A ‘Golden Visa’ scheme in the US has been a big hit, whilst the Spanish version continues to disappoint.
A recent article in the FT shows how popular the US ‘Golden Visa’ scheme has been with foreign investors, in particular the Chinese. The American EB-5 visa attracted almost 10,000 investors last year, most of them for real estate, whilst the Spanish scheme has attracted just 1,189 property investors in two years, according to the Spanish property portal Idealista.com.
The US EB-5 visa grants permanent residence to foreigners who invest $500,000 or more in real estate in certain areas like Miami. The Chinese love it.
The Spanish Golden Visa scheme introduced in 2013 offering permanent residence and Schengen-area travel in return for an investment of €500,000 or more in real estate has been disappointing from the start, and still fails to impress despite tweaks to make it more attractive in 2015.
You can argue that the US is just a more attractive destination than Spain and Europe regardless of the details of the scheme, but it’s not just that. Other European countries like Portugal have had better results with similar schemes, despite being smaller and less well-known than Spain.
The problem with the Spanish scheme is it’s just not attractive enough compared to other countries (though all schemes in Europe are frowned upon by the EU, and their days may be numbered). It’s a typical example of Spanish legislation – too bureaucratic and badly designed. If you are going to offer a Golden Visa scheme you might as well make it as attractive as possible to get the best results. Unfortunately, Spanish lawmakers don’t think like that. Frankly, I don’t know why they bothered introducing a scheme that has been such a flop because of the way it was designed.