Can Golden Visas Help British Expats Save Their EU Retirement Dreams?


British nationals face serious limitations on the time they can spend in the European Union now that Britain has left the EU.

With Brexit in full force, the rules for how long people stay in one of the 27 member states has changed dramatically.

At the moment, Brits are only allowed to spend 90 days out of a given 180-day period in the EU. After that, they will need visas, other travel permits or be required to return to the UK.

This is something that has become difficult for those who own a second home in the EU.

But can golden visas help retirees and second home owners overcome these obstacles?

International advisor spoke with industry players to understand what options might be suitable for Britons who want to spend more than three months in the bloc.

Golden Visa

Jason Porter, director of Blevins Franks, said golden visas may offer an alternative to restrictions, but there is indeed a catch, “because freedom only exists between the UK and the Member State of ‘EU to which you are applying “.

“Although it is often cited that a golden visa offers freedom of movement within the EU, this is only for visa-free travel, which UK citizens benefit from anyway. A UK citizen in possession of a golden visa will always be limited to 90 days out of 180, for the rest of the Schengen zone.

Despite this, Porter added that there are additional benefits to a gold visa such as “the ability to include other family members in the application, the ability to vary your activities including working, study and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities without having to change your visa, and potentially access to permanent residence and citizenship ”.

Growing interest

Stuart Wakeling, director of the London office of Henley & Partners, and John Hanafin, managing director of Huriya Private, said there was a growing number of applications for golden visas from UK nationals.

Hanafin said: “Since the British became non-European in January of this year, the EU’s Golden Visa programs have officially allowed British citizens to start applying. In fact, the biggest increase in Portuguese and Greek programs has been in the British and Americans. “

Wakeling added: “Henley & Partners has seen an almost 60% increase in inquiries regarding UK nationals investment migration program options since 2019.”

But he said the growing number of investigations is not just limited to EU immigration rules. For many, golden visas are also part of their retirement plans.

“Where you live impacts many important aspects that become even more essential as you get older, such as how often you can connect with family and friends, how easily you can access to good health care, environmental health and climate. , to name a few.

“In the past, for obvious reasons, many Britons were forced to retire in EU countries such as Spain and France, but Brexit put a wrench in the game and made it much less easy adoption of these traditional options.

“Residence and citizenship-by-investment programs – widely known as ‘golden visa’ programs – offer an alternative solution to Britons who wish to obtain permanent residence and / or citizenship in a range of European countries after the Brexit. “

Residence vs citizenship

When in doubt, residency programs can give almost as many rights as citizenship programs, with the vast majority also offering the option of acquiring a passport down the line.

Wakeling added: “Residency-by-investment programs can give you the right to live, work, study and receive healthcare in the country of your choice, as well as the possibility of settling there permanently if you. wish it.

“Most also include the possibility of acquiring citizenship after a period of residence.

“According to our statistics, the top five investment residency programs surveyed by the British over the last year are all in Europe, with Portugal being by far the most popular, followed by Austria and Greece, followed by Italy.

“Portugal and Greece both have investment options related to real estate.”

Easy process

Arthur Sarkisian, managing director of Astons, said golden visas have proven to be very popular because the application process is quite quick and “straightforward”.

“Many British expats now face tighter restrictions on time spent living in the EU. This will most certainly require a period of adjustment, although the path to citizenship or residency through investment may offer a much easier path to life outside the UK.

“For example, the most popular destinations for expats, such as France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, all offer residency through investment with processing times of just two months or less.

“This is a hugely streamlined process that would allow applicants to quickly obtain residency and overcome potential issues posed by Brexit.

“Residency through investment in these expat destinations would allow the applicant to travel visa-free throughout the EU, as well as the ability to easily apply for a visa for the Schengen area.

“In most cases, permanent residence can be obtained after three to five years of investment, and for those with a longer view, many offer the option of acquiring citizenship later.

“Many countries also offer the option of obtaining residency through a residential real estate investment, which may well be preferable for those starting a new life on foreign soil.

“These countries also offer a relatively low investment cost, with France requiring a minimum investment of € 300,000, reaching around € 350,000 in Portugal or Germany, and € 500,000 (£ 430,000, $ 600,000) in Spain. . “

Do your homework

While golden visas look attractive, they should not be taken lightly.

It is vital to make sure they are the right choice, as recently HAVE reported that a bad request could cost retirees up to € 40,000 in lost fees.

This is because Brits now have to provide a lot more documents, as well as take into account delays in foreign immigration systems or getting the right documents, which could lead to multiple applications and much higher costs.

In addition, depending on the country chosen, it may be necessary to have the documentation translated into the local language and to hire an immigration specialist.

In addition, most European countries now require UK citizens to have private medical insurance and demonstrate that they have sufficient income to support themselves and / or their families during their stay.

Sarkisian d’Astons added: “Each path to residency will come with different requirements; and, therefore, for those considering leaving the UK, it is important to research which investment is most suitable for your personal situation.


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