Become a Maltese Millionaire
In 2012, Portugal made a surprising move to fix their property business that had suffered from the financial crisis: the country started to approve visas with a special condition, that the applicant invests half a million in Portuguese property. By the end of 2014, 85% of the 2000 so called Golden Visas approved by Portugal had gone to Chinese investors.
Since then, in addition to Portugal, the Golden Visa has been available in Malta, Spain and most recently in Greece, where the lowest investment price is €250 000.
A bought right inevitably induces anger
A visa guarantees free mobility in 26 Schengen countries. Once a visa recipient has lived in the country long enough he/she can apply for citizenship, though no one is given it automatically. Out of the countries approving Golden Visas, Malta makes an exception; they also have a “Golden Citizenship Program”. By donating €650 000 for Malta´s national development fund as well as investing half a million euros into the state debt and a local property, you will get your citizenship.
These Golden Visas have been criticised for the fact that they are opening the backdoor to shady money income in the EU. Many locals feel it's unfair that precious properties are ending up as business tools for foreigner owners. Politically, the program has not always run smoothly: in 2014 in Portugal a big money laundering and corruption scandal related to visa approvals came to light and led to the resignation of the interior minister at the time.
Push: Golden Visa programs have been criticised for opening the backdoor to shady money.