Acquiring citizenship and residence in the EU
“Civis Romanus sum!” was once said by the proud Romans, referring to their special privileges compared to others who were not “citizens of Rome”. Since the Roman treasury was always dependent on fresh money, wealthy foreigners were able to buy Roman citizenship even in those days. Even today the trade in citizenships and passports is popular. Not only from island states like Antigua, Vanuatu and Grenada, but also from European states like Austria, Malta and Cyprus. This usually costs several 100,000 € and depends on different conditions in the individual states (country of origin, security check, source of the capital.
Although other European countries do not grant citizenship, they “sell” residence permits of varying quality to applicants for cash.
Spain is no exception: By a law that came into force on September 29, 2013, non-EU citizens have the right to be granted a so-called investor visa if they can prove that they have purchased real estate in Spain for at least €500,000 or if they acquire shares or business shares of Spanish companies worth €1 million or hold Spanish bonds worth €2 million. The acquisition of a residence permit is subject to further conditions: e.g. no criminal record in Spain and in the country of origin, proof of the sources of the capital invested, possession of a private or statutory health insurance valid in Spain and similar. Since these conditions are not particularly “exciting” compared to those of other European countries, the number of applicants is manageable. In the Balearic Islands, only 2016 “Golden Visas”, as this form of residence permit is also called, have been applied for since 2013.
From the very beginning, Golden Visas have been the subject of discussion: the European Commission and the organisation Transparency International are of the opinion that Golden Visas promote money laundering and corruption and are harmful to the security of the European community of states.
The Spanish government and the Balearic Parliament are currently discussing the abolition of this special form of residence permit.