Immigration to Europe: The eastern gateway

There are several residency-by-investment programmes in East Europe. (Shutterstock)

Europe is one of the most popular destinations for immigrants looking for a second home, or a second passport.

Countries like the UK attract, with their long established immigration programmes, thousands of newcomers, eager to pay large sums of money to be eligible for a new residency, or citizenship.

It is true that the British have the longest standing residency-by-investment programme and one of the most stable investment conditions, but it is certainly not the cheapest route into Europe.

In the East, the doors open for much less.

There are several residency-by-investment programmes in East Europe, such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. They are lesser known and less reputable than those of the UK, Malta and Cyprus, to name a few.

At the same time, the benefits are similar in that it offers new resident visa-free access to the Schengen zone.  

What is more, is that these programmes are generally more accessible, due to the fact that popularity is relatively less.

Romania

The cheapest option to gain residency in Europe through investment is through Romania.

However, this is the lesser known programme, probably due to the fact that the requirements have not been simplified.

A minimum investment amount of €100,000 should be made into a limited company or €150,000 into a joint-stock company within 12 months after obtaining the residence permit.

In addition to the investment, the companies should create at least 10 new working positions for a limited company, and 15 work positions for a joint-stock company.  

Despite the low cost of going through this programme, the effort to meet the requirement is considered burdensome.

Hungary

Previously, the cheapest option to gain residency in east Europe was Hungary. Here, a minimum investment amount of €250,000 in government bond was required.

One of the main advantages of the investment is that the bonds are 100 per cent redeemable after they have reached maturity after 5 years. This ensures the investment will be returned.

In addition to the investment being financed, another major incentive is for investors looking to inject their money in order to gain residency status. Rather than locking money, the investor is likely to only pay the loan rent.

There is a fast-track option for wealthy investors, and after six months of gaining residency the applicant may apply for the same status for his family members.

Bulgaria

Not the cheapest option, Bulgaria has been around longest among the East European countries. Indeed, it was the first European country to follow the example of the UK in establishing a residency programme.

The minimum investment amount is still relatively low; for €500,000 invested in national bonds residency can be obtained. As in Hungary, this investment can be financed.

The benefits are many; not only does the person gain residency within 6 to 9 months, the applicant does not need to be physically present in the country, as this requirement was waved off a few years back. Further, there are no language requirements.

There is a fast-track option to residency and towards citizenship, which could be acquired within 2 years.

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