Comparatively few Golden Visas issued

eKathimerini — The Golden Visa program offering residence permits to third-country citizens investing at least 250,000 in Greek properties has yielded about 1 billion euros, according to the latest estimates, Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas told Parliament on Friday. He added that an online platform for such visa applications is in the works.

According to data the former TAIPED head supplied in response to a parliamentary question, a total of 1,684 residence permits were issued in the context of the Golden Visa program from the start of the program in 2013 up to the end of April 2017. In the January-April 2017 period 134 permits were issued.

Of those 1,684 permits, Chinese citizens have received 701, Russians were the recipients of 357 and Egyptians were a distant third on 84. There also were 81 for Turkish citizens, 79 for Ukrainians, 78 for Lebanese investors, 53 for Iraqis, 45 for Syrians, 37 for Jordanians and 16 for Saudis.

Responding to criticism about the Greek program lagging its Cyprus counterpart, which has already netted about 4 billion euros, Pitsiorlas noted that the threshold for a residence permit in Cyprus is 2 million euros and not 250,000 euros as in Greece’s case, while in Cyprus investors also receive a Cypriot passport.

He went on to attribute the lag in the Greek program to the existing supply of properties in this country, which is quite limited in comparison with Portugal or Cyprus. Those two countries have ready housing complexes for sale to interested investors.

According to sources, the Economy Ministry appears to be freezing a plan to grant residence permits to those who invest the same amount (a minimum of 250,000 euros) in stocks and bonds for the time being. The argument for putting the plan on hold is that the government wants to wait until the pictures regarding nonperforming loans and housing become clearer.

Pitsiorlas further announced that the government will create a special online platform for the issue of Golden Visas to better serve foreign investors in a more timely manner. The platform will allow for the rapid collection of biometric data.