EU plans crackdown on expat golden visa schemes – membership not for sale

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Countries currently offering golden visa schemes for non-EU citizens include Spain, Malta, Greece and Portugal. Golden visas are one way for wealthy British people to move abroad post Brexit.

The proposed EU tax would reportedly make the golden schemes less attractive to wealthy investors.

Several EU officials want to crack down on the schemes due to fears they encourage corruption and money laundering.

Some MEPs said Europe must not have a “fast-track entrance for criminals” involved in tax evasion.

MEPs referred to a recent scandal in Cyprus where high ranking officials offered to help a fictional Chinese executive with a criminal record get a golden passport.

Some MEPs also believe that golden visa schemes are putting EU membership up for sale and want to make the application process harder.

The suggested amendments to the scheme include a minimum physical presence requirement which would force an applicant to live in the desired country for longer.

Another proposal is for all countries to align their golden visa schemes and follow central EU guidelines.

The proposal said that a system of common regulation would increase transparency and lower the risk of money laundering and criminal activity.

Some officials have argued that countries granting golden visas to non-EU nationals were eroding trust across the EU.

Once a golden visa applicant has achieved residency rights they have greater access to the EU.

International Investment reported that up to 19 EU countries offer the lucrative schemes and those offered by Bulgaria and Malta were cited in the EU report.

Several EU countries make significant income from golden visa investments and would be affected by new legislation.

Golden visa schemes are now one of the remaining ways that British nationals can move to an EU country.

Since Brexit, British nationals can only stay within the EU for 90 out of every 180 days if they want to avoid fines.

Several British expats living in Spain have reported being caught out by residency rules and decided to leave.

The deadline to apply for residency in Spain passed in December 2020 and British expats now need to apply from within the UK.

Christopher Nye of Property Guides, told Express.co.uk: “For those of us helping Brits move abroad, like Property Guides, the diverse range of residence-by-investment ‘golden visa’ schemes across Europe reassured us that you would still be able to retire to the sun – or work abroad – if you really wanted to.

“Almost a year after the transition period ended our confidence has been proved right.

“Barely a month goes by without one EU country or another coming up with a new visa or low-tax scheme to encourage non-EU citizens to bring themselves and their wealth.”

British citizens will normally need to make a significant investment in property or business to qualify for a golden visa.

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