Extract of the article “El Gobierno suaviza los requisitos de los visados concedidos a inversores” from El Pais, by J. L. Sellart, on March 4th, 2015.

The Government prepared a set of changes in the system to the grants of residence permits in exchange for investments in Spain – approved in 2013 – that eased the requirements for eligibility and expands beneficiary to unmarried couples or children over 18.

The so-called Golden Visa was created to attract foreigners from outside EU to buy a high level housing (with a minimum price of 500,000 euro excluding taxes) or earmark two million euro to acquire public debt or make a million euro in shares, as well as those that would drive business projects. In 15 months running from September 2013 to December 2014 (the latest available data), a total of 530 foreigners attained residence in Spain by this way, which does not necessary require to live in the country, and most of them (490) bought luxury homes. While property owners are mostly Russians, Chinese and Arabs, the highest number of entrepreneurs comes from US.

Of the 530 residence permits granted to investors, a dozen corresponds to business projects called “of general interest”, 29 to investments in shares and 490 to homebuyers.

There are several countries with similar programs like Portugal, Cyprus and United Kingdom, even if they use different ways to attract investments. In Spain, the Government estimated to have invested 700 million euro in investments (almost 370 buildings and 234 entrepreneurs) and about 12,000 jobs will be created directly and indirectly.

The economic conditions to access to these permissions did not change; neither have legal guarantees, but the access from the technical point of view has eased: the program will also benefit unmarried couples, not only married, people above legal age and descendents economically independent.

A visa or a six months authorization will also be given to those that have not completed the acquisition of the property in the case of home purchases yet, but have already signed the down payment and have deposited the money (during the purchasing process they may be temporarily in Spain).

Also, if before the period from the financial investment to the request of the visa could not exceed three months; it is now extended to a year.

Another important change consists in the fact that investors no longer have to visit Spain to request renewal of the residence permit. A non-European Community citizen may want to have a residence permit in Spain without living in the country because the law allows the free movement in the Schengen area. Moreover, these authorizations will no longer be renewed every two years, but it will be done every five years.

And during the administrative purposes, whether it is for the request or for the extension, they will have residence in Spain until the appeal is concluded, to avoid what happened before, to those foreigners who exhausted the time to extend their permission and that during the proceedings were forced to leave the country.

You can read the entire article, clicking on: http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2015/03/03/actualidad/1425405767_952265.html