Golden Visas were established to assist both the host country and the foreign investor to benefit from the simple principle of inward investment in exchange for residency or citizenship.
Then came large franchised agencies into the bespoke emigration-by-investment market. Driven by ever-increasing sales targets, their local offices began the creative process of accepting clients who should never have been put forward for a Golden Visa. Blind eyes were turned when scrutiny should have been applied.
These unethical practices have damaged Golden Visas, with several countries abolishing the scheme altogether.
Many countries, along with the UK, have “golden visa” schemes, which are distinct from “golden passports” in that they offer only residence permits, rather than citizenship, to investors.
Here are some of the most controversial programmes in recent years.
Citizenship-by-investment In 2017, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb after investigating corruption in Malta, including in the country’s citizenship-by-investment programme. The scheme was relaunched last year and now requires an investment of €600,000-€750,000 along with residence of three years or 12 months, respectively. Applicants must also buy a property in Malta with a minimum value of €700,000 or take out a five-year rental.
Last November, Cyprus scrapped its long-running programme. That same month it emerged that Jho Low, the financier at the centre of the Malaysian 1MDB scandal, used it to obtain Cypriot citizenship in 2015.
Launched in 2007, the scheme granted citizenship to those who invested or bought a property worth a minimum of €2m. Permanent residence was granted to those investing in or buying a property at €300,000.
Tier 1 – investor visa The UK’s investor visa scheme was the most expensive in Europe. In July, the Home Office announced it was launching a review of all investor visas issued before April 2015 over “security concerns”.
Launched in 2008, the scheme is open to individuals willing to invest at least £2m. The scheme was closed in 2022 after the UK decided it was not worth the risk of accepting money that could not be adequately tracked.
The Investor visa or “Golden Citizenship” schemes are the safest and would protect an investor from moral hazards would be the USA & the Australian 188 Visa Scheme.
It is important to find a reputable firm that specialises in global mobility through an investment that is not driven by its bottom line at all costs.