Residence Programmes open to Same-Sex Couples

Malta, Portugal, Greece & Spain Golden Visa Programmes open to Same-Sex Couples

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | Published on 13 Aug 2020

Residence Programmes open to Same-Sex Couples

Civil rights for the LGBTIQ community have significantly improved over the years in a number of countries. Despite this, however, same sex couples still face stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Unfortunately some countries still consider being in such a relationship as a criminal offence. Individuals facing such challenges are seeking to relocate to other countries with advanced equality and anti-discrimination laws which would allow them to reside in a safe and welcoming environment. Same-sex couples all over the world are thus relocating to other countries through residence by investment programmes.

A Golden Visa or a Residence by Investment Programme is a type of residence permit offered by several European countries. The main benefit of such a residence permit includes the possibility to relocate and reside permanently in the country of residence and the right to travel within the Schengen Area without a need of a visa. 

In this article we look at countries in which same-sex couples can safely relocate under residence by investment (Golden Visa) programmes.

Malta

LGBTIQ rights in Malta are of the highest standard and Malta is often seen as a model by other countries when it comes to civil and equality legislation. Since 2015, the European association ILGA has ranked Malta 1st in terms of LGBT rights legislation out of 49 observed European countries, a ranking it has upheld ever since. Same-sex couples in Malta have the right to marry or enter into a civil union. Civil Union provides couples with exactly the same legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, including the right to jointly adopt children.

Under the Malta Golden Visa programme or as it is legally known as the Malta Residency & Visa Programme, same-sex couples are allowed to apply jointly in one application. The couple must either submit a marriage certificate or a civil union certificate. If the couple is not married they are required to provide evidence that they are in a long standing relationship.

Applicants willing to obtain residence in Malta under this programme are required to invest a minimum of €250,000 in government bonds or stocks listed on the Malta Stock Exchange which must be held for 5 years. Additionally the applicant is required to pay a €30,000 government application fee and rent or purchase a property. 

Greece

LGBTIQ rights in Greece have evolved significantly over the previous years and the country is known for its liberal mentality. Anti-discrimination laws have been enacted in 2015 and 2016 expanding the rights of same-sex couples as well as ensuring equality in the workspace regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Since 2015, Greece also recognizes same-sex unions by allowing same-sex couples to enter into cohabitation agreements. 

By virtue of Law 4540 of 2018, which came into effect in August 2018, couples with a cohabitation agreement in Greece have been given the right to apply jointly under the Greek Golden Visa Programme. This amendment further contributes to the general climate of acceptance and inclusivity in Greece. Such a legal provision means that same-sex couples can apply together under Greece's residence by investment programme. Before submitting an application, the couple are requested to set up an appointment with a notary in Greece and sign a cohabitation agreement Once this notarial act has been registered, the application for the Golden Visa can be submitted. 

Applicants willing to obtain residence in Greece under this programme are required to invest a minimum of €250,000 in real estate located in Greece and to keep such a property for as long as they require the residence permit to be valid. 

Portugal

The rights for the LGBTIQ community in Portugal improved significantly over the years. The country has enacted anti discrimination laws and bans discrimination based on sexual orientation even in its constitution. In June 2010 Portugal recognized same sex marriages and later on allowed couples to adopt.

Under the Portugal Golden Visa Programme, same rules apply to any couple, as long as they are married or live in a recognized stable union. Hence same sex couples are eligible to apply under one application, provided that they present a marriage certificate or stable union certificate from the country where the couple got married or formalized their stable union. 

Applicants willing to obtain residence in Portugal under this programme are required to invest between €280,000-500,000 (depending on the location) in real estate located in Portugal and to keep such a property for as long as they require the residence permit to be valid or until they obtain long term residence or citizenship. Applicants may also invest in investment funds or create a number of jobs in the country.

Spain

Rights for the LGBTIQ community in Spain have undergone several important changes in recent years, leading Spain to be recognised as one of the most culturally liberal countries in the world. Same sex marriage and adoption were also legalised in 2005.

By virtue of Spanish legislation 14 of 2013 enacted in September, an applicant for the Spanish Golden Visa can add a spouse or a person with an analogous affective relationship. By virtue of this provision thus same-sex couples are also allowed to apply for the Spain Golden Visa. It is imperative however that the relationship is proved to the Spanish authorities who have the discretion to decide whether such would constitute an 'affective relationship'.

Applicants willing to obtain residence in Spain under this programme are required to invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate located in Spain and to keep such a property for as long as they require the residence permit to be valid. Real-estate investment can include both residential or commercial property. 

How can we Assist? 

Over the years, we have assisted numerous same-sex couples from all corners of the world to take up an alternative residence in the above-mentioned countries. EU membership and the Schengen status of these countries make them ideal candidates for relocation. What distinguishes our immigration lawyers and advisors from others, is our ethos which drives us to maintain the personal, boutique approach of a small firm, while delivering the expertise expected from a much larger firm. Years of experience in the business have reaffirmed our belief in the importance of face-to-face relationships and building a relationship of trust between the individual, couple, family and their immigration lawyer. 


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