As Portugal scraps its golden visa scheme, rich Americans are looking to Greece as a new route to European citizenship. Olivia Palamountain reports
For ultra-wealthy Americans looking to relocate, Greece is the word. That’s according to real estate, residency and citizenship experts, Astons, who believe that the Hellenic Republic could now eclipse Portugal as the preferred nation for expatriating USA HNWIs.
Not only did Greece attract the third highest level of applications by US investors in 2021, but this level of activity was 740% higher than the previous year.
The shift is thought to be due in part to the Portuguese government’s decision to close its golden visa scheme in order to help combat the nation’s growing housing crisis. Its digital nomad and D7 visas will remain in place.
What exactly is a golden visa? As reported by Euronews, they offer the opportunity for wealthy people to essentially ‘buy’ the right to residency – sometimes without even having to live in the country.
And their popularity in the European Union is growing as people look to move away from political decisions such as Brexit that may limit their rights.
With the unsettled political and social environment in the US, applications for golden visas from Americans are expected to increase.
In its 2022 report, passporting firm Get Golden Visa predicted “its busiest year yet”, despite the fact golden visas are gradually being phased out across Europe, with Portugal the latest to scrap the scheme.
The Greek golden visa is one of the most popular in Europe and currently costs just €250,000, making it one of the more affordable routes to European residency as well.
While already popular amongst American investors, there is also a growing sense of urgency to secure a Greek golden visa before the cost of investing doubles in May of this year to €500,000.
Immigration expert for Astons USA, Alina Lesina, says: “In 2020, we saw a mass exodus of American high-net-worth individuals leaving the USA and it was Portugal that they had their sights firmly set on with when obtaining alternative residency via a golden visa.
“However, it’s likely that Greece will now become their destination of choice following the Portuguese government’s decision to close its golden visa scheme.
“Not only has it been the second most popular European golden visa scheme amongst US investors in recent years, there has also been a huge increase in this interest on an annual basis.
“The scheme itself is one of the more affordable routes to European citizenship, whilst the nation is also similar to Portugal in geographical terms and with regard to its lifestyle offering and climate.”