Sad news for those wishing to have a second citizenship was received from the EU: European countries closed the program of “golden visas” for wealthy Russians who could obtain citizenship of a particular European country in exchange for investments, more often for the purchase of real estate. The restriction was introduced as part of a package of economic sanctions applied to Russia one after another. At the moment, the Golden Visa program for Russian citizens has been banned by the following European countries: the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, and Spain. In addition to the EU countries, the authorities of Great Britain, the USA and Canada also announced the suspension of the sale of “golden passports” to wealthy citizens of Russia.
The citizenship by investment scheme allowed wealthy Russians to obtain residence permits in a particular country, provided they made a certain amount of monetary investment and met the necessary conditions. The program also gave a bonus to “elite” tourists and their families – they could move freely within the Schengen area without being required to first apply for a visa.
< p>Earlier this month, the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum closed the Golden Visa program for Russian citizens, emphasizing that they are prohibited from applying for, holding or renewing an investment residence permit in the Hellenic Republic.
“By Order of the Minister migration and asylum of Notis Mitarachi, the issuance and renewal of residence permits of investment interest and purpose pending from citizens of the Russian Federation is suspended until further notice,” the ministry said in a statement.
Around 2,500 residence permits have been issued to individual investors from Russia since the launch of the program in 2014, the official said, and the country has attracted more than 3 billion euros of investment since 2013.
Ireland's Justice Minister Helen McEntee has confirmed that the country has suspended its “golden visa” for Russian citizens due to the events in Ukraine.
“Recently, I instructed that no more applications from Russian citizens be accepted into the program,” McEntee emphasized and noted that there were still few Russians since 2012, when the scheme began work. And over the past few years, none of them have been approved.
For the same reasons, the Spanish government has also announced a decision to suspend the issuance of golden visas for Russians. The decision was confirmed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country Jose Manuel Albarez. According to the Office of Diplomatic Information, from the beginning of 2020 to the end of January this year, the Spanish authorities issued 492 “golden visas” to Russian citizens.
In addition, Russians bought a total of 159 properties in Spain last year, according to data released by the Registrar's Board, while the same source showed that Barcelona, the coastal city of Alicante and Malaga were among the favorite territories for Russian citizens.
The Association of Developers of the Province of Alicante “revolted” against the government decision, urging the Spanish authorities not to stop the scheme for Russian citizens, since, according to its data, the majority of Russians do not support the events in Ukraine. However, it is not known what source the association used.
In addition, earlier the European Commission confirmed in a statement that it also plans to limit the issuance of “golden passports”, which allow Russians to invest in a certain country in exchange for citizenship.< /p>
The Maltese authorities also announced that they will join the list of European countries that have decided to terminate the “golden visa” for Russian citizens after the start of a special operation in Ukraine.
According to the statement of the Maltese authorities, the country has stopped selling investment passports and, accordingly, citizenship to tourists from Russia.
In addition, similar measures will be applied to citizens of Belarus, the Maltese government said in a statement.
“Consequently, the Community Malta Agency and the Residency Malta Agency have suspended the processing of applications for the aforementioned statuses from citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus until further notice,” the government indicated in this regard.
The decision to suspend the “golden visa” was also taken by the Portuguese authorities. Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva stressed that even more Russians would fall under the sanctions in the coming days. In addition, he stressed that the scheme was also stopped for citizens from Belarus.
“The SEF has suspended the evaluation of any dossier of applicants for residence permits through investment, commonly known as “golden visas”, for Russian citizens,” the official said.
According to the Portuguese Migration and Border Guard (SEF), over the nine years that have passed since the program was created, investments by Russian citizens have brought a total of 277.8 million euros to the Portuguese economy.
On February 25, shortly after the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, the Czech government announced that it would no longer accept and process visa applications from Russian citizens. The ban also affected the issuance of “golden visas”.
“We are suspending the processing of visa applications from Russian citizens in all our consular offices, with the exception of humanitarian cases,” then Czech Prime Minister Petra Fiala said in this regard.
From Europe, Russian tourists-buyers redirected their gaze to real estate in the UAE, primarily Dubai, Turkey, etc.
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