Limiting Investor Visa Schemes
The member states of the European Commission were encouraged by the EC to control the issuing of investor visas to non-nationals
The reason given was the risks to security. New regulations are expected to be published in September.
According to Vera Jourova, the EC Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, the golden visa schemes in operation throughout Europe are a ‘serious security risk’. Referring to golden visas as golden passports, Jourova likened this to letting ‘Trojan horses into the Union’.
In fact there was a 19 percent increase in citizenships granted between 2015 and 2016. Of those who were granted citizenship of EU countries, about 87 percent were from a non-EU country.
In addition to offering residency, the investment schemes also allowed instant access to the Schengen countries. Jourova and other EU officials were extremely worried about the right to free movement within the EU, making it a safe place” for criminals, corruption and dirty money”.
One example of an EU country offering the scheme is Greece: for third country nationals, a renewable five-year residency permit provided that a property of at least 250,000 euros is purchased or the applicant has a lease in hotel accommodation for at least 10 years. This can also be in tourist facilities if not the hotel accommodation. Because of this, Jourova states that there urgently needs to be new laws against money laundering.
Cyprus has claimed that it will only issue 700 investor visas and currently more cases of deception of those offering to acquire the visas for non- nationals are being brought to attention.