In the context of economic crisis and rising unemployment, the Spanish government, willing to stimulate the economy, introduced in 2013 (by the Act 14/2013, of September 27, regarding the support of entrepreneurs and their internationalization, and modified by the Act 25/2015, July 25) a special regime whereby foreign investors (non-EU residents) could apply for the so-called “Golden Visa” in Spain.

As described below, Golden Visa holders would be entitled to reside in Spain for an initial period of one year, which can be extended into two to five year periods.  

Requirements that Must Be Met by Investors in order to Obtain the Golden Visa:

a) Significant Capital Investments

The first and most important requirement is to carry out investment in Spain. In this regard, the law establishes three possible investment scenarios in order to apply for the Golden Visa:

I. Financial Investments

Financial investments can consist of (i) Spanish debt securities worth over 2 million euros; (ii) Spanish companies’ shares worth over 1 million euros; (iii) Spanish investment funds’ participations worth over 1 million euros; and (iv) deposits in Spanish banks amounting to over 1 million euros. 

II. Real Estate Investments 

An acquisition of real estate with a minimum acquisition cost per applicant of 500,000 euros must be accredited. The investment can be higher and it can also be leveraged, but still a minimum amount of 500,000 euros must be disbursed.

III. Entrepreneurship-Related Investments 

An investment for the development of a business project in Spain, which has to qualify and be accredited as of general interest. To be considered and accredited as of general interest, the project must mean employment creation, a socioeconomic impact in its field, or a relevant and disruptive scientific or technological contribution. The law is not particularly concise when defining the mentioned requirements, which means that it will depend on the report issued by the Economic and Commercial Office (Oficina Económica y Comercial), which is the proper authority to accredit the general interest of the project. 

b) Common Requirements

Besides the abovementioned requirements, the law establishes some others that must also be met to apply for the Golden Visa: (i) being regularly in Spanish territory; (ii) being over the age of 18; (iii) not having criminal records in Spain; (iv) not appearing in the list of individuals that are not allowed to enter the territory of countries that have signed the corresponding agreement with Spain; (v) having taken out public or private health care insurance; (vi) having enough economic resources for themselves and their family members during its residence in Spain; and (vii) having paid the application fees.  

Golden Visa Holders’ Rights

If the Golden Visa is granted, the applicant is entitled to reside and work in Spain for one year, without having to apply for the foreigners ID card.
If the applicant wishes to extend that period, a residency authorization for foreign investors’ application must be filed. If the authorization is granted, the applicant will be entitled to reside in Spain for two further years, and the authorization can be renewed for additional five year periods. In order to apply for the authorization, the applicant holding a residency visa that is valid or expired by less than 90 days must accredit the maintenance of the significant capital investment, as well as the fulfillment of the common requirements, both referred to in the prior section.

Conclusions

The Golden Visa regime was introduced by the Act 14/2013 and incorporated to the Spanish legal system as an incentive that was already being used by other EU neighboring countries, such as Portugal, Germany, or France. It is a relatively recent regime, but it has already raised a considerable amount of clients’ inquiries, especially regarding the real estate investment. Considering Spain’s tourism-based economy, we believe this regime is especially useful for non-EU residents considering acquiring real estate in Spain.