Spain offers residency to foreign investors: Immigration consultants expect huge impact

Government ready to offer residency rights to property buyers who spend more than more than Dh750,000

Proposed residency programme for foreign investors to Spain is expected to have an impact on the UAE immigration market.

On Monday evening, the Spanish government announced that it is considering offering residency to foreigners who want to invest in the Spanish property market.

The property should be worth a minimum of EUR160,000 (Dh750,000).

“This is basically an open-for-all deal,” says an excited Mohamed Khan, immigration consultant at MIK Legal Consultants.

“This investment is far cheaper than the investment required for residency in other countries. Whereas other countries are targeting a particular segment of the society this program attracts the mass. The average expat can make this investment.”

Spain has seen its property market tumble with housing prices having decreased more than 30% over the past 4 years. The country is struggling with an economic recession and needs to inject new capital in the property market.

Currently there are more than a million empty homes across the country, and an already strong international demand for Spanish property. The incentive could give an immediate boost to the economy.

The proposal will be discussed and the outcome announced within the next two weeks. Meanwhile immigration consultants in Dubai are excited and gearing up for the possible boost to the immigration market.

“We forecast a huge level of interest for the programme in the UAE,” says Mohammad.

“Residency to Spain means access to Europe. It means free movement in Europe and free trade with other European countries. “Spanish passport holders can visit up to 165 countries in the world without a visa, which makes the Spanish passport the 5th most advantageous in the world.”

Considering the recent political turmoil in the Middle East, Mohammad believes the program might come as a welcome relief to the Middle East region. “In the UAE we expect the program to be interesting for passport holders of Iran, Pakistan, India, Syria, Russia and African counties.”

The pros and cons of applying for such programme will become clearer when the program has officially been announced and the conditions are set.  At this point, there are still some unknowns.
“The question here is how you would maintain the residency status,” comments Pej Mohyeddin, immigration consultant at ILS Group. “Most countries require you to physically stay in the country for a certain amount of days, which is not possible, nor appealing to investors.”

“We are currently waiting for the announcement, which will make clear how long somebody would have to stay in the country in order to maintain the residency,” says Mohammad.

“But I personally do not expect too many stipulations in this programme. Spain wants to see a quick impact. It is aiming for an influx of investment to kick start the economy. I expect the program to allow for the option of living in Spain.”

The current immigration trend among UAE expats shows a continuous popularity of Canada and Australia, followed by the United Kingdom as the most popular European immigration country.

But the investors program to the UK is known to be tough to get into, as it appeals to a selective group of rich investors only.

Ireland and Portugal have been interesting countries for investors, but Spain was never really in the picture, says Mohammad.

“This might change with the new program and Spain might become a good competitor to other European countries, as the investment will be much cheaper.”

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