Greece will increase the threshold of the minimum investments for third-country nationals to acquire the Golden Visa, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in parliament on Friday.
Speaking at a debate on the housing crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Mitsotakis said that the Golden Visa could rise to up to 800,000 euros ($861,000) for real estate investments in certain parts of the country.
In 2023, the conservative government raised the program’s minimum investment threshold from 250,000 euro to 500,000 euro in certain areas. The increased threshold applies to real estate investments in specific municipalities in Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini.
The announcement last year triggered a rush of interest. Thousands applied for golden visas — particularly Americans and Chinese investors — by buying property in Greece before the increase.
“We raised the limit. I think we need to go further,” Mitsotakis said.
“What we are discussing with the finance minister is a further increase in the threshold for golden visa investments and it will concern all areas where rents are high. It can go to 800,000 euros,” he added.
He said that the 250,000-euro threshold will remain for areas with no residential pressure.
Additionally, Mitsotakis mentioned that the government will explore the possibility of requiring individuals purchasing properties under the Golden Visa scheme to engage in long-term leasing agreements.
The premier however did play down the influence of the program on real estate prices.
“It’s convenient to attribute blame to a single villain for every complex issue,” he remarked, noting that only 7 percent of real estate transactions in recent years were linked to the Golden Visa.
A recent report by Bloomberg reveals home prices in Athens are surging, making the Greek capital one of Europe’s hottest housing markets.
Golden Visa programs in Greece and abroad criticized
Golden visas and golden passports have attracted attention in recent years, as some countries attempt to encourage wealthy foreigners to park their money in return for residency or citizenship.
According to Immigration and Asylum Ministry data, Greece’s golden visa program boosted the economy by almost 1 billion euros in the first five months of 2023.
More than 60 countries operate golden visa or golden passport schemes, including several EU nations.
However, concern is growing that the programs are being abused by organized crime syndicates and corrupt officials. That prompted the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, to call on member states last year to stop selling them.
For the European Commission, it’s “undemocratic” to enable wealthy foreigners to ‘buy’ the right to residency — sometimes without even a requirement to live in the country.
Ireland, Cyprus and the Netherlands have already cut their VIP visa schemes, while Portugal reformed its program in October. All EU states tightened their visa rules for Russian and Belarusian nationals in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Transparency International has also called for the end of golden visa programs that “have turned European Union (E.U.) citizenship and residency rights into a luxury good: with enough money, anyone can buy in.”