Spain Steps in as Europe’s Second-Largest Residency Provider - Without Effort
It’s been almost seven years since the Spanish government passed the Law 14/2013 of Support For Entrepreneurs And Their Internationalisation. In the first half of 2019, Spain granted residency to 848 applicants making it the second country in the EU by the number of approved Residency by Investment applications. Greece still leads the game with its highly attractive property investment option.
Whereas a country’s investment migration policy would concern birth citizens of Portugal, Greece or Malta, Spaniards still know very little of the Spanish Residency by Investment programme and the global migration market per se.
Neighboring Portugal where Residency by Investment was launched in 2012 had the backing of both the government and the public. The Portuguese officials factored in the industry interests and investor preferences. This resulted in an influx of investment into Lisbon, Porto and other regions, with Asian and Brasilian investors at the forefront of the programme.
In Spain, investment migration seems to escape public attention. In fact, most agencies in charge of the programme view Residency by Investment as just one of the components of their wider portfolio. Why is Spain so largely oblivious of its residency route? First and foremost, the revenues from the programme are still a drop in the ocean in terms of the country’s GDP.
Most investors opt for real estate purchase, yet they still make little difference in the market. 88 percent of properties in Spain are acquired by Spaniards. At that, 84 percent of foreign buyers come from other EU/EEA countries.
Another reason why Spain makes little effort to boost its Residency by Investment is the country’s global recognition. It’s a destination that requires no introduction, unlike Spain’s smaller European competitors. Somehow, the Spanish Residency programme remains highly demanded without any proactive approach or governmental incentives. Spain is Spain and it takes its popularity for granted.
At that, Spain offers fast permit processing. The maximum term is legally set at 20 working days. If no decision is made within these 20 days, the residence permit is deemed granted by tacit assent. The country also allows for lower application fees. While other EU member states may change thousands of euros per application, the Spanish fee is just around 80 EUR per person.
From the business perspective, Spain is a key to Latin American and African markets. Setting up shop in Spain or acquiring an active local enterprise unlocks extra perks to the investors, such as dual taxation agreements with Latin-American countries.
The factors that slow down the programme development include lower priority attached to the matter by the Spanish law-makers and a fairly long mandatory residence period. One day, the authorities may embrace a proactive approach following the Portuguese lead and enable more real estate and venture capital options to investors. In that case, Spain’s accidental success in the migration sector may turn into a well-deserved and unrivalled market hegemony.
Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including UK, Turkey, Vanuatu, EU & the Caribbean.
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