Spain Announces Termination of “Golden Visas” Program

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Spain announces termination of ‘Golden Visas’ program. Stay informed on immigration policy changes and their implications.

Spain has initiated the process of phasing out its “golden visa” initiative, a program designed to offer expedited residency to foreign investors. Introduced in 2013 under the administration of Mariano Rajoy, the scheme was devised to stimulate foreign investment, particularly in the aftermath of the eurozone crisis, which had severely impacted Spain’s real estate sector. Through this program, individuals could obtain residency by purchasing property valued at €500,000 or more.

During a recent Cabinet meeting, ministers reached a consensus to discontinue the issuance of these visas, signaling a shift in governmental policy. It’s noteworthy that until 2023, approximately 6,200 visas had been granted for property investment, as reported by Transparency International, although alternative estimates suggest a higher figure. Notably, a significant portion of beneficiaries—approximately 2,712—were of Chinese origin, followed by Russians, Iranians, Americans, and British citizens.

Aside from property investment, the “golden visa” program also facilitated residency for those investing €2 million or more in Spanish state bonds or supporting emerging domestic companies. However, statistics reveal that only a small fraction of visas were granted for reasons beyond property acquisition, amounting to a mere 6%, according to government data.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez articulated his administration’s rationale behind terminating the program, emphasizing the imperative to ensure housing as a fundamental right rather than a commodity subjected to speculative interests. He underscored the acute housing pressures in major urban centers like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Málaga, Alicante, and the Balearic Islands, where affordability concerns impede access to housing for residents.

Notably, areas such as Ibiza within the Balearic Islands have witnessed escalating rental costs, prompting the government to enact legislation aimed at curbing rental surges. This legislative intervention aligns with broader efforts to address housing affordability concerns, particularly in regions experiencing heightened demand and constrained supply.

The decision to abolish the “golden visa” program has garnered support from leftist factions within the coalition government, who have long advocated for its termination. However, critics argue that the program’s discontinuation fails to address the root causes of Spain’s housing challenges. Francisco Iñareta, representing the Idealista property portal, contends that housing shortages and escalating demand, rather than the “golden visa” initiative, are the primary drivers of the housing crisis.

Externally, pressure from the European Commission has contributed to the reconsideration of such schemes across EU member states, citing security apprehensions, particularly in the wake of geopolitical tensions such as Russia’s annexation of Ukraine. Notably, other European countries, including the UK and Ireland, have already terminated similar programs, reflecting a broader shift away from residency-for-investment initiatives.

Spain’s decision to dismantle the “golden visa” program marks a significant policy shift aimed at recalibrating housing dynamics and prioritizing housing accessibility for residents. While critics raise concerns about the program’s termination, attributing housing challenges to broader systemic issues, the government’s action reflects a commitment to reasserting housing as a fundamental right rather than a speculative commodity.

Source: BBC


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