The standard route to residency of a country is to live and work there, but have you heard about residency by investment (RBI)? We explain how this works and look at the best countries to get a residence permit below.
What is a residence permit?
A residence permit is a document that allows an individual to live in a country for a specified period of time depending on the conditions for obtaining it. The permit must periodically be renewed in order to keep it. The individual usually has the right to enter and exit the country at any time. They are also able to purchase real estate, take out medical aid and register their kids at school.
Residency status is often subject to minimum physical presence requirements and is revocable in case the requirements are not fulfilled.
Also Read: Difference between citizenship and residency
Who can apply for a residence permit?
The requirements for obtaining a residence permit differ from country to country but below are some basic guidelines.
A residence permit can often be extended beyond the main applicant to the following family members:
- husband and wife (in some countries a civil partner)
- parents who are financially dependent
- minor children
- adult dependents in some countries (up to 26 years in Spain and up to 25 years in Malta and Portugal)
How to get a residence permit
Investors and high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) can apply to get a residence permit by way of an RBI programme.
RBI programmes allow an individual to live and work in a country by investing in the country. The difference between RBI and citizenship by investment (CBI) is mostly that the countries that offer RBI are often within the European Union. In fact, you might know them as Golden Visa schemes.
It is even possible, for an individual to apply for citizenship after residing in that country for a specified period of time. It is important to note that this is an entirely separate process which has it’s own requirements.
Best countries to get a residence permit
Getting a residence permit in Singapore
Launched in 2004, Singapore offers one of the oldest RBI programmes. Under the Singapore RBI programme, successful applicants will be granted final approval of their permanent residence status once they’ve fulfilled all the application requirements and made the investment. They then have 12 months to formalise their permanent residence status.
One of the key application requirements that an applicant has to fulfill is that the applicant must prove that he or she has historical business success.
There are three investment options for the Singapore RBI Programme, with the minimum investment amount from SGD 2.5 million.
Benefits of a residence permit in Singapore include:
- the right to live, work, study, and undertake business in Singapore
- access to excellent infrastructure, education, and healthcare
- political stability and low crime rates
Getting a residence permit in Greece
The government of Greece launched their RBI Programme in 2014, under which successful applicants can receive the right to permanent residency.
The most popular route to get a residence permit for Greece is by purchase of real estate, whether it be commercial, residential or agricultural. The minimum value of the purchase is €250,000.
Benefits of a residence permit in Greece include:
- the right to live, work, study, and undertake business in Greece
- high levels of safety and security, excellent education opportunities, and robust healthcare options
- immediate permanent residence, subject to renewal every five years
- the ability to include family members in an application (married spouse, children of the main applicant or spouse under 21 years old, and parents of the main applicant or spouse)
- the ability to apply for citizenship after seven years of physical presence in Greece, subject to the fulfilment of other criteria (including language requirements)
Getting a residence permit in Portugal
Portugal’s RBI Programme allows foreign investors or HNWI to reside, study and work in the country.
Investment options range from purchasing real estate to capital transfers to creating jobs in the country. It is one of the most popular RBI programmes as it can lead to European citizenship should the applicant fulfill all the requirements (including a language requirement) and hold residency for six years.
Benefits of a residence permit in Portugal include:
- The right to live, work, study, and undertake business in Portugal
- exceptional levels of safety and security, excellent education opportunities, and high-quality healthcare
- minimal residency requirements
- the right to apply for citizenship after six years of residence
- family reunification
Getting a residence permit in Ireland
Ireland’s RBI Programme started in 2012, and offers residence rights to the applicant. There are four investment options, namely a donation to a public benefit project, investment in an Irish enterprise, investment in a fund, and real estate investment. The required investment amount starts from €500,000.
Benefits of a residence permit in Ireland include:
- the right to live, work, study, and undertake business in Ireland
- residence, subject to renewal initially after two years, then three years, then subsequent five-year periods
- the ability to include nuclear family members in an application
- the ability to apply for citizenship after five years of physical residence in Ireland (including for 12 months immediately prior to the application)
Getting a residence permit in Italy
Italy is one of the largest economies in the world and provides strategic pathway to the larger European market. In recent years, Italy has taken steps to become a more attractive location for foreign investors. One of these steps was introducing their RBI programme in 2017, allowing successful applicants to reside in Italy after fulfilling one of four investment options with the required investment amount starting at €250,000.
Benefits of a residence permit in Italy include:
- the right to live, work and undertake business in Italy
- the ability to include family members in an application
- the ability to apply for an EU permanent residence permit after five years of residence
- the ability to apply for citizenship after ten years of residence in Italy
Getting a residence permit in Switzerland
Switzerland is a federal republic made up of 26 cantons and is one of the most attractive countries in the world for conducting business. Switzerland does not have a typical RBI programme. A non-EU/EFTA national who does not plan to undertake gainful activity in Switzerland can become a Swiss resident if a Swiss canton confirms a fiscal interest in that individual taking up residence.
Benefits or a residence permit in Switzerland include:
- the right to live and study in Switzerland
- the ability to apply for permanent residency (C permit) after ten years
- the ability of C permit holders to apply for Swiss citizenship
We’ve put together the following resource if you’d like more information on the above listed RBI programmes: Residency by Investment – The Ultimate Guide.