Golden Visa Countries for Residency by Investment 2024

Looking for a foothold in a foreign country through investment? The best golden visa countries in 2024 extend beyond a visa; they offer a lifestyle, privileges, and potential tax benefits.
April 23, 2024
Golden Visa Countries for Residency by Investment 2024
Ana Fankhauser
April 23, 2024

Looking for a foothold in a foreign country through investment? The best golden visa countries in 2024 extend beyond a visa; they offer a lifestyle, privileges, and potential tax benefits. This concise guide evaluates key players offering residency by investment, their eligibility requirements, and how these may suit your long-term plans. Find clarity on your options as we unpack the essentials of golden visas—your first step towards global residency could be just an investment away.

Key Takeaways

  • Golden visas are residency-by-investment programs offering benefits such as travel privileges, access to healthcare and education, and potential tax incentives, with varying investment options across different countries.
  • Many European countries, such as Portugal, Greece, Malta, and Italy, have their own golden visa programs, each with unique investment thresholds and benefits, alongside non-European programs spanning the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.
  • Golden visa programs are subject to controversies and legislative changes, such as security risks and market effects, with several countries ending or altering their programs, reflecting the dynamic and politically sensitive nature of these investment opportunities.

Understanding Golden Visas

Understanding Golden Visas

Golden visas serve as a gateway to global opportunities. They are residency-by-investment programs that enable individuals and their families to secure residency, and potentially citizenship, by investing in the host country’s economy. Countries that offer golden visas design these programs to draw substantial investments, thereby enhancing their economy.

Golden visa schemes are not just about making an investment; they involve a holistic process and offer extensive benefits. The application process is inclusive, allowing applicants to include their spouse and dependent children, and in some cases, dependent parents or adult children may also be eligible. The investment required to qualify for a golden visa varies and often includes real estate, government bonds, or other sanctioned investment options. The flexibility of the golden visa program is one of its greatest advantages, with investment types ranging from real estate purchases to capital transfers or investing in local businesses. One such popular option is the golden visa scheme, which offers a range of benefits and investment opportunities.

The benefits of obtaining a golden visa are extensive and attractive. Golden visa holders gain:

  • The freedom to live and work in the host country
  • Travel privileges
  • Access to education and healthcare systems
  • Potential tax incentives

Although golden visa programs can provide a path to citizenship, it usually require meeting additional criteria beyond the initial investment. Most golden visa programs do not immediately grant citizenship; they typically confer temporary or permanent residency status, with citizenship as a potential future step.

Top European Golden Visa Countries

Top European Golden Visa Countries

Europe, with its rich history, diverse cultures, and robust economies, is a favorite destination for investors seeking golden visas. Several European countries offer attractive Golden Visa programs, including:

  • Portugal
  • Malta
  • Greece
  • Cyprus
  • Spain
  • Italy

These countries offer various investment options and benefits, such as visa-free travel within the Schengen Area and potential paths to citizenship.

Each of these top European Golden Visa countries has unique offerings. Here’s a detailed look into them.


Portugal’s Golden Visa program has been a magnet for investors since its inception in 2012, offering a low minimum stay requirement, the option to become a non-habitual resident with significant tax benefits for up to ten years, and the inclusion of dependent siblings, in addition to spouses and children. Eligibility for Portugal’s Golden Visa requires a minimum investment of €250,000. The popular investment routes for the Portugal Golden Visa include real estate, with commercial properties in Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas; capital transfer; job creation; and contributing to cultural heritage.

The journey to securing a golden visa in Portugal involves more than just making an investment; maintaining it is equally critical. After maintaining their investment for at least five years, investors can apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship by naturalization, including a Portuguese passport. This clear path to citizenship makes the Portugal Golden Visa a popular choice among investors.

However, there is a surprising development. Recent changes to Portugal’s Golden Visa have led to a focus on commercial properties over residential properties in prime locations such as Lisbon and Porto. This change underscores the dynamic nature of Golden Visa programs and the need for investors to stay updated on the latest developments.


Greece, the land of ancient civilization and breathtaking islands, offers a Golden Visa program that is as attractive as its azure seas. The Greek Golden Visa program permits various investment options, such as:

  • a real estate purchase of at least €250,000
  • a €400,000 deposit in a Greek credit institution
  • investment in government bonds
  • contributions to mutual funds.

Yet the nature of investment programs is inherently dynamic. As of March 31, 2024, Greece implemented a two-tier real estate investment system for the Golden Visa, requiring a minimum of €800,000 for high-demand areas and €400,000 for other regions. But the Greek Golden Visa program still presents opportunities, as investment in conversion and restoration projects maintains a threshold of €250,000 for Golden Visa eligibility.

These changes should not pose a concern for investors regarding their capital transfer investments plans. Here are the key points to note:

  • Those who make a deposit by September 30, 2024, can still apply under the previous €250,000 minimum investment threshold.
  • By December 31, 2024, the investment must be complete.
  • These adjustments to the program will not affect earlier investments.


Spain, with its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, has been a preferred destination for Golden Visa investors. However, due to concerns such as property speculation and housing affordability for locals, Spain decided to terminate its Golden Visa program’s real estate route.

Before termination, to apply for Spain’s Golden Visa, individuals had to obtain a Spanish tax number and submit their application personally or via a legal representative. The program offered initial residence cards valid for one to two years and the possibility to renew for three years. Investment options included real estate worth at least €500,000 or significant investments in company shares, bank deposits, or government bonds.

The lack of a residency requirement and a swift application process, typically spanning one to two months, added to the appeal of the Spanish Golden Visa program, which grants a residence permit. Its conclusion underscores the evolving nature of Golden Visa programs and the importance of staying informed about these changes.


Italy, with its unique blend of culture, art, and cuisine, offers an attractive Golden Visa program, known as the Italian Investor Visa or La Dolce Visa. This program provides residency in an EU country and visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.

Investment options for the Italian Golden Visa investment scheme include:

  • A minimum of €250,000
  • Purchasing government bonds
  • Investing in shares
  • Making a nonrefundable donation to public-interest projects

Initially, the Italian Golden Visa is valid for two years, but investors can extend it for another three years if the investment is maintained.

Not only does the Italian Golden Visa provide residency, but it also holds the possibility of citizenship. Holders of the Italian Golden Visa may have the opportunity to pursue citizenship following extended residency contingent upon maintaining their investment.


Malta, a beautiful island country in the Mediterranean, offers both a residency-by-investment program and a citizenship-by-investment program for investors. The minimum investment for gaining permanent residency in Malta is €110,000, while the minimum contribution for Malta’s Citizenship by Investment Program starts at €600,000.

Investors looking to apply for Malta’s Golden Visa program are required to purchase property worth at least €700,000 or maintain a minimum annual rental of €12,000, along with a €2,000 donation to a local NGO. Additionally, applicants to Malta’s programs must be at least 18 years old and possess a net worth exceeding €500,000, which includes €150,000 in financial assets.

Malta’s Permanent Residence Program offers additional benefits for LGBTQ community members, including:

  • Ranking highly in the ILGA-Europe report on LGBTQ rights
  • Providing the opportunity for citizenship after seven years
  • Complete with a passport that allows visa-free travel to over 170 countries.

Non-European Golden Visa Countries

Non-European Golden Visa Countries

While Europe has been a popular destination for Golden Visa investors, numerous non-European countries also offer attractive Golden Visa programs. These countries provide a range of investment options leading to residency or citizenship, from the Americas to Asia and Oceania.

In the Americas, there are several options for obtaining residency or citizenship through investment:

  • The US EB-5 visa requires a significant investment and leads to residency with rights to education, work, and retirement.
  • Canada’s Start-Up Visa program targets entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Canada.
  • Caribbean nations like St. Kitts and Nevis offer citizenship by investment, either through real estate or donations to the Sustainable Growth Fund.

Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore provide various residency programs with differing investment thresholds. In Oceania, New Zealand offers residency with social security benefits. Panama, in the Americas, provides a residency visa for investors. And not to forget the Middle East, the UAE features long-term visas for investors and skilled professionals, providing a gateway to one of the region’s central business hubs.

These global Golden Visa programs illustrate a worldwide trend of nations vying to attract foreign investors through competitive investment incentives, capitalizing on talent and innovation, and contributing to their national development fund.

Comparing Golden Visa Programs

A comparative analysis of the various Golden Visa programs is a crucial step when considering your options. The investment requirements for these programs vary considerably, with some countries like the Cayman Islands and the United Arab Emirates requiring large investments of USD 2.5 million and AED 10 million, respectively, while others such as Vanuatu and Dominica have more accessible thresholds at USD 130,000 and USD 100,000, respectively.

Investment options for obtaining Golden Visas or citizenship are diverse, including:

  • Real estate
  • National funds
  • Creating jobs
  • Investing in local businesses

These options can be seen in countries like Turkey, Ireland, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla. Several countries, such as St. Lucia and Grenada, offer different avenues for investment, from government bonds to national funds, providing investors with flexibility in how they contribute economically in exchange for residency or citizenship.

The time required before Golden Visa holders can apply for citizenship varies, with some countries like Italy requiring ten years of residency and others like Malta offering a much shorter timeframe of just one year. Unique features of Golden Visa programs include the United Arab Emirates’ offer of long-term residency up to ten years, catering to foreign investors and skilled professionals who prefer prolonged stays without immediate citizenship.

Risks and Controversies Surrounding Golden Visas

Despite their appeal, Golden Visa programs come with their share of controversies. Critics argue that these programs are essentially “selling citizenship,” posing security risks, undermining transparency, and challenging the values of the European Union. Furthermore, Golden Visas are criticized for their potential to facilitate:

  • Money laundering
  • Tax evasion
  • Terrorist financing
  • Corruption
  • The movement of dirty money

These concerns add financial crime concerns to the programs.

Golden Visas can also lead to housing market inflation, as seen in changes to Portugal’s program and Spain’s decision to end its program. The uncertainty surrounding Portugal's program status and Spain's abandoned real estate route serve as examples of concerns regarding Golden Visas within the European Union as well as subsequent legislative changes to control this issue.

Despite these controversies, Golden Visa programs continue to persist due to their economic advantages. However, it’s essential for potential investors to be aware of these controversies and risks when considering a Golden Visa program.

Tips for Choosing the Right Golden Visa Program

Selecting the appropriate Golden Visa program is a momentous decision demanding thoughtful consideration. The first thing to consider is personal goals and financial capabilities. Each Golden Visa program has different minimum investment requirements, and it’s crucial to select a program that aligns with your financial standing. For example, Malta requires a net worth criterion of €500,000 and offers potential for visa-free travel and tax advantages.

When selecting a Golden Visa program, the type of investment is also a major factor. Investors must consider the type of investment that best suits their interests and capabilities, such as:

  • Real estate
  • National funds
  • Creating jobs
  • Investing in local businesses

Lastly, it’s vital for investors to take into account the likelihood of recouping their initial investment when choosing a Golden Visa program, as this aspect can significantly differ across programs. It’s also wise to consider the practicality of renewal frequencies, which may range from biannual to permanent terms without renewal.

The Application Process for Golden Visas

The application process for a Golden Visa, being complex, necessitates meticulous planning and preparation. The first step is to decide on an investment type. Real estate purchases are the most common route, but each country’s Golden Visa program offers a variety of investment options to suit different investor preferences.

Next, applicants must prepare specific documents, which can vary depending on the country. While Portugal uses an online application, an in-person interview, and biometrics session, Greece requires an appointment for biometrics.

Golden Visa processing times can also vary by country, with an average period ranging from two to nine months. It’s crucial to plan accordingly and be patient, as the process can sometimes take longer due to unforeseen circumstances or delays in processing.

Benefits of Obtaining a Golden Visa

Benefits of Obtaining a Golden Visa

Securing a Golden Visa paves the way for a plethora of benefits and opportunities. One of the most significant benefits is the enhanced freedom of movement. Golden Visa programs offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to many countries and borderless travel in areas like the Schengen Zone.

In addition to travel benefits, Golden Visa holders gain access to top-quality healthcare systems and can benefit from the national education system, sometimes at reduced costs. The Golden Visa also allows for family reunification, permitting immediate family members to join the main applicant, which can include opportunities for education and long-term living arrangements.

Beyond the practical benefits, obtaining a Golden Visa can also lead to an enhanced lifestyle. Investors can enjoy access to leisure activities and cultural experiences in regions like the Caribbean and Mediterranean. With all these benefits, it’s clear that a Golden Visa is more than just a travel permit; it’s a ticket to a world of opportunities.

The Future of Golden Visas

The future trajectory of Golden Visas mirrors the diversity inherent in these programs. Some countries, such as:

  • Spain plan to terminate their programs
  • Portugal and the Netherlands are phasing them out
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland have already scrapped their Golden Visa programs
  • The Moldova Golden Visa Program has been suspended and is not accepting new applications, leaving its future uncertain.

European Union officials and the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee have expressed strong objections to Golden Visa Programs on grounds of:

  • security
  • corruption
  • money laundering
  • tax evasion

These objections have influenced decisions to close or phase out programs. A lack of applications was a major factor in the termination of Montenegro's Golden Visa program, showing how the level of interest in such initiatives can affect their viability.

Despite these challenges, Golden Visas continue to evolve and adapt. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, it’s likely that new forms of residency-by-investment programs will emerge, offering new opportunities for investors and countries alike.


Golden Visas offer a unique opportunity for individuals to invest in a foreign country and, in return, gain residency and, potentially, citizenship. These programs, offered by countries around the world, provide a wide range of investment options and benefits, including enhanced freedom of movement, access to quality healthcare and education systems, and an improved lifestyle.

However, Golden Visa programs are not without controversy and potential risks. Concerns about money laundering, tax evasion, and housing market inflation have led to changes in several programs and even the termination of some. It’s crucial for investors to be aware of these risks, stay informed about changes in Golden Visa legislation, and choose the right program based on their personal goals, financial capabilities, and the potential to recoup their initial investment. As the world continues to evolve, so too will Golden Visa programs, offering new possibilities for investors and countries alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a program that grants residency or citizenship to individuals and their families in exchange for investment in the host country's economy.

Which countries offer Golden Visa programs?

Several countries offer Golden Visa programs, such as Portugal, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, and Italy in Europe, as well as others in the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East.

What are the benefits of obtaining a Golden Visa?

Obtaining a Golden Visa offers enhanced freedom of movement, access to healthcare and education systems, family reunification, and an improved lifestyle. These benefits can significantly enhance your quality of life and provide greater opportunities for you and your family.

What are the risks and controversies surrounding Golden Visas? ?

Golden Visa programs are criticized for facilitating money laundering, tax evasion, and housing market inflation, while also undermining transparency and EU values. These controversies pose significant risks to the integrity of such programs.

What is the future of Golden Visas?

The future of Golden Visas is uncertain, with some countries ending or phasing out their programs due to various concerns such as security, corruption, and money laundering. Be cautious about potential changes in this area.

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