This section explains the new law the enables non-EU nationals to get qualified Spanish residency in return for investing in Spanish real estate, and other assets, also known as the Golden Visa or Investor Visa law.
By Antonio Berdonces, Lawyer & British Honorary Consul in Murcia
The bill aimed at entrepreneurs and supporting measures for the internationalization of the Spanish economy (Proyecto de Ley de apoyo a los emprendedores y su internacionalización) is being debated in the Congress of Deputies. It is expected to pass into law during the autumn of 2013.
This law is intended to stimulate foreign investment in Spanish real estate, public debt, and job creation.
According to EU rules on visas and the Schengen Implementing Convention Agreement, the entry and residence in Spain of non-EU citizens shall be authorised for economic reasons.
The spouse and children under 18, (or older disabled children) may also apply for permits at the same time or after the principal applicant.
Types of residency permits under the draft law
Here’s how it works:
Residence visa for investors (year 1)
First of all you get an ordinary 90-day visa so you can come to Spain to search for property, and once in Spain you sign a power of attorney (poder) giving your lawyer power to act on your behalf in the conveyancing and residency process.
However, if you don’t have time to come to Spain, and you have found a property that you are prepared to buy without visiting, you can organise a power of attorney from your home country (this is not possible from all countries) giving your lawyer power to act on your behalf in the conveyancing and residency process. Your lawyer can then buy the property on your behalf, so you don’t even have to come to Spain at this stage.
One you have bought a property that meets the investment criteria (more than €500,000 on the deeds), you need to apply for a one-year investor visa, which allows you to spend a year in Spain, and travel freely in the Schengen area for 90 days out of every 180 days. Your lawyer can get this for you.
Once you have obtained this visa, you are not obliged to spend a minimum amount of time in Spain during the year. However, to get the residency permit at the end of the year, you do have to visit Spain at least once in the year. So, do not apply for the one-year investor visa until you are sure that you will be coming to Spain in the next 12 months.
This one-year investor visa will be authorised in Diplomatic Missions and Consular Spanish Offices and can be issued for one, two or multiple entries into Spain.
These visa applications shall be processed and notification sent within 10 working days, except in case of applicants subject to prior consultation.
Residence authorisation for investors (years 2 to 5 or more)
Once an investment has been made, and after the first year, investors can apply for authorisation to live in Spain for two years, renewable for another two years after that (and on), so long as the investment threshold of €500,000 is maintained (see below). For this application you have to be show that you have travelled to Spain at least once in the previous 12 months.
There is no limit to the amount of times this two-year residency can be renewed.
Properties can be bought and sold during this period, so long as the investment threshold is maintained.
There is no obligation to spend a minimum amount of time in Spain, so investors can remain tax resident outside of Spain, whilst benefiting from Spanish residency and the freedom of unlimited travel and stays in the EU.
Processing and granting the residence will be done by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Applications will be responded to within 20 working days from the submission of the application. If there is no answer in this period, the application shall be considered as accepted.
Long-term residence and Spanish nationality (Year 5 onwards, optional)
After five years of continuous residence, investors can apply for permanent residence in Spain.
Likewise, after ten years of residence, Spanish nationality can be requested. In such cases, an effective justification of at least six months of residence must be provided, (unless due cause exists).
The investment threshold for real estate is €500,000 or more per investor.
To apply for residency, proof of the investment(s) must be provided with a Property Registry filing (certificate). If this certificate is not yet available, then the notarised deeds and proof that the deeds have been submitted to the Property Registry must be provided.
The investment can be comprised of:
One or several properties.
Of a residential, touristic, rural, commercial or industrial nature
Rural land, developed land, buildings under construction, or decrepit buildings
Investors must use at least €500,000 of their own funds, which must come from transparent sources that comply with existing legislation on money laundering and so on. Above that threshold there is no limit to debt financing, for instance with a mortgage in Spain.
There are no restrictions on property use. Investors can use the property in anyway that is legal according to planning permission, zoning laws, and so on.
You can make the investment through a company so long as it is not based in a tax haven and you have control of the company.
Other investments that also qualify for residency:
– Two million Euros in Spanish government bonds
– One million Euros in stocks or shares of Spanish companies, or bank deposits in Spanish banks.
Other administrative requirements
Not to have entered or stayed illegally in Spain, or been refused entry into any Schengen countries
18 years or older
No criminal record
Not listed as undesirable in Spain
Public or private health insurance valid in Spain
Economic resources to support the applicant and dependents
Authorisation or visa processing fee