which it is necessary to apply for a residence permit. Residence permit in Spain is issued to the investor for 24 months with the right to renew for another 2 years.
  • Does the Spanish residence permit for investment cover family members?

    Yes. The spouse, common-law partner, dependent children up to the age of 26, and parents can apply for temporary residency along with the principal applicant.
  • Is it necessary to confirm the origin of funds?

    No. Proof of origin of invested funds is not required.

The Golden Visa program in Spain is the easiest way to naturalize in a developed and promising European country. The Spanish government aims to attract foreign investors to the country, so the simplicity and the shortest time for registration of the status is controlled at the state level. The program was launched back in 2013 during the economic crisis. The disintegration of the economy led to the adoption of the law "On Entrepreneurs and their Internationalization," which is the legal basis for today's "golden visas" of Spain.

The main tasks of the investor are to choose an investment program that is suitable for achieving their specific goals, as well as to compile a proper package of documents. Immigration experts recommend entrusting these tasks to experienced lawyers to make a profitable investment and obtain a prestigious immigration status in Europe.

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