An EU permanent residency permit gives one the right to live and move freely in a member country of the EU, with little to no restriction. In recent times, permanent residency in the EU has become highly sought after, given the many benefits it provides. Unlike a visa, the permanent residency permit in the EU does not need to be renewed, and one does not need to reapply.
There are several ways to obtain permanent EU residency that include marriage, descent, naturalization, and—for people for whom that is not an option—residency by investment.
Residency by Investment
Several EU countries offer residency by investment programs. For high-net-worth people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), these programs are some of the easiest and fastest ways to get residency in an EU state and, by extension, the Schengen Zone.
- The Malta Permanent Residency Program – Residency is issued within six months of an applicant’s investment, and one does not need to renew or maintain residence status by physically living in Malta. The program’s most significant benefit is that permanent residents can live and work anywhere in the Schengen Zone, do business in a country that does not impose taxes on overseas income, and access the superior health care, education, and social welfare service in the country.
- The Cyprus Permanent Residency Program – One can obtain residency in Cyprus and the EU in as little as three months on the fast track program. Residency grants one a range of benefits, the biggest of which is the permission to live and work in Cyprus and take advantage of one of the EU’s most attractive tax environments.
Residency via Golden Visa
The Golden Visa is a residency permit provided by countries such as Greece and Portugal to high-net-worth individuals who need to take advantage of European residency. Though called a Golden Visa, it is another residency by investment program that allows one to live, work, open offshore accounts, invest, and do business in an EU country.
- Portugal Golden Visa Program – For a reasonable investment in real estate, a high-net-worth individual from the Gulf Cooperation Countries may acquire permanent residency in Portugal. With Portugal Golden Visa, one can then travel all over the Schengen zone and register and operate businesses in Portugal and all across Europe.
- Greece Golden Visa Program – Launched in 2013, Greece’s is one of the most popular Golden Visa programs in the EU. Residency is granted upon the purchase of residential real estate, which can take as few as three months. With a Golden Visa, one can then live freely in Greece and any country in the EU that is in the Schengen Zone. Other benefits that accrue from the residency permit include the ability to establish businesses and offshore bank accounts in the EU and to travel visa-free in the Schengen Zone.
Benefits of European Permanent Residency
While there is a lot of variation in the different residency and golden visa programs in the EU, most programs will provide similar benefits. Some of the common benefits of permanent residence in the EU that hold across the different programs include:
- Freedom of Movement – With residency, one can travel, work, vacation, and live anywhere in the Schengen Zone countries. Many Middle Easterners have to deal with endless visa applications to travel in Europe, which can become tedious and inconvenient. EU residency gets you visa-free travel to almost all the countries of the European Union.
- Investment – Permanent residency in the EU allows an individual to grow their business in Europe, open offshore bank accounts, and diversify their assets portfolio to reduce risk. Moreover, many Golden Visa and residency programs such as the Malta’s provide tax incentives such as little to no taxation on worldwide income.
- Family Safety – Residency provides greater mobility for an applicant and their family, allowing them to live and work abroad. A European education and lifestyle will expose your family, and especially your children, to other cultures. This will enrich their experience and make them better able to navigate and thrive in an increasingly global marketplace.
- Secure Future for Children – An opportunity to live in the stable social, political, and economic climate of Europe provides lifetime security for your children, who will have the chance to study, live, and work abroad, accessing the services and privileges available in the country of residency. If they live long enough in the country, they and their children after them may become eligible for citizenship by naturalization.
- Health Care – European residents have access to better health care all across the EU, and in countries such as Malta, new residents can get these services for free after living in the country for more than five years.
- Opportunities for Business Growth – For high-net-worth individuals, a residency permit makes for strong business relationships, leaving them unfettered by political or logistics restrictions. When this is coupled with governmental incentives for investors, such as business-friendly regulations and tax-free benefits, there is an opportunity for exponential business growth.
European residency in countries such as Portugal, Greece, Malta, and Cyprus can be highly beneficial, particularly for a high-net-worth person from the Middle East and North Africa. With residency, one gets to enjoy better business prospects, better security, safety for the family, better economic and social prospects, and the right to live, work, and conduct business in the stable and prosperous economies of the Schengen Zone in the EU.