Golden Visa Spain: Investor Program Explained - Getting Spanish Residency and Citizenship in 2021

Golden Visa and Spanish citizenship by real estate Investment. What do you need to know for obtaining it in 2021. How much does it cost and how long does it take to get. Get the Complete List of required documents for Free.

1. What is Spanish Golden Visa?

Nowadays Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Many strive not only to spend vacation there, but to stay a bit longer. The fourth largest and the sixth most populous country in Europe welcomes newcomers of various social status.

Despite the fact that there are many legal ways to acquire a residence in Spain, for example, by settle, on the basis of marriage or study, two options are the most popular and real — a residence permit on the basis of long-term residence in Spain or real estate ownership, and the "Gold Investor Visa".

With the introduction of special state programs in Europe that allow obtaining a residence permit for investments in the economy, an unofficial name of a "Golden Visa" has arrived.
Golden Visa
In fact, it is not related to traditional visas and it is more correct to call this document a "Golden Residence Permit".
Basically, these programs were introduced the EU in 2013. Some have already stopped working — as a program for registration of the "golden" residence permit of Hungary. While in Spain you can still apply for it.

Among the most active participants of the Spanish investor visa program are Chinese and Russian nationals. "Golden Visa" is not only a residence permit. Each year, experts record the growth in sales and prices of real estate in Spain. This means that when buying Spanish property, wise entrepreneurs increase the capitalization of their possessions, providing themselves with a potential source of passive income by renting out.

2. What is a Spanish Golden Visa program?

This type of accommodation offers an easy and attractive route to Spain for wealthy people. "Golden Visa" came in force on the 28th of September 2013 and was designed for non-residents of the European Union. Namely, for those who invest in the country, conduct business and professional activities.

In recent years, the conditions for obtaining the "Golden Visa" of an investor in Spain have undergone significant changes towards simplification, especially with a law update in 2015. In particular, the innovations provided for new opportunities for both the investor and the members of his/her family.

Investment for Golden Visa

To get Golden Visa, you may invest in Spanish economy in several ways.
Buy Spanish real estate for no less than 500,000 EUR. What is more, there may be several properties, for example, 2 apartments in any city of Spain, with a total value of 500,000 EUR. A joint purchase is allowed, but the share of each applicant for a "Golden Visa" should be at least half a million euros.
Invest 2,000,000 EUR in Spanish government bonds or 1,000,000 EUR in local companies' shares or an investment fund. If you do not want to risk and participate in the financial twists and turns, you can simply make a deposit in a Spanish bank in the amount of 1,000,000 EUR.
And thirdly, you can offer the Spanish authorities a promising business plan of a relevant socio-economic impact. You can read more about it in a following article.
Mandatory condition: the legality of the funds and the transparency of their sources!
Investment can be made both by physical and by legal individual. Legal person must not be located in a place of tax heaven, according to the Bank of Spain (American Samoa, Barbados, Bahrain, Bahamas, Guam, South Korea, Macao, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates).

Requirements to get Golden Visa

If you've decided to invest in the economy of Spain, then having the necessary amount of money or approved business project may be not enough. In this case, the candidate must meet several additional requirements:
Non-EU national of a legal age.
No criminal record (and 5 years prior), as well as established violations of the visa regime with Spain or another EU country.
Evidence of the preservation of rights to real estate declared as an investment at the time of application.
Have a sufficient amount of money (at least 2130 EUR per month for the investor + 532 EUR for each applicant's family member requesting the visa).

Fees and taxes you pay for Spanish Golden Visa

Most likely, you will need a lawyer to process documents for a Golden Visa. We advise you to allocate approximately 7000-8000 EUR for a family application. You will also need to pay 70 EUR government fee for each family member for a processing of your documents.

Allocate approximately 12% of the value of your property on taxes and other costs associated with registration of your new home. If you would like to learn more on how much does it cost to buy a property in terms of taxes, please follow this link.

Can you bring your family by Golden Visa to Spain

Together with the investor, family members who are financially dependent on him or her can apply for a "Golden Visa". Official spouse or common-law spouse (same-sex partner included), children under 18 years (or older, if dependent) and parents, if dependent. All of them have the right for family reunion and can apply for visa the same time as the applicant. Relatives will receive a visa of the same category and will be able to reside in Spain with similar rights.

Living and working opportunities with Golden Visa

Now an investor visa provides the right not only to reside, but also to work in Spain. Previously, the right to work was provided only after the investor received a residence permit with the corresponding right. Those, who reside in Spain on permanent basis, have the right to public healthcare and schools. Nevertheless, you will also need a medical insurance to renew the documents and assure the full coverage of possible expenses.

Traveling with Golden Visa

Golden Visa allows you to freely travel throughout the Schengen area, and to live in Spain during the entire period of its validity without any restrictions. With this visa, it is much easier to obtain citizenship of Spain.

3. How to obtain Golden Visa in Spain?

First and foremost, the list of documents you need to prepare to apply for Golden Visa:
Passports of every person that request visa (they must be valid for 6 months from the date of issuance of the Golden Visa.)
2 photographs 35x45 mm
NIE. In case you do not have one, please read here, how to get it
Confirmation of investment (preliminary contract, deed of sale, etc that is notarized)
Confirmation of sufficient financial status to accommodate the investor (and his family, if applicable) for 2 years. At least 2130 EUR per month (for the investor) + 532 EUR for each applicant's family member requesting the visa. To prove it, you should provide bank statement for last 12 months
Certificate of no criminal record issued for the last 5 year in the country of residence. It should be translated by a certified translator and legalized
Proof of kinship, marriage certificate and the birth certificate of children (under the age of 18 and / or on the condition that adult children are supported by their parents and are not married) if the residence permit is also requested for family members. Every document should be translated and legalized
Process of obtaining a Golden Visa:
Obtaining a D visa for a year at the Spanish Consulate (If you do not have a valid tourist visa. Now this process is optional).
Applying for a 2-year residence in Madrid.
Fingerprinting at the foreign office in police at the place of registration of your property and issuing 2-year residence cards for you and your family members, if required.
Process of obtaining Golden Visa for property investors – the most popular way:
You fly to Spain and search for a property that costs more than 500,000 EUR. If you need a mortgage, you can obtain one, but the half-of-the-million part should be covered right away from your pocket, as this is an obligatory requirement for the Golden Visa.
Under the new law, you can apply for the Golden Visa directly after the signing of the contract of intent (contrato de arras). That is, the transfer of money for the purchase of real estate in Spain from 500,000 euros and the signing of the contract (deed of sale/escritura) may be carried out later. However, in this case, the applicant will need to confirm the availability of the necessary amount for the transaction and the payment of taxes, which he or she should have in one of the Spanish banks. Here you can read more about how to open a bank account and transfer money.
After all documents are submitted, the applicant will be issued a six-month visa to conclude the transaction, sign the deed of sale and pay taxes, upon which the investor has the right to apply for a residence permit for a 2-year period. Then you can keep renewing your Golden Visa unless you have the property for half a million euros. After a 2-year permit you can require a 5-year residence as many times, as you need. If you sold your previous property, at the time of renewal you will have to present the existence of a new one of a required sum.
Now, if the investor is legally residing in Spain and invests money in the sectors stipulated by the program, he or she can apply directly for a residence permit, without having to leave the country and apply for a six-month visa in the Spanish consular offices of his/her country.
You can apply for a two-year resident card only in Madrid during the validity of the visa and 90 days from the date of its expiration. It is important to know that after the expiration of a granted period, the right to request a residence for a performed investment is lost forever.

Can you get a mortgage to get a Golden Visa?

To qualify for a residence permit through real estate investments, the mandatory part of the property (500,000 EUR) must be purchased without attracting a mortgage. An important condition is that the amount is transferred from the own funds, without lenders. And the amounts exceeding the initial mandatory 500,000 EUR for each adult applicant can be acquired with a mortgage or other loan. For example, if a villa costs 800,000 EUR, you can take a mortgage of 300,000 EUR, and the remaining amount (+ taxes and administrative costs) must be paid from your pocket right away. Learn more about mortgage in Spain here.

4. A law for entrepreneur and capital investors

Law for entrepreneurs: official information
Internationalisation of the Spanish Economy
Law to support entrepreneurs and their internationalisation

Golden Visas for business matters are issued only in case there is a business plan of a positive socio-economic impact on the geographical zone where it will be carried out, bringing a significant advantage in technological or scientific innovation, and providing new jobs for residents. This business project should be submitted to the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in Dubai (UAE) for evaluation. If the decision will be positive, the issued report should be taken to the Embassy as the ground for obtaining a visa.

There are also tax incentives for new businesses for 2 years after a positive 1st year. Corporate Income Tax: reduced rate of 15%. Personal Income Tax: reduced on 20% on net gain.

Law for capital investors: official information
Support to entrepreneurs and investors

To obtain Golden Visa by this means, you should invest 2,000,000 EUR in Spanish government bonds or 1,000,000 EUR in local companies' shares or an investment fund, or open a deposit in a Spanish bank in the amount of 1,000,000 EUR. This investment should be made no later than 60 days prior to the visa application.
This investment will be confirmed for a visa purpose by the following documents:
If investing in shares of non-public companies, a certificate issued by the "Registro de Inversiones Exteriores dl Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad".
If investing in public companies, certificate of a registered broker.
If investing in bonds, a certificate issued by a bank or the Bank of Spain authorizing the investment for minimum period of 5 years.
If opening a deposit, a bank certificate.

5. How to get Spanish citizenship?

Golden Visa is not designed to automatically grant you with a citizenship. You can become a Spanish citizen only after living in Spain legally for at least 182 days every year during the 10-years period. In total it is 4 years and 2 months spent in Spain.

The prepared list of documents should be submitted to the registry office at the place of registration in Spain or sent via the online form on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

Documents required when applying for citizenship on the basis of a residence permit:

  • application;
  • a card of a foreign citizen / family member of an EU citizen or a certificate of registration in the Central Register;
  • registration certificate;
  • passport;
  • birth certificate translated and legalized;
  • a criminal record in the country of origin, translated and legalized;
  • documents confirming the material solvency of a citizen in Spain;
  • confirmation of payment of state duty;
  • DELE diploma confirming the level of knowledge of the language.

Spanish law does not deny dual citizenship. This means that a person applying for Spanish citizenship will not be required to renounce his previous citizenship: both will be recognized equally. But this is possible only in relation of citizens of those states with which Spain has concluded relevant bilateral agreements, as well as citizens of Latin America, where the official languages are Spanish or Portuguese, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Portugal.

At the same time, Spanish law provides grounds for the cancellation of citizenship. Such a decision will be made if a person during 3 years after receiving Spanish citizenship used his previous one, entered the military service or took a public post outside Spain. It can also be revoked in case the false data was provided for obtaining it.

Spanish passport

The fact of obtaining citizenship of a state obliges a newly-made citizen to the implementation of his laws. So, an investor planning to conduct his business in Spain will need to take into account the peculiarities of Spanish taxation, which may differ significantly from that in the country of his previous citizenship. In Spain, the taxation is progressive - the rate varies from 19% to 45%.
Spanish passport
The holder of a Spanish passport will receive significant freedom of movement around the world.
According to the Henley & Partners Index, currently Spain is 4th in the ranking of freedom of movement, allowing visa-free access to 185 countries.

Benefits of owning a Spanish passport:

Living in an economically developed, stable country of the European Union
Possibility of traveling and moving into any EU country for permanent residence
Doing business, working in prestigious companies in Europe
Studying in the best European universities
High standard of living, reasonable cost of living
Quality medicine
Low interest rate loans and mortgages

6. How to get Spanish residency?

EU/EEA citizens moving to Spain will need to register at the Foreign Office or Migration office and get the NIE. You will get the NIE together with the registration certificate. You should get a "cita previa" here to schedule your appointment at the relevant authority.

To register you have to prepare the following documents:

  • Passport/ID
  • Proof of income/financial statement
  • Health insurance
  • Reason for living in Spain (employment/self-employment/ eucation, etc.)

As a result, you will obtain a residence certificate (Certificado de registro como residente comunitario). The list of documents can be adjusted to applicant's circumstances.

The citizens of the European Union have a right of free movement and residence in Spain, fulfilling a series of requirements. But if your country is not a member state of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, there are several cases when you can apply for your residence permit in Spain. The most common among them are:

  • Golden Visa for investment or starting a business in Spain
  • Residence permit when buying property in Spain
  • Family reunion
  • Studying in Spain
  • Marriage with a citizen of Spain
  • Refugee
  • Work
  • Residency Relocation

Also, in case of special circumstances you can request a residency if you have Spanish roots, for humanitarian reasons, if you are a victim of gender violence, etc.

Spanish residency permits for property investors

A residence permit in Spain for investors is a perfect option for those who have long dreamed to move to Spain and have all the required means for this.

There are two options that depend on the budget:

  • A residence permit based on investment (an investor's Golden Visa) is given when you spend on property at least 500,000 euros without involving a mortgage on this minimal sum, as we already mentioned.
  • A residence permit for financially independent individuals, in fact it is a residence permit without the right for work, that is called Visado de Residencia no Lucrativa. It is issued for buying a house for any amount, or for a long-term renting (2 years and more), and when confirming the income of the applicant in amount of 400% IPREM index (approximately 28,000 EUR in 2019, and for each family member – 7,000 EUR).

Obviously, the second option is more affordable if you seek to obtain a residence permit (and later a citizenship) in Spain through the purchase of property.

You should also keep in mind the following about the residence permit:

After you get it, you will need to stay in Spain for no less than 182 days per year (if you are not sure that you will be able to spend 6 months in Spain, then in case you need a visa, an ordinary multivisa with a stay of 90 days in six months will be enough).
The extension scheme is the following: you get a residence permit, then extend it in 1 year, then two times after 2 years, then after 5 years. Then you may acquire a citizenship (after 10 years of legal residency).
It will be necessary to confirm the availability of funds each time a residence permit is renewed.
The applicant should not have a criminal record.
You can't have an official job in Spain (this residence permit assumes that it is issued for financially independent individuals who already have a source of income).
You can conduct business in Spain (in a role of founder or investor).
You can ask for a residence permit for your family members.
On average, the timing for issuing of such a residence is 4 to 6 months.
This is the most popular legalization option among home buyers in Spain, as it does not require great investments in real estate.

Distinction between Investor Residency Visas and Residency Permits

According to the law, investor residency visa can be issued for a person that seeks to reside in Spain for 1 calendar year. If an investor wants to reside in Spain more, he or she should apply for a residency. By this, investor may stay in Spain 2 years in a row and then apply for a 5-year residency with an infinite renewal option. After 10 years of permanently staying in Spain, investor can opt for a citizenship.

In case of residency permit, the investor should maintain his or her investments in order to renew the residency. If the investor has sold the property and is not going to re-purchase for the required amount before the residence is renewed, in this case the residence will not be extended, and the investor will have to leave the country. Additionally, in order to get residency permit, a person should travel to Spain at least once during the validity of current visa and be able to prove it (tickets/stamps). Last but not least, you should cover all current taxes not to have any negative decision of a migration authority. Whereas all of these is not required for investor visa.

Residency in Spain for non-EU citizens

As we already mentioned, the most popular reasons for getting residency in Spain, including for non-EU citizens, are the following:
Golden Visa for investment or starting a business in Spain.
Residence permit when purchasing real estate in Spain.
Family reunion.
Studying in Spain.
Marriage with a citizen of Spain.
Refugee status.
Work purpose.
Naturalization? (On basis of settlement).
The first two cases we have already discussed, let's look at the remaining six.
Family reunion
You can ask for a permanent residence, and then become a citizen of Spain if your parent or grandparent is Spanish by birth, if your close relative obtained a citizenship or a residence permit that allows to join relatives, if you are or have children born in Spain.
The school or university must possess a certificate from the Ministry of Education of Spain.

Type of studies can vary:

  • school;
  • language school;
  • university;
  • any classes or courses that can issue an invitation for a foreigner, etc.

Student residence permits are prolonged each year till the end of studies. This residence permit allows students to work no more than 20 hours per week. After 3 years of residing for a studying reasons, it is possible to request a residence permit with the right to work full time. After obtaining a residence permit with the right to work and after five years, you may ask for a permanent residence.
In case of marriage with a Spaniard you are allowed to apply for a residence permit and get citizenship and permanent residence in the shortest possible time. In a year you can apply for Spanish citizenship.

If you are going to get married in Spain, you will need to contact the registry office at the place of residence of your future spouse. The list of necessary papers for registration of marriage may vary depending on the regional requirements.

If you want to marry in the place of your citizenship, you should apply to the registry office in your country. Documents of a citizen of Spain required for the registration of marriage should be translated from Spanish into your language and notarized (sometimes legalized!). Then you should apply to the Spanish foreign office and hand in documents for issuing a resident card, and then for a citizenship.
Refugee status
Permanent residence in Spain after receiving refugee or political asylum status is possible both upon arrival in the country and at the country's embassy in the territory of another state. The grounds for such a status are the 1951 Geneva Conventions and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. BUT! You need to have a good reason to request this status (see the refugee status criteria here). In short, you must have documents confirming the reason for asylum, the evidence of political persecution or oppression.

Refugee status gives you all the rights of a Spanish citizen, without the possibility of participating in elections. The process of receiving this status may take from 6 months to several years.

You need to have all documents proving the identity, to be a well-behaved citizen.
Work purpose
One way to obtain a long-term visa for work purpose, and then a residence permit with the right to work, is to conclude a contract.

Highly-qualified specialists have chances to get the EU Blue Card, which is issued according to a simplified procedure if a person meets some requirements. The main among them is having a diploma in the field that is in demand in Spain.

In order to leave for Spain as an invited specialist, you must sign a contract with an employer, which is registered by the Spanish Ministry of Labor. If you work in one of these areas, you have good opportunities to move to Spain for work:

  • IT
  • Science
  • Chemical industry
  • Some engineering industries
On basis of settlement (Naturalization?)
Previously, almost every person who came to Spain and stayed there for more than 3 years were allowed apply for citizenship. In the past year and a half, for many foreign citizens, the method of settling for three years no longer works.

For some foreign citizens from the Schengen zone there are concessions, but they do not apply to residents of the countries of the former Soviet Union. In order to get the opportunity to obtain permanent residence by settling, a non-EU citizen will have to live in Spain for more than 10 years.
Also, do not forget that Spain recognize dual citizenship only with a short list of countries, mainly Latin American countries and Portugal.

7. Conclusion

The lawyers of the company will be happy to help with the preparation of documents for obtaining a residence permit. The cost of our services starts from 3000 EUR per applicant, family members get a 50% discount. Initial consultation on Golden Visa is free of charge.

Additionally, our experts can help you in obtaining a Golden Visa without the need for your personal presence in Madrid. We will verify compliance with all deadlines and formalities, we will also interact with migration authorities and respond to their requests.

What do you get if you use our service of assistance with Golden Visa:

Control over the process at all stages and tracking application statuses;
Consultation and verification of required documents;
Translation of documents;
Filling in all questionnaires and forms;
Assistance in issuing a certificate from the property register;
Registration and escort to the consulate;
Payment of all requested fees, some services may require additional costs;
Anything else the process may require!
All processes take place online, and your personal presence or the presence of your family members is only necessary at the consulate when submitting documents and obtaining a visa, as well as fingerprints, which is a final stage. Remote paperwork through our company significantly saves time and money on flights. Waiting time depend on the speed of processing a visa request at the consulate. On average – 3 to 4 months.
Thank you for your attention! For more information please contact the managers of our agency. It is our pleasure to assist you on a way to your dream!
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