Wealthy foreign investors want gold visas for Greece again

ATHENS – The recovery of the Greek economy battered by lockdowns due to a still persistent COVID-19 pandemic has not seen a sharp increase in the number of wealthy foreigners seeking gold visas accompanied by residence permits and European Union passports – but maybe they are.

The influx had slowed in 2020 as the pandemic raged and before vaccines were available, but the New Democracy government turned its attention to accelerating the economic recovery and attracting foreign investors.

There were 151 Golden Visas granted in November, bringing the total so far in 2021 to 989 while in 2020 there were 938, showing remaining hesitation as Greece grapples with the pandemic.

They are led by the Chinese, who made up two-thirds of the candidates, followed by the Turks, Russians and Lebanese, said Kathimerini, with a real estate purchase of at least 250,000 ($ 281,000).

This gives them a fast track to a five-year residence permit and Greek passport, while even those in the diaspora with proof of inheritance and family in the country have to wait two or more years for their own.

But market analysts told Kathimerini the numbers don’t show how real the interest is and with hopes the economy will improve as if the pandemic recedes and investors become interested in the country again.

Achilleas Risvas, director of the law firm Risvas & Partners, who is an active member of the Geneva-based Investment Migration Council, told the newspaper that “purchases made by investors from third countries this year are much higher than permits issued. We have a large number of investors who have completed the process of purchasing a property, but have not yet been able to move their residence permit applications forward, due to months of delays in a number of offices. cadastre or cadastre.

This has hampered the issuance of visas under a program which the European Union says should be carefully monitored to ensure there is no criminal activity or money laundering taking place. .

Greek bureaucracy is also an obstacle, the report notes, because in addition to signing the contract, investors must also have the title deeds in hand, which requires transferring the contract to the relevant land register or cadastral office.

This process of transforming land registers into cadastral offices and the transition phase in which several offices are underway means that delays can be up to six months, meaning that many applications in 2021 will not be approved until 2022.

Based on the latest statistics, since the start of the program in 2014, 9,473 of these permits have been issued to individual investors, and a total of 28,411, including their family members.

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