7 countries offering golden visas to investors and top talent

More governments are looking to attract high worth individuals and highly skilled professionals as they seek to overcome the pandemic

Thailand has joined a long list of countries to introduce a golden visa scheme to attract highly-skilled workers and entrepreneurs to the country.

This week, Thailand’s Cabinet approved new measures to launch a 10-year visa to lure expatriates and foreign investors to the country for work and to launch businesses.

Under the scheme, which aims to broaden technical skills in the country, recipients of the visa will also benefit from foreign tax exemptions. Workers employed by international companies can reside in Thailand too.

For years, countries have introduced golden visas to promote foreign investment and attract talented people.

Those who apply for a golden visa can acquire a second passport, or at least residency in another country for themselves and their family members.

Typically, an applicant simply has to park money in the country, usually in real estate or business investments.

The amount invested depends on the type of visa on offer, but applicants usually have to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege, and in some cases, millions.

These programmes are expected to become more attractive to governments looking to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, The National has put together a list of countries offering golden visa status to foreigners, including high-net-worth investors, wealthy individuals, high-income retirees and highly skilled professionals.

New Zealand

Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand.

Foreigners can gain residency in New Zealand through the Investor 1 and Investor 2 visa programmes.

If you have $7m to invest in New Zealand over a three-year period, you can apply for New Zealand residence under the Investor 1 scheme. If successful, you can go to New Zealand to live, work and study in the country. The visa application includes your partner and any dependent children aged 24 and under.

As part of the Investor 2 scheme, experienced business people who have a minimum of $2.1 million in available funds or assets can apply for residency.

Before a candidate applies, they need to send an Expression of Interest telling the immigration department about their business experience and investment.

United Kingdom

People eyeing the UK as an option for both work and leisure can gain residency by investing at least $2.7m through the UK Tier 1 investor visa.

Applicants must be 18 or over and will need to prove that the money has been acquired legally and belongs to him/her, or a spouse.

The visa is valid for a period of three years and four months and is extendable for another two years.

Canada

Throughout the world, Canada is noted for its quality educational and healthcare systems. A popular destination for international students, it has also become a hub for foreign investment.

Several years ago the country offered citizenship for those willing to invest a minimum of $160,000 in an already existing business, or create a new one with the same amount.

Under the criteria, the investor also has to create at least one full-time job for a permanent resident or citizen of Canada.

Those holding a Canada residence permit, spending at least 183 days each year in the country, are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship after three years.

Switzerland

Switzerland offers a very different but simple long-term residency-by-investment programme.

For those that want to live or open a business in the county, which is home to a large number of international organisations, they have to pay annual taxation, which is typically between $160,000 and $1.1 million.

Those holding Switzerland residence can travel visa-free through the whole Schengen Area, which covers most EU member countries.

United States

The EB-5 visa programme allows foreign investors to become lawful US permanent residents. This visa is also known as the “employment-based fifth preference green card category”.

To be eligible, applicants need to invest at least $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise.

The US investor visa programme is intended to promote economic growth and encourage foreign investments. It was created in 1990 and renewed in 2019 under the Trump administration.

Malta

Last year, legislation granting citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services was enacted in Malta so that individuals and families worldwide could contribute to the nation's economic development.

There are three ways to get Maltese citizenship through investment: buying property, investing in bonds or contributing in some way to the development of the country.

In general, those looking to gain citizenship require funds of about $1m, which includes government fees and citizenship application costs. The sum may increase depending on the size of the investor’s family.

There are a host of benefits that come with having Maltese citizenship, including the right to travel visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival to more than 180 world destinations. Successful candidates will also automatically get EU citizenship and be granted the right to live, work and study in any of the EU member countries.

UAE

In 2019, the UAE implemented a new system for long-term residence visas. It enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland. These visas can be issued for five or 10 years and are renewed automatically.

Under the new resolution, golden visas can be granted to investors, entrepreneurs, high-achieving students, people with special talents, and researchers, in various fields of science and knowledge.

Eligibility for a 10-year visa

  • investors in public investments of at least Dh10 million
  • people with a specialist skills, including doctors, scientists and inventors

Eligibility for a 5-year visa

  • Invest in a property in the UAE with a value of not less than Dh5 million
  • Entrepreneurs who either have an existing project with a minimum capital of Dh 500,000, or those who have the approval of an accredited business incubator in the country
  • Outstanding students with a minimum grade of 95 per cent in public and private secondary schools, or university students within and outside the country having a distinction GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation

General requirements for a golden visa for investors around the world

  • You must personally own the money you plan to invest and prove you have acquired it legally
  • Maintain the investment for a specified amount of time
  • Have a crime-free background
  • Be able to financially sustain yourself and any family members accompanying you — even if you do not intend to live there
Updated: September 18th 2021, 3:45 AM
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