Alarm bells are ringing in the European Commission over residency by investment schemes in the EU. Cases of fraud in Portugal and other EU countries regarding permanent residence visas for foreign investors (the so-called Golden Visa) to attract funds via investment or buying property have forced EU authorities to look into how these visas are granted in all member states.
The scandal was uncovered in mid-September in a joint investigation by the Portuguese weekly Expreso and The Guardian, which found that several Brazilian businesspeople linked to development scandals in Brazil had been awarded permanent residence in Portugal.
The European Commission (EC) expressed concern over the situation, and said that from next year onwards they would be looking into how these visas are granted in all member states.
“The conditions to get and grant citizenship are regulated by national law in each member state, but always in line with EU legislation,” explained the EC spokesperson Margaritis Schinas.
“The EC will compile a report next year on the policies in individual countries for awarding citizenship and residence permits to investors to provide more guidance to member states,” she said.
In both Portugal, where the scandal has been uncovered, and Spain, where there has been no problems to date, investors can get a residence permit, Schengen area visa-free travel, and long-term path to citizenship after buying property valued at €500,000 or more, amongst other types of investment.
In both countries, most Golden Visas go to Chinese nationals. They’re followed by Brazilians, South Africans, Russians and Lebanese in Portugal and by Russians, Turks and Egyptians in Spain.