European Residency Programs and How to Obtain Them?

A European residency visa in any country in the EU is something to be treasured. The EU offers a range of benefits and delights, from the versatile living experiences, the bustling metropolitan cities of London and Paris, the snowcapped mountains of the Alps to the sun-soaked beaches of Greece and France – what’s not to love? Whatever you are looking for, whatever language you speak, you are sure to enjoy living in Europe.

The biggest benefit of the EU Residency is that it provides the opportunity to work and live in any of the twenty-six member countries of the European Union and visa-free travel to many other jurisdictions. Given that it is one of the best paths to a passport and full citizenship, many immigrants have flocked to Europe to enjoy the promise of prosperity and opportunity.

The Benefits of a European Residence Permit

  1. European Life – Europe has a very high standard of living with access to excellent goods and services almost guaranteed.
  2. Safe Future for the family – Europe provides safety, stability, and security through social programs and assistance in case you or your dependents ever need it.
  3. European Education – Europe has some of the most developed education systems, and hence children will have access to the best in vocational training and education at competitive prices.
  4. Free Movement in Europe and Select Countries – You get to travel visa-free within the Schengen zone and select countries in North America and South and East Asia.

The Different Options for Acquiring European Residency

While acquiring residency in the EU is not easy, there are several ways to get into the residency programs. The simplest way of becoming a citizen and resident of an EU country is to prove ancestry in the country applied to. Unlike other programs, you do not have to claim residency from immediate grandparents or parents, as one can qualify for residency even if the ancestry goes back several generations.

You could also get permanent residence status if your partner or spouse has resident status in the EU. Dependents will also be eligible for residency status depending on a variety of factors that may include age, disabilities, guardianship, and how close a familial relationship the applicant has with the dependents.

For a person with no direct familial links, the options available include:

Residency Visa Based on Income

If you run a location-independent business, have existing businesses that provide you with a steady income, then you could be eligible for residency as a person of independent means in the following countries:

  • Spain – To be eligible for the program, one must have income from pensions, rental income, or investments that provide enough income to allow one to live in Spain without needing to look for a job in a Spanish company.
  • Portugal – Eligibility is earned by having passive income from investments, pension, and/or rental income that you can support yourself comfortably while living in Portugal.
  • Cyprus – You need to prove that you have income sources that provide enough money to sustain yourself in Cyprus
  • Austria – You will be required to have a non-Austrian income that is at least twice the General Social Insurance amount
  • Ireland – You need to have an annual income of at least €50,000 and a little more for emergencies

EU Residency by Investment

One of the easiest ways to get a second passport and citizenship in the EU is to invest in the Golden Visa. With the visa, one can reside anywhere in the EU, where they can take advantage of high standards of living and travel anywhere they please in the Union. Given that Europe has some of the best investment opportunities globally, investors can take advantage of profitable and fast-rising property markets. Some of the easiest countries where you can get residency by investment include:

  • Cyprus – To get permanent residency on the Mediterranean island, you will be required to purchase property worth at least €300,000, and with a very low corporation tax of 12.5%, few programs trump Cyrus.
  • Greece – One can get residency in Greece after purchasing a property worth at least €250,000.
  • Malta – Get into the Malta residency program by purchasing a property worth €275,000. You also get a 15% effective tax rate as a permanent resident.
  • Portugal – You have a choice of either buying a house worth at least €500,000, transferring €1million into a Portuguese bank, or starting a business that creates at least ten jobs.
  • Spain – You get a residency permit by either investing €2 million in Spanish bonds or purchasing a property worth €500,000.

 EU Start-up residency visas

If you are a person that is driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship or you simply have great ideas for some businesses you could set up in the EU, the following countries will offer residency visas:

  • Sweden – If you are planning to invest or run a business and can prove acumen and experience running the business, you can get a start-up residency visa. You will also be required to show proof of sufficient funds to support your family and/or dependents.
  • Austria – The country offers start-up founders who have been involved in incubators, accelerators, innovation, and have good capital and funding.
  • France – You can get a Tech Visa if you have a promising and innovative start-up project. The visa is usually given to employees, investors, and start-up founders that can also prove sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents.

Eligibility for Long Term Residency in the EU

Since there has been a proliferation of Long Term Residency programs in the EU, the governing body has put in place new requirements for persons wishing to apply to long term residency permits. These include:

  • At least five years’ residence in the EU Country where you are applying
  • Sufficient living space for the applicant, members of the family, and dependents
  • Financial means to support yourself and any dependents if any
  • Basic understanding of the social and legal system, including the way of life of the Golden visa country
  • A basic grasp of the official language of the country you intend to move to

Permit Requirements for a Residency Program

To be eligible for a long-term residency program, you will need a residence permit. Given that most nations do not have an interview for applicants to the Golden Visa program, the documentation you will be asked to provide will be critical in the final decision made.

The following are the documents required:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of health insurance, whether private or public
  • A passport size photo that is taken to Schengen photo standards
  • Proof of accommodation that may be a homeownership document or a rental contract
  • Evidence of residence in the given country for at least five years
  • Proof of income that may include pay slips, bank statements, or work contracts
  • Valid registration certificate showing the date of arrival into the given country
  • Evidence of residence in the host country such as rental contracts and utility bills

While these are some of the most common requirements, each country may have additional requirements. As such, it is always important to check the respective website of each residency program for a complete list of the requirements.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Residency Program

  1. What family members and dependents are permitted in one application
  2. Ease of adaptation or living in the host country – are there issues to do with racism or too different a culture from the one you are used to
  3. What type of investment or business do you want to engage in Europe?
  4. Does the program provide temporary or permanent residence, and how fast or easy is the process?
  5. What are the living costs of the host country, and does it have a favorable taxation system?

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.