According to the popular press, by 2020 EU investor visa programs will have changed so much that they will effectively be no more. This news is not unexpected; however, they are demising faster than expected. Exciting new programs are coming to replace them, however.

The European Commission voted to adopt the TAX3 Committee’s February report ‘Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance’ which calls for the phasing out of residence and citizenship by investment programs in Europe. Since then, the Commission has been proactive in taking decisive action, and the first meeting of the group of EU Member State experts on Investor Citizenship and residence schemeswas held in Brussels on 5thApril. In less than eight months, the group aims to develop a common set of security checks and risk management processes of residence and citizenship by investment programs.

Recommendations resulting from the Commission’s efforts will likely be rigorous, and taken into serious consideration. Moreover, it may follow that existing Investor Visa holders will undergo the same rigorous checks when applying for visa renewals. In short, Investor Visas are likely to change so much that they are rendered impracticable.

The question is therefore raised regarding what may replace them. EU states are increasingly offering programs that deliver immediate and sustainable economic benefits to a broad range of local actors. The Netherlands, France and Austria, among others, offer highly structured start-up visa programs which are aimed at entrepreneurs with high-potential business ideas.

All three of these nations, like other EU states, also offer investor visa programs that require a significant capital outlay and demonstrable routes to job creation. In January this year, The Government of Portugal received a proposal to launch a Green Visa, which encourages investment in clean and green technology. Furthermore, for those seeking a lower capital outlay than investor programs and less time commitments than a start-up program, Portugal has also initiated a regional pilot informally known as the Angel Visa.

If successful, the Angel Visa could be upscaled and formalised, serving as a foundation for similar initiatives in other EU countries.

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Moscow, Dubai, Cyprus and China and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions in the  UK,  EU & the Caribbean.