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iWorld / Blog / Greece

How to obtain a residence permit and Greek citizenship by investment

Alexey Nosovsky

Alexey Nosovsky

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

November 19, 2021

19 minutes read

The Greek flag on the background of the coast symbolizes the Greek residence permit for investment

There is a government program, which allows wealthy investors from abroad to obtain a local residence permit, and subsequently citizenship in Greece, that has been successfully operating since 2013.

The essence of the program for obtaining a Greek residence permit by investment is that a foreign investor makes an investment in the national economy for the statutory amount. Investments can be made in real estate, bank deposits, securities or business.

The Greek residence program is characterized by fast processing of the application, as well as by the fact that there is no need to know the history of the country and to live on its territory. In addition, the main applicant can also provide Greek residency for immediate relatives and become a full citizen of the Mediterranean state in the future.

Greece Golden Visa is one of the simplest and legally and economically accessible ways of moving to the territory of EU. Greek residence permit by investment is for representatives of third countries, who have the means to make large investments.

The benefits of a Greek residence permit

Foreigners, who have invested in Greece in order to obtain a local residence permit, get a number of important benefits. The main of them are:

  • visa-free entry to all EU and Schengen countries;
  • Greek citizenship after several years of residing in the country;
  • the ability to use the credit products of European banks;
  • a favorable climate for holidays throughout the year;
  • low crime rate;
  • moderate cost of living in comparison with other developed EU countries;
  • high level of medicine;
  • access to public education;
  • the possibility to obtain a residence permit for family members;
  • right to some types of social support.

Key requirements and conditions

All citizens of third countries, including representatives of the CIS countries, who have the necessary funds to make investments, can become owners of Greece Golden Visa. Restrictions apply only to foreigners with criminal records, as well as those listed in the Register of undesirable persons.

The same legal principles apply in Greece as in other EU countries. Citizenship of this country can be obtained either on the basis of origin (jus sanguinis) or through naturalization. The country has adopted laws on second and multiple citizenship. Holders of the Greek residence permit have the right to reside in the country without temporary restrictions.

Requirements for the investor

Greek law under the Code of Migration and Integration imposes a number of general requirements on the foreign investor, stipulated in the Article 20 of Law 4251/2014:

  • 18 years old or more;
  • no criminal record or other problems with the law;
  • investment in the national economy (purchase of real estate / securities);
  • health insurance;
  • absence of serious illnesses;
  • positive social and business reputation.

A more precise list of requirements for a foreigner, applying for a residence permit in Greece, depends on the chosen investment option.

The required documents

The basic dossier, required for a foreign investor to obtain a Greek residence permit, includes the following documents:

  • application for resident status in 2 copies;
  • 4 up-to-date color photos in electronic or printed form;
  • proof of investment;
  • copy of all pages of the passport with a Schengen visa "C";
  • medical insurance, the cost of which is 300 EUR per person;
  • certificate of no criminal record with an apostille;
  • certificate of no serious infectious diseases, issued by a public medical institution in Greece;
  • Greek tax identification number;
  • proof of payment of the state duty in the amount of 500 EUR per applicant;
  • a printed version of the card, issued through the electronic platform "e-paravolo";
  • certificates of marriage and birth of children (if applicable).

Investment options for obtaining a residence permit

According to statistics and expert opinion, residence permit by the purchase of real estate is the most popular basis for becoming a resident of Greece. The demand for this immigration option is primarily due to the fact, that a foreigner can quickly obtain an ID-card, become the owner of a property and benefit from a facilitated taxation model.

For people who have sufficient free capital, the ideal investment option would be to make a fixed deposit or the purchase of securities. Immigration through the business is suitable for those applicants, who want to scale their business to the pan-European level.

Investment option Minimum amount Time to obtain
Purchase of real estate 250,000 € 2 months
Deposit 400,000 € 3–4 months
Purchase of shares, bonds, units 400,000 € 2–4 months
Investment in business 60,000 € 2 months

Purchase of real estate or a Golden Visa

Foreign citizens can buy real estate in Greece and on this basis obtain the status of temporary residents. This can be done through the Greece Golden Visa Program. The amount of investment possible for any type of property is 250,000 EUR (excluding VAT). If the applicant wants to bring their parents or grandchildren, the cost of purchased housing increases to 500 000 EUR. The number of properties purchased by a foreigner is not limited.

The main requirement for applicants under this program - full or shared ownership of real estate in Greece for 5 years, the total value of which must exceed the minimum investment threshold. In addition to the purchase of residential apartments applicants for a Greek residence permit can rent a 5-year hotel or 10 years of tourist complex for the same 250,000 euros. Residence permit in Greece with the purchase of real estate does not give the investor the right to work. His/her spouse, children under the age of 21 and dependent parents can apply for residence permit together with the main applicant.

Deposit

Applicants for a residence permit have the right to obtain a temporary resident's ID-card by depositing a term deposit of 400,000 EUR or more into an account of a domestic financial institution. Deposit is made by a foreign investor for a period of 1 year, after which it is automatically extended.

Obtaining the status of a resident on the basis of the deposit takes a foreign investor about 3-4 months. After 5 years, the deposit can be closed by transferring the funds to any other bank account.

Purchase of securities and units

In 2019, the Greek Council of Ministers, with its decision number 46440, expanded the number of grounds for foreign nationals to obtain a residence permit. Now, in addition to the purchase of real estate and making a deposit, an external investor can invest personal funds in the amount of 400,000 EUR in Greek securities. Subject to investment are: shares of investment and venture capital companies, units of national investment funds and government bonds with a maturity limit of 3 years at the time of purchase. The investor has the right to sell the securities after 5 years of holding them.

Investment in business

Foreign citizens, who are managers, executives or directors of Greek companies and their subsidiaries, can obtain a residence permit through their business activity. Greek legislation gives foreign businessmen the opportunity to become temporary residents by registering in the territory of the country a JSC with a share capital of 60,000 EUR or an LLC, whose main fund is at least 4,500 EUR.

Subsidiaries, established in Greece by foreign entrepreneurs, are regulated by the Charter of the main companies and pay taxes under the same conditions as Greek firms. Residence permit is granted to foreign businessmen for up to 5 years as long as their companies continue to operate and they fulfill all conditions of the investment program. There are no requirements for the turnover of the branch of a foreign company. An entrepreneur can bring his family to Greece and arrange a residence permit for all its members for an additional 20 000 EUR.

Investor concludes a deal to obtain a residence permit in Greece by investment

Steps of obtaining a Greek residence permit by investment

  • Preliminary legal check
    The applicant finds a company that is ready to provide consulting and legal support. Specialists examine the information provided by the applicant for legal clarity, as well as give an overall assessment of the foreigner's chances of moving to Greece. It usually takes from 1 to 3 working days to check the documents.
  • Choosing an investment option
    Employees of the intermediary company help the foreigner, who has passed a preliminary legal check, to choose the best option for investing money. If the applicant chooses to purchase real estate, they will get help in finding suitable properties for investment. The search for appropriate real estate can take from 7 to 14 days.
  • Preparation of full set of documents
    The representatives of the law firm, whose services are used by the applicant, prepare a dossier for submission to the migration authorities. In the course of preparation, they fill in all necessary forms, translate into Greek, apostille and notary certify all the documents.
  • Submission of the prepared dossier to the authorized body
    In accordance with all the rules, all the documents of the applicant for a Greek residence permit are submitted to the migration authority for official verification by the intermediary. In addition, the lawyers accompany the foreign investor in the submission of the biometric data to the authorized body.
  • Obtaining a residence permit
    After 2 months from the date of application, the foreign investor receives a Greek ID card and becomes a full resident of the country. Personal presence of the applicant for issuing the card is not required, and the foreigner can extend its validity an unlimited number of times. The Greek residence permit is delivered to the investor by post or by courier to the address specified in advance.

Do they give a residence permit to the whole family

In addition to the main applicant, family members can also apply for temporary residence permit in Greece. The Greek legislation allows for a residence permit to be issued to the wife/husband, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of both spouses, who are in full custody of the foreign investor. In addition, the partner of the main applicant, under a common-law marriage contract concluded in Greece, is entitled to a residence permit.

Grounds for refusal of an investor

In some cases, an applicant for a Greek residence permit may be denied temporary residence permit by investment. The list of the main reasons for refusal includes:

  • insufficient financial security;
  • lack of convincing grounds;
  • incomplete dossier;
  • no place of residence in Greece;
  • criminal records and other legal problems;
  • unpaid state fees.

The migration authorities may also have other grounds for refusing an applicant. Their nature will directly depend on the social, political and financial status of each particular applicant.

Other ways to obtain a Greek residence permit

In addition to immigration by investment, the Greek authorities provide foreigners with a number of other ways of obtaining a residence permit.

Education

Foreign students, who have already enrolled in an educational institution in Greece, can apply for a residence permit. In order to enroll in one of the local universities, they will need a high school diploma, as well as the successful passing of the Greek language test. In order to apply for a residence permit, a student must have an invitation from a Greek university, funds for living expenses while studying and a visa. At the end of the studies, the graduate must leave Greece or stay in the country on other legal grounds.

Financial independence

Residence permit in Greece for financially independent persons is quite a popular option. This way of obtaining residence permit is chosen by wealthy foreigners among businessmen, retirees and young people, who work remotely. An important condition for obtaining a residence permit for wealthy migrants is having a stable source of income outside of Greece.

Monthly income of a financially independent person must be at least 2,000 EUR per month. In addition, the main applicant is required to make a deposit of 24,000 EUR for themselves, as well as an additional 20% of this amount for their spouse and 15% for each of their children under the age of 18. This ground for immigration to Greece does not entitle the applicant to work. The applicant for a residence permit must stay in the country for at least 183 days during 12 months. The status of resident is granted to a wealthy foreigner for 2 years, and then can be extended for another 3 years.

Employment

Working in one of the Greek companies can also be a basis for applying for temporary residence permit. However, it is quite difficult for foreigners to get this status in Greece through employment. Local employers give preference to citizens of their country and provide few jobs for expats. The most popular professions among foreigners on the Greek labor market include nurses, caregivers, maids, waiters, welders and mechanics. There is a demand for IT-specialists and financiers among highly qualified specialists in Greece.

A refugee status

Another relevant way to obtain a residence permit in Greece is to apply for refugee status. It is necessary for a foreigner to apply to one of the local police stations upon arrival in the country. The refugee then undergoes a short interview, on the basis of which he or she is issued a "pink card", indicating a request for asylum. The application for a Greek refugee residence permit can be processed by the competent authority within 3 months to a year. The refugee has the right to work in Greece and to apply for citizenship, after obtaining residence permit plus 10 years of residing in the country.

Of all the grounds for obtaining a residence permit for Greece, the most convenient and advantageous is to obtain residence status for an investment. The advantages of this option are as follows:

  • no need to look for an accredited educational institution;
  • no need to look for a suitable job position;
  • more social rights than refugees have;
  • freedom of movement and residing;
  • a guarantee of obtaining citizenship.

Comparison with investment programs of other countries

The most popular programs for foreign investors to obtain a residence permit in the European Union are the Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Maltese.

Investment Program The minimum cost of real estate State fee
Greek 250,000 € 500 €
Portuguese 350,000 € 5,700 €
Spanish 500,000 € 100 €
Maltese 270,000 € 30 000 €

Experts believe that the Greek residence permit program by purchasing real estate is the most profitable for a variety of reasons, including economic. The main factor in its growing popularity can be considered a relatively small amount of minimum investment in real estate. The entry threshold into the Greek program, together with all the state fees is not more than 268 000 EUR, which is 32 000 EUR less than the entry threshold for the second largest investment in the Maltese program.

Obtaining Greek citizenship by investment

Any external investor, who has fulfilled all the conditions of the program for obtaining a temporary/permanent residence permit by investment, and has maintained the status of a resident within the time period prescribed by law, is entitled to become a Greek citizen.

Passports on the Greek flag, they can be obtained after a residence permit in Greece by investment

Requirements for the applicant

A foreigner applying for citizenship should meet a number of requirements, set by the Greek government:

  • 18 years old and over;
  • no criminal record or other serious problems with the law;
  • positive history of visits to Greece;
  • permanent resident status;
  • residing in Greece for 7 years;
  • knowledge of the Greek language;
  • no signs of antisocial behavior;
  • health insurance.

The required documents

The dossier, submitted by a permanent resident of Greece, who has decided to apply for citizenship of this country, must contain the following documents:

  • valid international passport;
  • permanent resident card;
  • proof of state duty payment;
  • application for citizenship;
  • birth certificate;
  • marriage certificate (if necessary);
  • 1 color photo;
  • a copy of last year's income statement;
  • social insurance;
  • certificate of no criminal record.

After the legal examination of the application and the dossier, the foreigner, living in Greece as a permanent resident, will be invited for an interview at the Naturalization Committee. The applicant will be asked to prove his/her knowledge of the Greek language and will also be asked to give a short introduction about himself/herself. The duration of the naturalization procedure is not prescribed by law. The decision of granting citizenship to a resident is published in a newspaper of the Greek government. After that, within 12 months, the foreigner takes an oath and receives a Greek national passport.

The issuance of a residence permit in Greece by investing in the local economy is beneficial in a number of ways. The status of resident allows foreign investor to travel freely in EU, engage in business, receive quality medical care and education, and in the future to become a citizen of Greece. If you consult a competent lawyer and comply with all conditions of the citizenship by investment program, the process of naturalization can be significantly accelerated.

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