ATHENS – Greece's lucrative Golden Visa program that sells five-year residency permits and European Union passports to rich foreigners – criticized for being open to money laundering and criminal activity – has been brought almost to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Migration Policy Ministry data showed that this year only 368 have been issued, bringing the total to 7,903, with 2019 a boom year that saw 3,428 sold, investors applicants required to invest at least 250,000 euros ($291,377) in the country.
In a feature, Kathimerini said many of the super wealthy who get the permits and passports while even those in the Diaspora with Greek heritage have to wait up to two years or more, spend so much it's brought a bonanza.
Bank of Greece figures have shown that the sum of foreign capital that flowed into the country for the acquisition of real estate assets last year reached €1.45 billion ($1.69 billion,) the paper said.
With international air traffic at a crawl and tough health restrictions in place for travelers, few are willing to take the risk of coming to Greece, the European Union banning those who don't live in the bloc with few exceptions, leading to some applications in the works to be left in limbo.
At least 120 Chinese investors who have already bought property in Greece cannot return to submit the necessary documents for the issue of their residence permit, that country representing 74 percent of those getting the visas.
The same problem concerns investors from the US, South Africa, India, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, the paper said, with a second wave of the pandemic dashing hopes for an economic rebound and putting another savage hit in the Attica prefecture including Athens, where 70 percent of the investments are made, property there being the most desired for them.