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Best Golden Visa Countries

Considering an investment-based pathway to residency or citizenship? Golden Visas offer powerful travel documents with visa-free access to many countries, but they also come with significant investment thresholds and residency requirements. While these programs can be beneficial for some, they’re not suitable for everyone.


What is a Golden Visa and why get one?

A golden visa is a residence by investment program where applicants can gain temporary residency or citizenship by investing in the country’s economy. The Golden visa programs offer a pathway for high-net-worth individuals to gain residency or citizenship through investment. The minimum investment is usually between €250,000 to €2 million depending on the country. Each country sets specific requirements regarding eligible investment types and amounts. Explore different program options, thoroughly assess the risks and costs, and consider seeking professional guidance before making a decision.

Before you proceed:

Remember: Golden visas are complex and significant financial decisions. Do your research, seek expert advice, and make an informed choice that aligns with your personal goals and values.

Golden visas provide several highly appealing benefits:

Top Golden Visa programs

Dozens of countries around the world offer golden visa programs, but within Europe some destinations stand out in 2024 based on investment requirements, processing times, and overall value. Other in-demand European programs like Greece and Spain have kept investment thresholds low while touting benefits like expedited processing and family unification. For all the criticism, golden visas continue to entice high-net-worth individuals in search of residency, travel freedom, and eventual citizenship in the EU’s most beautiful destinations.

While European nations pioneered golden visa programs, countries across the globe now offer options centered on investment:

Australia – The Australian permanent residency program requires an investment of AUD 2.5 million in exchange for residency rights down under.

Austria – Austria’s program offers German speakers EU residency and access to the Schengen Area starting at €1 million.

Canada – Canada’s startup visa program provides residency to global entrepreneurs seeking to launch ventures and access the North American market.

Cyprus – The Cyprus permanent residence program requires €300,000 invested in real estate in exchange for residency in the Mediterranean island nation.

Greece – Greece’s golden visa requires just €250,000 in real estate for a residence permit within two months and Schengen access.

Hong Kong – Hong Kong offers multiple residence options with access to mainland China for those looking east.

Italy – Italy provides Schengen access for visa-free European travel with a €250,000 real estate investment and no permanent residency requirement.

Jersey – The Jersey residence program offers an ideal base to access Europe with its flight connections starting at around £2 million.

Latvia – Latvia’s residence program starts at €60,000 with no residency requirement for access to the EU.

Luxembourg – Luxembourg residence can be obtained in six months with a minimum €500,000 investment for access to the EU.

Malaysia – Malaysia offers long-term multiple entry visas through its second home and premium visa programs starting at RM1 million.

Malta – Malta’s permanent residence program provides Schengen access and EU rights for a €350,000 property investment.

Mauritius – Mauritius offers residency with a $500,000 investment providing a base to access the island’s dynamic markets.

Monaco – Monaco residency starts at €1 million for those seeking the premium European lifestyle on offer.

Montenegro – Montenegro requires €250,000 invested in development projects for residence and access to the EU market.

New Zealand – New Zealand’s investor visa requires NZD 3 million invested over 4 years for residency rights and a high living standard.

Panama – Panama provides residence within 6 months for those investing at least $200,000 in real estate or bank CDs.

Portugal – The Portuguese golden visa requires just €350,000 invested in real estate. With easy access to the Schengen Area, it remains the most popular program worldwide.

Singapore – Singapore’s global investor program offers residence for those investing SGD 2.5 million in selected funds or businesses.

Spain – Spain’s golden visa program requires €500,000 in real estate for a fast-track to residence and freedom to live and work across the EU.

Switzerland – Switzerland requires a CHF 1 million lump sum or CHF 150,000 annual taxes for residence in the sought after European nation.

Thailand – Thailand offers 5 to 20 year residence for as little as THB 3 million for a comfortable base in Southeast Asia.

United States – The US EB-5 visa offers permanent green cards in exchange for a $900,000 investment and job creation in just 12 months.

There are additional programs across Europe in countries like Switzerland, United Kingdom, Montenegro, and more. Golden visas offer paths to residency and citizenship through investment in developed, stable European nations.

How to apply for a golden visa

The first step is to choose a country and understand the investment requirements, such as amount and type of investment like real estate or government bonds. Once you select a program, you need to gather the required application documentation such as:

1. Select your country and investment – With the help of a qualified agent, you can choose the best golden visa program based on your needs, desired country, timeline, and investment budget. Popular options are real estate or government bonds.

2. Gather required documents – Work with your agent to collect all the required supporting materials like passports, birth/marriage certificates, bank statements, investment funds evidence, health insurance, and background police check.

3. Submit your application – Your completed golden visa application is submitted in-person to the embassy or consulate of your country of choice. This is done along with the supporting documents.

4. Undergo due diligence – The embassy will verify the validity of the application, conduct background checks, validate your investment, and ensure proof of funds.

5. Get approval and issuance – If accepted, you will receive your golden visa within the processing time of that country. Some issue within 2 months while others take 4-6 months for approvals.

6. Make first entry within 90 days – To activate the visa, you must enter the country within 30-90 days from issuance or risk having to reapply.

7. Maintain requirements – Comply with any ongoing requirements like keeping your investment and minimum stay to continue renewing your visa status.

Reputable agents like AptCitizenships can support you through every step, improving your chances of application success.

Rising backlash

Golden visa programs have recently faced escalating criticism amid heightened global tensions. The Investment Migration Council, an investment migration lobby, contends these programs help transport people from “unfree countries to free ones”. But for Western regulators, there are concerns the visas provide a backdoor for investors to bypass sanctions.

The programs have enabled wealthy Chinese and Russian immigrants to expatriate money abroad. When the US expanded Russia sanctions in 2022 after the Ukraine invasion, a Biden official characterized golden passports as a “loophole” for affluent, Kremlin-tied Russians to access foreign financial systems and citizenship.

The European Commission has warned these passports raise money laundering, tax evasion, and security risks. In certain cases they may even violate EU law. While advocates argue golden visas offer refuge, critics increasingly blast the programs for potentially enabling oligarchs and abetting corruption. The brewing geopolitical turmoil has cast golden visas in an increasingly controversial light worldwide.


Who’s eligible for a Golden Visa?

Golden Visas are reserved for high net worth individuals outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland over 18 who can furnish clean records, legally sourced funds, and meet program criteria. Prime candidates have ample liquid assets and a clean background.

What’s the fastest route to citizenship?

Turkey’s citizenship by investment program processes quickly, typically within months, for those who make a substantial qualifying purchase. Malta also provides one of the fastest tracks at around one year.

What Countries offer free citizenship?

Virtually nowhere grants free citizenship except by birthright, ancestry, asylum or long-term residency. Some countries offer citizenship after meeting residency requirements for a number of years.

What’s the price range for a Golden Visa?

Costs vary widely by country – some EU programs start in the several hundred thousand Euro range for real estate or other investments, plus fees. Annual renewals are also required in most cases.

Which EU country Is the easiest for a Golden Visa?

Some EU countries like Greece offer options starting at investment thresholds on the lower end for the region. Quick processing and visa-free EU access add to the appeal.

Does the U.S. have an investor Visa program?

Yes, the U.S. EB-5 investor visa provides conditional residency through substantial business investment and job creation requirements.

Which countries ended Golden Visa programs?

Citing risks, Montenegro, Ireland, UK and others suspended programs in recent years. But for eligible applicants, golden visas remain a fast track to residency or citizenship in many developed nations.