Varnavas' proposals for Greece's Golden Visa programme

Varnavas proposals for the golden visa

Actively supporting government tasks through advice on and concrete proposals for improvements in the Golden Visa scheme, Varnavas Law Firm submitted a comprehensive report to the Greek Ministry of Immigration on 16 April 2020.

Among other things, the report also includes the following proposals:

Granting the right to work to holders of Golden Visa residence permit:

Varnavas Law Firm proposed to grant investors the right to directly access dependent employment or undertake self-employed activities or provide contracted services or deliverables.

The legislation in force provides that the Golden Visa holder may neither work under employment contract nor undertake business activities as self-employed or freelancer. The Golden Visa holder is only allowed to establish a company and exercise control over it in his capacity as a shareholder.

This restriction impedes the smooth integration of the investors and their family members into the social and economic life of the country, which could indeed be achieved through work.

Moreover, it deprives Greece of further significant resources, such as:

a. The capital of the original investment for obtaining the residence permit.

b. Capital inflows for investment in new companies.

c. New jobs in the investors’ companies.

d. Well-educated and skilled human resources bringing know-how form their country of origin.

Adult family members with intellectual, mental or physical disabilities:

Varnavas Law Firm proposed to allow supported adult family members (investor’s siblings or children) with intellectual, mental or physical disabilities to obtain a residence permit.

The legislation in force provides that three generations are entitled to a residence permit: the investor and his/her spouse, the investor’s parents and parents-in-law and the investor’s children that are under the age of 21.

In many cases, the candidate investors are also supporting adult family-members with intellectual, mental or physical disabilities (usually children over the age of 21, siblings etc.). So, not being able to issue a residence permit for the supported adult family member, acts as an inhibiting factor for these families.

Acquiring property through inheritance or parental donation (or gift):

Varnavas Law Firm proposed that any non-European citizens acquiring property through inheritance or parental donation or gift (e.g. spouse) should also have the right to apply for a Golden Visa, provided that the deceased or donor had acquired the said property in compliance with the Law and had exercised such right while alive or before the gift.

The legislation in force provides that the heir or parental donation recipient may apply for a Golden Visa, provided that on transaction date the property had a minimum “objective” value (this is the tax value determined by the State) of 250,000 Euros, regardless of the actual price paid to the seller.

For example, if the father donates to his son a property he bought for 250,000 Euros, but the property’s objective value is 150,000 Euros, the son may not apply for a residence permit, as the objective value is lower than 250,000 Euros. This is deemed quite unfair, as objective values may significantly differ from market values. Also, the State has the right to amend these values from time to time either upwards or downwards. Therefore, the actual price paid by the donor should be taken into consideration. Moreover, other forms of gifts, apart from parental donation, should also be included.