Published 14/09/2015 by Julia Collins

Changes to Golden Visa scheme in 2015

The hotly-anticipated 2013 “Golden Visa” legislation granting non-EU nationals automatic Spanish residency in exchange for property investments in Spain has undergone some key updates in 2015.

The “Golden Visa” scheme, introduced by the Spanish government in 2013, was designed to attract foreign investment to the country and stimulate the property market post-crisis. The retroactive legislation offered a 12 month residency visa in Spain, followed by a renewable 2 year residency permit, in exchange for an investment of €500,000 (under certain conditions) in Spanish property.

In July 2015, the Spanish parliament introduced a number of improvements to the regime, in order to streamline the bureaucratic process, as well as progress upon the initial regulations put in place. The update includes the following key changes:

• Now, direct ascendants and descendants of the investor will be allowed to obtain a residency permit, regardless of their age, thus enabling the wider family including parents and adult children to benefit from the scheme. Previously, only the investor’s spouse and children under 18 were eligible for approved residency.

• The Residency permit now also includes right to work in Spain.

• Married couples who wish to acquire a property together are no longer required to comply with the €500,000 minimum investment individually. Before the changes, the minimum investment requirement applied on an individual basis, creating a disadvantage for co-owning couples.

• Another addition to the scheme will ensure that unmarried, co-habitating couples will now also benefit from the Law when they register under the Spanish “domestic partnership” Civil Registry, a rule which also applies to same sex couples.

• Under the previous Law, property investments were legally required to be made on an individual basis. Investors will now be able to purchase their properties in Spain either directly or indirectly through a registered company, so long as they continue to hold the majority of shares and the company’s address is not located in a tax haven.

• The visa process has been simplified significantly, with no legal requirement to visit Spain to renew the visa, which now also has a longer validity after its first renewal. The golden visa is granted for 2 years, and (providing the investment remains), can be renewed for a further 5 years etc. The initial residency permit can now also be requested directly from Spain, as opposed to first requiring an investor visa from the investor’s home nation. A shorter 6 month visa can now also be obtained upon production of a deposit contract (arras) and proof of funds in Spanish a bank account, allowing for more flexible travel during the on-going purchase.

Many critics have debated whether these recently implemented changes will increase potential buyers from outwith the Schengen zone. Lucas Fox anticipates that these new amendments to the law will have a positive effect on the Spanish property market, boosting the number of transactions nationwide. This has been very much the case in neighbouring Portugal, with almost 2,000 applications from Chinese investors alone.

We welcome the new changes to the Residency legislation which we expect to boost the real estate led demand for Golden Visas substantially. Good quality, centrally located properties in Spain still cost around half of the London, Paris or New York equivalents but the lifestyle benefits are the same, if not more attractive. We expect interest for obtaining residency from South America, the Middle East and China to significantly increase thanks to these new tweaks in the law” – Alexander Vaughan, Lucas Fox founding partner.

Lucas Fox offers a bespoke Residency service to non-EU buyers. For more information and advice on obtaining the “Golden Visa” please contact our Residency in Spain office on +34 933 562 989 or via email at info@residencyinspain.com

Residency in Spain

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