JUST in 2019, Spain issued 8,061 residence permits to non-EU citizens in exchange for investment reasons, more commonly known as ‘golden visas’, and since it was launched in 2013 the nation has issued 35,422 as of February of 2020.
According to the information provided by the General Secretariat for immigration, last year there was a 22 per cent increase in these golden visas, compared to the 6,576 visas granted in 2018. This number has constantly been both evolving and growing since its first application under the Entrepreneurs Support Act and its internationalisation in 2013.
In the first year of this act only 24 permits were registered, the next year, visas shot up to 3,364, successively increasing to 4,593 in 2015, 5,445 in 2016, 6,004 in 2017 and 6,578 in 2018. Last year Spain issued 8,061 residence permits and in 2020, there have already been 1,345 issued in the first two months of the year.
Without including the visas granted to relatives in the country (a total of 3,530 visas) the most cited reasons for handing out the golden visas last year was for ‘highly qualified workers’ (1,650 visas), followed by ‘business mobility’ (1,361), the acquisition of real estate (681) and research (576). Capital investment purposes only reaped 20 golden visas.
Amongst the nationalities of those who received a golden visa, the most prominent since the beginning of the Entrepreneurs Support Act in Spain has been China (8,202 permits), followed by India (3,169), Russia (2,698), the United States (2,657), Brazil (2,283), Mexico (1,691), Colombia (1,366), Argentina (1,066), and Venezuela (911).
This type of visa is typically granted in exchange for real estate investments of over half a million euros, having at least a million of this in deposits, more than two million in state bonds, being considered as a highly qualified professional, or moving a certain company to Spain.
Political party Podemos has been vocal about their disagreement with this type of visas. The deputy of Podemos, Rafa Mayoral, has called for the end of these visas which “are sold to the highest bidder” and only serve to commercialise citizenship.
This type of visa is criticised for “showing how the rights of citizenship are not seen by the political power as rights inherent on the human condition, but rather as a useful instrument to attract investment,” he added.