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This report examines types of visas and visa requirements granted to people who invest in a foreign country. Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain do not specify a particular amount a foreign investor must invest in the country to be considered for a visa (temporary or permanent). Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom specify a particular amount that must be invested in order to qualify for a visa. (Aug. 2013)

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There are two main visas available to investors wishing to live in Australia. Such people must first obtain a state- or territory-sponsored provisional four-year visa and meet the conditions of that visa before applying for the permanent visa. Both the provisional and the permanent visas include two streams under which investors may qualify: an Investor stream and a Significant Investor stream. The Significant Investor stream provides several concessions to qualify for the permanent visa. A temporary, four-year visa is also available to state- or territory-sponsored investors over the age of fifty-five who wish to reside in Australia during their retirement years.

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Austria has no statutory provisions on the granting of visas to investors and therefore does not specify any threshold amounts for such investments. A self-employed person may be granted a temporary residence pass if he or she contractually agrees to carry out certain self-employed activity for at least six months. It appears that the discretion inherent in this provision would allow the Austrian authorities to enter into an agreement with investors in individual cases if this was deemed to be in the interest of Austria.

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As a new member of the European Union, Bulgaria offers business opportunities and a quality lifestyle. Depending on the type and amount of investment, an investor may be eligible for different terms of residence and may have the possibility of applying for Bulgarian citizenship, including through an expedited process. Physical residency requirements were lifted in 2013. Eligible investments include the purchase of government bonds, investment in real estate, acquisition of shares of Bulgarian companies, financing a loan from a Bulgarian bank, and creating a specified number of jobs.

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At the federal level Canada has an Immigration Investor Program that allows qualified investors and their families to receive permanent resident status in Canada. In addition to certain other requirements, applicants need to meet five selection criteria, which include business experience, age, education, languages, and adaptability. The provinces and territories have their own Provincial Nominee Programs to attract qualified investors. Quebec, in particular, has its own immigration requirements and investor immigration program.

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French immigration law does not contain any provisions that would allow foreign investors to become residents if they invested a certain threshold amount in France. French law merely provides that entrepreneurs may be granted a residence permit if their intended endeavors in France are economically feasible. The initial duration of such a residence permit may not exceed one year but it is renewable.

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German law does not specify a particular amount that an investor must bring to Germany in order to obtain a residence permit. Entrepreneurs are currently admitted into Germany if an evaluation of their intended entrepreneurial activities indicates that there is a national or regional economic interest in their admission, the proposed activity would be favorable for the economy, and the financing of the venture has been guaranteed through the investors’ own funds or through promised loans. The size of the investment is still a criterion, but no amount is specified.

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No specific minimum investment amounts are necessary to obtain an investor visa in Italy. Instead, Italian law provides that self-employed persons, including entrepreneurs, may be granted a temporary residence permit if the funds that are required for the proposed enterprise are made available. The duration of such a permit may not exceed two years, and the permit may be renewed. Citizens of the European Union do not need a visa to reside and work in Italy, and certified long-term residents of other European Union Member States are accepted into Italy on the basis of that certification.

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Latvia offers foreigners the opportunity of becoming a temporary resident with a path to citizenship and access to the Schengen Area with minimal bureaucratic requirements. Since 2010, foreign businessmen have been able to obtain a residence permit by investing in a Latvian company, purchasing real estate, or depositing funds into a bank account in amounts specified by statute.

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Under Lithuanian law, a temporary residence permit may be granted to business people and their family members who start a company with a minimum capital share value of approximately US$19,000. After five years of temporary residency, an individual may apply for permanent residency, and may seek Lithuanian citizenship after ten years of combined temporary and permanent residency.

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The Netherlands is making an effort to attract foreign investors, the wealthy, and persons of “high quality” and with knowledge to reside permanently within its borders. Most non-EU investor visa applicants reportedly must invest a minimum of about $35,560 and engage in business activities that are substantially in the interest of the Netherlands. However, citizens of the United States and Japan need only invest a minimum $5,939 in a Dutch business and are exempt from the “substantial interest” requirement.

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A residence visa may be granted to an immigrant entrepreneur who wishes to invest in Portugal, provided that investment transactions have been made in Portugal, or the person can prove that he or she has funds available in Portugal, including those arising from financing from a financial institution in the country, and demonstrate, by any means, the intention to make an investment transaction in Portuguese territory.

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Current Spanish immigration law does not require any specific amount to issue an investor visa. A self-employed person may be issued a temporary residence visa valid for a period of ninety days to five years if the proposed investment is proved to be appropriate and will provide jobs for Spanish workers.

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United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is actively seeking foreign investors to enter and remain on its shores through generous provisions in its immigration laws. It provides a fast track system for settlement of only two years, reduced from the standard five years, for individuals who enter as an investor and put significant amounts of money into the UK’s economy. Further relaxations in the normally stringent immigration requirements include permission for investors to remain outside the UK for up to 180 days each year before losing their ability to apply for citizenship.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020