Golden visa

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A "golden visa" is a permanent residency visa issued to individuals who invest, often through the purchase of property, a certain sum of money into the issuing country.


The roots of golden visas have been traced back to the 1980s when tax havens in the Pacific and Caribbean began "cash-for-passport" programs that facilitated visa-free travel and provided tax advantages.[1] For example, in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis began its program which offered not only permanent residency but citizenship to foreign nations.[2]

The issuing of golden visas expanded dramatically during the 21st century with around 25% of all countries issuing such visas as of 2015.[3] Statistics on the issuing of golden visas is scarce but the IMF estimated in 2015 that the vast majority of golden visas are issued to Chinese nationals.[4]

Requirements and issuing[edit]

Golden visas require investments of anywhere from $100,000[5] in Dominica up to £2,000,000 in the U.K.[6]. The most common method for obtaining a golden visa is through the purchase of real estate with a minimum value.[7] "Golden visas" have been especially popular with Chinese nationals, over 100,000 of whom acquired them during the period from 2007 to 2016.[8]

Portugal's golden visa was introduced during the Great Recession in order to help attract investment into the country's housing market. By 2016 the country had issued 2,788 golden visas of which 80% had gone to Chinese nationals.[9]

Some countries such as Malta and Cyprus also offer citizenship ("so-called golden passports") to individuals if they invest a certain sum.[10]


The issuing of so called "golden visas" has sparked controversy in several countries. A lack of demonstrable economic benefits and security concerns have been among the most common criticisms of golden visas. In 2014 the Canadian government suspended their golden visa program (although, as of 2017, Quebec maintains their golden visa program).[11] The golden visas has been criticized by members of the European Parliament for disfavoring the concept of citizenship[12] and in 2014 the European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution that an EU passport should not have a "price tag."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship, Ayelet Shachar, Chapter 35, Citizenship For Sale?, pg. 794, Oxford University Press, 2017
  2. ^ Citizenship is for sale to the wealthy, Malta is among states to offer second passports, easing access to the wider EU,, Vanessa Houlder June 29, 2016,
  3. ^ IMF Working Paper, WP/15/93, Too Much of a Good Thing?: Prudent Management of Inflows under Economic Citizenship Programs, by Xin Xu, Ahmed El-Ashram and Judith Gold
  4. ^ IMF Working Paper, WP/15/93, Too Much of a Good Thing?: Prudent Management of Inflows under Economic Citizenship Programs, by Xin Xu, Ahmed El-Ashram and Judith Gold
  5. ^ "Dominica Citizenship by Investment - Passport Now $100,000".
  6. ^ "UK Tier 1 Investor Visa - UK Residency and Citizenship by Investment".
  7. ^ "Want To Live In Europe? "Buy" A Residency Permit". Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  8. ^ CBS/AP May 12, 2017, 4:42 PM, Chinese investors spent $24B on "golden visas" in U.S. and elsewhere, [1]
  9. ^ Henrique Almeida, Chinese Stuck in Portugal's Visa Limbo, Bloomberg News (January 20, 2016).
  10. ^ Where is the cheapest place to buy citizenship?, By Kim Gittleson BBC reporter, New York, 4 June 2014,
  11. ^ Canada kills investor visa popular with Chinese, by Sophia Yan, March 25, 2014: 2:21 AM ET , CNN, [2]
  12. ^ Buying their way in, Economist 22 november 2014 [3]
  13. ^ Malta’s golden passport scheme draws fresh criticism, Concerns centre on selection of Jersey consultancy to run operation targeted at the wealthy,,