The Malta and Greece Permanent Residency Programmes Comparison

Dr . Antoine Saliba Haig | 12 Jul 2018

The Malta and Greece Permanent Residency Programmes

The Malta & Greece Permanent Residency Programmes - A comparison

Malta and Greece are two of the few European countries offering programmes for non-EU residents to acquire residency by means of investment, and the only two which offer permanent residency from day one. Such permanent residency programmes are also known as the Malta Golden Visa and Greece Golden Visa. With the various benefits inherent to European residency, and the advantages of being resident both in Malta as well as in Greece, both schemes offer an attractive alternative to high net worth individuals to acquire residency within Europe. 

Maltese permanent residency may be obtained through the Malta Residence & Visa Programme (MRVP). Established through Legal notice 288 of 2015, it offers residency in the Maltese Islands subject to eligibility as well as fulfilment of the requirements laid out by the law. The Greek Golden Visa Programme was established in 2014 through the Immigration and Social Integration Code. With a similar objective to the Maltese residency programme, non-EU nationals are offered a route to obtaining Greek residency by investment. 
Although similar in nature, some key differences exist between the Maltese and Greek residency by investment options. 

 


The Malta Residence & Visa Programme (MRVP)

Residency by investment in Malta is offered through the MRVP, where non-EU nationals may obtain a permanent residency certificate, as well as a residency card, through application for this scheme. Maltese law establishes eligibility criteria for applicants who are interested in pursuing such a route. First and foremost, the Main applicant must have attained the age of majority (18), be of good conduct and good standing, be able to fulfil the requirements established by the programme and commit to contributing a fee to the Maltese Government, to obtaining a qualifying property through purchase or rent, and to investing in government bonds. It must be ascertained that the person does not have a criminal background or is being investigated. This is done through the provision of police conduct certificates from the applicant himself, as well as through a thorough due diligence background check on the applicant conducted by the Maltese Government. 

The main contributions necessary from investors opting to acquire residency through the The Malta Residence & Visa Programme include a government application fee of €30,000 paid in full to the Government of Malta. Such a fee is paid €5,500 on submission of the application and €24,500 on approval. If the Main applicant wishes to include his parents in the application, there is an extra cost of €5,000 per parent. Apart from this application fee the applicant is to invest €250,000 in government bonds, stocks or shares held for a minimum of five years from approval of application, as well as obtaining a property which qualifies for the programme under law. Such a property must be purchased at a minimum value of €270,000, or alternatively, rented at a minimum value of €10,000 per annum. The property must be maintained for a minimum period of five years from the approval of the application. 

To acquire residency through the MRVP, the main applicant must be represented by a registered accredited agent and Chetcuti Cauchi holds the first licence to represent clients in front of the Malta Residence & Visa Agency. The whole process of acquiring residency, from engagement, application, to approval dependent on the requirements established by law and at the discretion of the competent authority, takes approximately 3-4 months. Once approved, the applicant will be given a permanent residency certificate, valid for life, as well as a residency card to be used within Malta as well as within the Schengen area. 
The reasons why investors opt for such a program include the numerous benefits it brings to holders of a Maltese residency certificate. The contribution fee covers both the main applicant as well as his or her family, affording greater ease in relocating with the family unit, apart from other benefits, including favourable tax rates, residency in a European country and free movement within Schengen for up to 90 days without a permit, and the fast process of acquiring residency by investment in comparison to other options. 

 

 

The Greek Golden Visa Programme

Similarly, to the MRVP, the Greek Golden Visa Programme offers an option for residency by investment in a Mediterranean, European country for non-EU nationals and their dependents. Offering ease of relocation to investors of good standing and repute, the programme provides an avenue for acquiring residence in Greece, given that applicants are eligible and fulfil the necessary requirements. As with the MRVP, applicants must be fit and proper and subject to due diligence prior to the approval of their application, however, in contrast with the MRVP, the investment options are slightly more flexible. 

Applicants may opt for either investing in real estate or invest in a project in Greece. When it comes to real estate, the applicant may pursue a number of avenues. He or she has the option to purchase residential or commercial property at a minimum value of €250,000, or via a signature of a ten-year timeshare agreement, given that the minimum value of the lease is €250,000. A third option is also by purchasing a plot of land, but again, a cumulative value of the plot of land as well as the construction contract is a total of €250,000.  Multi-property purchases are allowed, as long as the cumulative value of the properties is not less than €250,000. No minimum residency prior to the application is required, and if approved, the permanent residency permit is renewable after five years.  

The process of acquiring Greek residency by investment carries a further benefit to investors of not being too lengthy. The complete process, from engagement, to issuance of the Golden Visa by Greek authorities, is estimated at approximately 2-3 months, depending on the circumstances of the case. A receipt of application is also issued by Greek authorities upon application, which may be used as a temporary permit by the holder and his or her family. 

 

 

Malta Residence & Visa Programme and the Greek Golden Visa Programme: A Comparison

Whilst both programmes offer permanent residency in Malta or Greece through investment, some distinctions between the programmes exist mainly in the options for contribution by the investors, as well as the processing time for applications. The requirements for the Greek Golden Visa Programme offer more flexibility in choice of investment, as the qualifying property may be either commercial or residential (whilst MRVP requires that the property is residential), and the investment necessary in this regard may be through acquiring ownership of the property, opting for a time-share agreement, choosing to purchase a plot of land and opt for construction, or investing in a project in Greece given that in each case the accumulated value must be of €250,000. 

Further differences include the time estimated for the processing of the application – approximately 3-4 months in Malta, and 2-3 months in Greece. Furthermore, applicants for the Greek Golden Visa Programme are given receipt of their application which may be used as a temporary residence permit. However, applicants of MRVP are given a three-month compliance period once approval is issued by the authorities. This adds an element of flexibility to the Maltese Programme, as prior to application applicants must commit to fulfilling the conditions necessary if and once approved by the Maltese authorities, in contrast to the Greek application procedure where property must be purchased upon application and thus before approval. 

The similarities in the programme exist in that successful applicants would obtain residency through a residency card which is renewable after five years, and that families may be included in the application of the main applicant, given that they are dependent on the main applicant. As two of the few residency programmes available in Europe, the Malta Residence & Visa Programme and the Greek Golden Visa Programme set standards by law in order to facilitate establishing residence in both countries through investment and providing high quality investors with residency alternatives within Europe.

 

 

  Malta Greece
Eligibility Non-EU citizens, persons of good standing and clean criminal record, subject to due diligence Non-EU citizens, persons of good standing and clean criminal record, subject to due diligence
Processing time Approx. 3-4 Approx. 2-3 months
Minimum residency presence None None
Government Application Fee €30,000 covering all the family except for parents. €2,016 per individual to be paid on submission of application and on renewal every five years.
Government bonds (to be kept for five years) Minimum value of €250,000
To be kept for five years only.
None.
Investment in real estate Obligatory:: Value of €270,000 if purchased or  €10,000 if rented in the South of Malta & Gozo / 

Value of €320,000 if purchased or €12,000 if rented in the rest of Malta.

To be kept for five years only.
May be either residential or commercial – Various options for investor to choose from including purchase, timeshare agreement, or construction on a plot of land as long as the cumulative value is not less than €250,000.

To be kept for life.
 
Multi-property purchase acceptable? No. Yes, as long as aggregate value is at least €250,000.

 

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