ATHENS - It wasn’t said whether they will be allowed into the country during the coronavirus scare, but wealthy Chinese investors scooping up properties in Greek cities to get Golden Visas that come with residency permits and a European Union passport are expected to bring a bonanza of one billion euros ($1.08 billion.)
That was reported by the business newspaper Naftemporiki on how attractive the visas remain as a cheap and easy way for the rich of countries outside the bloc to buy their way into a passport allowing unimpeded travel among 27 nations.
Greece has temporarily closed its visa office in China, keeping away tourists from that country for now even as investors are lining up to get the visas despite some 35 saying they will sue because they’ve put in the money but waited two years to get the documents.
Under the scheme, investors who pony up at least 250,000 euros ($270,092) to buy property or through other investments can get the visa while even Greeks of the diaspora have to wait up to two years to get residency permits despite having heritage ties.
Greece’s 250,000-euro figure is among the cheapest, compared to one million euros ($1.08 million) for Ireland or 500,000 euros ($540,00) for Spain while in Turkey it is $500,000. Cyprus, plagued with complaints it hasn’t vetted applicants for money laundering or criminal activity, also sells the visas cheap.
Greece’s New Democracy said it wants to move beyond Golden Visas and residency permits to selling Greek citizenship outright to foreigners who make the country their tax base, despite tax rates up to 45 percent on their personal income.