Some European countries have made it possible for those who invest in real estate in their countries to gain residency or citizenship by using the so-called “Golden Visa”. Countries with such “Golden Visa” schemes include Malta, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus, but what about Germany in 2022? Can investing in real estate in Germany bring about citizenship or residency? This article will explore the options available regarding how to get German citizenship and whether there is a Golden Visa in Germany.

The Golden Visa: What are the Benefits and Requirements?

With a Golden Visa, the holder does not need to have ancestors from or familial links to the country in question to gain citizenship or residency. Similarly, other usual requirements for residency and citizenship, such as living in the country or starting a business in that country, are not required. Therefore, the conditions are based on what is necessary for the visa itself. Such requirements differ between the different countries in Europe that are in the Golden Visa scheme.

The differences lie in factors such as:

  • the amount required to be invested,
  • the industries in which the applicant should make the investments and, in some cases,
  • the geographical location or type of real estate.

Another aspect to consider is the nature of the visa. For example, should an applicant consider the Golden Visa residency permit in Ireland, it is worth remembering that Ireland is not part of the Schengen Zone.

Criticism of Golden Visas in Europe

The sale of Golden Visas and Golden Passports by European countries has been a concerning issue for the European Union. MEPS have criticised the practice, and the European Commission has taken legal action against states such as Malta and Cyprus over the issue. MEPS stated that the inherent risks within these programmes include money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. Research conducted demonstrated inconsistencies and serious irregularities with how Cyprus the country conducted its Golden Visa scheme. Between the years 2007 and 2020, Cyprus provided close to 7000 applicants with Golden citizenship.

Portugal is in the process of making its Golden Visa scheme more difficult and restrictive for investors. From 2022, Golden visa applicants will no longer be able to invest in properties in Lisbon, Porto and parts of the Algarve when applying for the programme. Portugal hopes to drive investment towards less-developed parts of the country, but it dramatically limits the ability of investors to benefit from their investment in the country.

How Golden Visa programmes will develop from here is difficult to predict. With many MEPs and members of the European Commission opposed to them, it looks set to be a significant legal battle. Malta has stated that citizenship rules are a matter for the state itself to decide upon, but EU citizenship also provides rights such as European Freedom of Movement. It is likely that it will become more difficult to buy Golden Visas, and countries may face damaging legal battles with the European institutions.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German Immigration Law, you can contact our law office anytime. Our lawyers for German  Business Immigration Law can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our Immigration Information Germany Center.

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The Golden Visa in Germany?

In contrast to some other European countries, Germany does not officially provide a Golden Visa programme; however, there are alternatives. One alternative can be found under § 21 German Residency Act/Aufenthaltsgesetz in the form of the Residency Permit for Entrepreneurs. Under this programme, the applicant can obtain a permanent residence visa after three years and apply for citizenship after six years.

The difference between this programme and the Golden Visa programmes is that the applicant must take a more active role in Germany. Instead of investing in property, the applicant has to establish a business that will benefit the German economy. Alternatively, they can also gain German Residency by Investment through the creation of an investment company. As a full-service law firm, our corporate law and investment teams advise entrepreneurs and investors on all matters concerning the entrepreneurial visa in Germany.

The following is a brief overview of what is necessary when forming a company in Germany (an investment company and other companies). Contact us directly for specialised assistance with opening a company in Germany.

The German Entrepreneurial Visa: What Is Required?

The entrepreneurial visa may be granted should the applicant present a business plan that fulfils specific requirements. These necessities include: the business plan must meet an economic interest or regional need. It must positively impact the economy, and the financing must be secured by equity capital or a loan commitment. After submitting a plan, the German authorities will examine it in detail to ensure that it meets these criteria and some others (such as the financial commitment and the applicant’s previous business experience). Other advantages of this visa include:

  • the applicant does not need to demonstrate proficiency in German or conduct language tests,
  • their family will also be provided with permission to reside in Germany,
  • German citizenship is fast-tracked so that it can be granted in six years.

Should a candidate require assistance with their application under  §21 German Residency Act, make sure to contact our immigration law team directly. As part of our services, we offer detailed relocation services. Our lawyers assist clients in drafting business plans and ensuring they fill the requirements under the Germany Residence Act.

Investors opening an investment company in Germany should also be aware that many of the above requirements need to be fulfilled by those looking to benefit from German residency by investment.

Real Estate Residency in Germany

Although not explicitly called a “Golden Visa”, there is a possibility of obtaining residency through real estate investment. One can be entitled to a residency permit by investing in property in Germany. The justification for it can be found under § 7(1) German Residency Act, and it has also been outlined in a case from the Administrative Court in Freiburg from 18 July 2018, 1 K 1083/17.

To reside in Germany, an applicant must demonstrate sufficient resources and assets to live off of their own funds. There is no stated minimum requirement for this amount, but the main point is that they can sustain themselves from their amount. For more information about real estate immigration, please visit our website.

Advantages of German Citizenship

Even without the opportunity to get a Golden Visa, it is worth considering gaining German citizenship. There are many advantages as the German passport is one of the most powerful passports globally. Situated at the very heart of Europe, German citizenship opens up the entirety of the continent of Europe and the opportunities within it. In real terms, German citizenship allows one ease of access to the European markets for investment and other options. Furthermore, Germany is a safe, secure and prosperous country to raise a family with excellent universities and education facilities. Our article “The Benefits of German Citizenship” provides more detail into the advantages of getting German citizenship.

Our Law Firm: German Immigration Law Expertise

Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte is a full-service German law firm that specialises in immigration law. We work with clients worldwide from our offices in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen, and conference rooms across the major cities of Germany. We provide expert legal advice to our clients on various immigration issues, and we offer services in English, Russian and other languages. If you need assistance with German immigration issues, make sure to contact our firm directly.

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