Chinese, Russians and Turks are among the top three nationalities investing heavily in Greek property market to get residency permits under the ‘Golden Visa Scheme’, launched in Greece in 2014.
Greece grants five-year residency permits and (in some cases) citizenship to foreigners who buy property worth more than 250,000 euros (US$ 294,000). The buyer’s spouse and children aged below 21 years are also granted visas.
Since the scheme's launch 4,193 foreigners have secured permits or citizenship, including 797 Chinese. Russian citizens purchased 359 properties and obtained 802 visas for themselves and their family members. Turkish citizens secured 317 visas through 137 property acquisitions.
Chinese, Russians and Turks are followed by Lebanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, Ukrainian, Syrian, U.S., and Jordanian citizens.
After buying properties under the scheme, it is not mandatory for foreign nationals to live in the property. They can also renew the residency permit after five years. Many of these foreign nationals have either rented out the properties or are using them as holiday homes, according to reports.
Golden Visa schemes have been launched in several other European countries, including Cyprus and Portugal.
Cyprus is facing flak from the European Union and international press after it was reported recently that many influential people facing allegations of corruption in their own country are getting Cyprus visas through “dubious” investments. In response, the Cyprus government is planning to impose restrictions on real estate agents acting as intermediaries in the Golden Visa Scheme.