Pedro Sanchez announces end of 'Golden Visa' program in Spain

Pedro Sanchez announces end of 'Golden Visa' program in Spain

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced the end of the 'Golden Visa' program, which previously allowed people to obtain residency in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and mainland Spain through the purchase of properties valued at over 500,000 euros.

"I want to confirm that in tomorrow's Council of Ministers meeting, we will review a report submitted by the Minister of Housing and Urban Agenda to amend the law, approved by the PP in 2013, which permits obtaining residency visas through property investment in our country," stated Sánchez at an event earlier today.

"We will initiate the process to eliminate the granting of the so-called 'Golden Visa,' which allows access to residency status when the investment more than half a million euros in real estate," emphasised Sánchez. "We will take the necessary measures to ensure that housing is a right for everyone and not merely a speculative business."

The concept of the 'Golden Visa,' officially known as a 'residence visa for investors,' was introduced by the Mariano Rajoy government in the summer of 2013 as a mechanism to attract foreign capital amidst the financial crisis.

The PP government opened two avenues to attract investors. Firstly, through the purchase of one or more properties, provided they collectively exceeded 500,000 euros. Secondly, by acquiring over 2 million euros in public debt securities; or over a million euros in bank deposits or shares of companies. So far, the government has not clarified whether the latter option will be retained.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, restrictions were already in place, limiting 'Golden Visas' for Russian citizens. Other European countries that also opted for this scheme, such as Portugal, have already decided to abolish it to "combat real estate speculation," as justified by former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa.

The government estimates that 4,940 investor visas or 'Golden visas' were issued between 2013 and 2022, including residency permits for investors in capital, real estate, and business projects. Close to 20% of these are attributed to Russian investors (969 visas). The majority, 45%, have been granted to Chinese citizens, totalling 2,263 visas; and 2.7% to Ukrainians.

The government says that the majority of permits linked to property purchases are concentrated in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Alicante, Palma, and Valencia, as well as both the Balearic and Canary Island archipelagos. These are areas where the rental market is under pressure.

The abolition of 'Golden Visas' for property purchase has been one of the demands of the Sumar party since the beginning of this legislature. Their spokesperson, Ernest Urtasun, stated following the President's announcement that "it cannot be that someone, simply by being a millionaire and making a real estate investment, is guaranteed residency," adding that such a practice implies the identification of "first and second-class citizens."