Spain could axe post-Brexit ‘golden visa’ scheme that’s been a jackpot for British expats

MADRID – Spain is considering ending its so-called “golden visa” scheme, which has been used by Britons to obtain residency since Brexit.

Under the programme, non-European Union nationals are eligible for a three-year residency if they buy property worth €500,000 (£436,000) or more or invest the same amount in businesses. The visa can be extended for a further two years.

The European Union has warned its member states to end such schemes or make it harder for applicants to qualify, amid fears the programmes have been exploited by criminals to launder cash in villas or bogus companies.

The European Commission called on governments to end golden passport schemes that sell citizenship to investors, and urged them to suspend the sale of visas to Russians and Belarusians.

Last year, 2,462 golden visas were granted by the Spanish government, a rise of 60 per cent compared with the year before.

In all, 11,464 have been granted since the system was started in 2013 by the then conservative government to revive the property sector in the wake of the financial crisis five years before.

The number of Britons who have secured residency in Spain using this method is not known, a spokeswoman for the Spanish migration ministry told i.

El País newspaper reported that Spain’s current left-wing government believed that Britons and other wealthy foreigners buying expensive properties was putting more pressure on an overheated real estate market in which many Spaniards cannot afford to buy a home.

The amount fixed to secure a visa is believed by some in government to be too low, especially in Madrid, Barcelona and other major cities where half a million euros is not enough to buy a luxury property, the newspaper reported.

Spain has not confirmed what action it will take over the visa scheme. One possibility could be doubling the threshold to get a visa from €500,000 to €1m.

Manuel Viloria Mendieta and David Martínez Garcia, directors of Transparency International, which monitors and campaigns against corruption, warned of the dangers of the golden visa.

“The risks of money laundering and allowing criminals to enter Spain are enormously high,” they wrote in an article for El País.

Portugal, another country popular with Britons, said in February that it was considering scrapping its golden visa scheme. The Socialist government believes it has inflated property and rent prices which mean Portuguese struggle to get a foot on the property ladder.

The proposal, which is yet to be debated in the Portuguese parliament, has prompted criticism from tourism and housing groups.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button