By Christos ILIOPOULOS*
Individuals who have already moved to another country for professional and/or personal reasons have significantly increased by number the last few years. The pandemic and the progress of technology have accelerated the trend of remote working, which in turn has created the reality for many thousands of people residing in one country for months or years, while working for an employer established in another. Very often, the person who has chosen to work remotely is residing at a country where he/she needs to obtain legal residence status. Many countries offer options to non – citizens, in order to lure them to come and reside in these countries, so the non – citizens can spend a large part of their income there, while still working for a company at another country.
One such program is the legal option, which Greece offers to those who are not Greek and not European Union (EU) citizens, to be able to legally reside in Greece, and to move freely around the EU, provided they purchase assets in Greece worth a minimum of 250,000 Euros. The type of asset, which the non – Greek and the non – EU citizen can buy, is usually real estate in Greece, meaning a house, an apartment, a plot on which the visa applicant will immediately build a house, or even a time sharing contract of a duration of ten years minimum. Its real value must be at least 250,000 Euros. The foreign individual who buys it, must be one person. As an exception, it can be two married persons who purchase the asset together, 50% each. Alternatively, a foreign individual can purchase an undivided share on a property in Greece, provided the share is worth a minimum of 250,000 Euros. The third – country citizen (non – Greek and non – EU), can also be the owner of more than one properties or shares on properties, all of which together must have a minimum worth of 250,000 Euros.
The foreign person who buys a company, which owns the real estate property in Greece (worth at least 250,000 Euros), must own the 100% shares of that company, in order to get the golden visa.
To lodge the golden visa application, the applicant must be legally residing in Greece, at the time of the filing. Once the application has been successfully lodged, the applicant receives a temporary residence permit document valid through the time that the decision on the application will be issued by the Greek state. This temporary residence permit allows free residence in Greece, as well as trips to the citizenship country of the applicant. The temporary residence permit does not allow free movement to other EU and Schengen countries. The golden visa residence permit is not a work permit in Greece.
For the application, a valid passport of the applicant is required, with the stamp of the customs of the entry of the applicant in Greece. If the applicant entered Greece through another EU country, the applicant may be asked to produce the transport ticket by which the applicant entered Greece. Four recent passport – type photos are also needed, and a government levy of 2,016 Euros must be paid.
The applicant must have medical insurance in Greece covering the time the applicant will reside in Greece, with a minimum duration of one year.
A basic document for the application is the purchase deed of the notary, by which the applicant obtained the ownership of the real estate property in Greece, with the full amount having been paid to the seller and not being credited to the buyer. The deed of purchase must be registered with the local land registry.
The visa can be extended to the spouse and the children of the applicant, as well as to his / her parents. The children must be under 21 years old. The members of the family submit an independent application, either simultaneously with the main applicant, or after the main application has been approved.
The golden visa duration, once approved, is five years. It can be renewed, provided the requirements continue to apply, meaning the applicant must still own the property worth of 250,000 Euros. It usually takes two to three months for the application to be approved and the residence permit to be issued. Each application requires independent preparation according to the characteristics of the specific case, and more documents may be required.
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.
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