The mixed results of their visa programs aimed at attracting foreign investors have some European countries reconsidering, even as the U.S. program continues.

In 2022, the United States reauthorized its EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program for five years, until September 2027. The program allows foreign nationals to make investments of between $800,000 and $1,050,000 in projects in the United States as a basis to apply for green cards and the eventual prospect of U.S. citizenship. The program is meant to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the United States through investment from foreign nationals. EB-5s have become particularly popular for high worth individuals from China and India.

Not to be left behind, several European countries for the past 10 years also created similar programs, dubbed “golden visas.” Greece, Portugal, and Spain have been particularly popular for foreign nationals from China, Russia, the Middle East, and even the United States. Over time, these programs are creating economic problems in the countries they were meant to help. Allowing wealthy foreign nationals the ability to reside in less expensive countries has created a housing crisis for nationals of those countries. Wealthy foreigners end up inflating the cost of housing, and those who have always lived in those countries can no longer afford to buy. It is gentrification on an international scale. Such issues are not just caused by golden visas, short-term rentals have added to the problem. Individuals can make more renting to vacationing foreigners in popular areas than renting year-round to families. And some of the golden visa investors are doing just that — renting out their newly acquired real estate.

In April, Spain announced that it would end its gold visa program. Portugal is continuing its program, but it has removed real estate investment from its program to try to cool the housing market. Greece, on the other hand, is keeping its program and increasing the investment amount to gain investors, even if it means inflated housing prices. Possible money laundering through these investments also can be an issue. Ireland ended its program partially to address that problem. The UK has similar concerns. Even the EB-5 program in the United States has experienced various frauds.

There are potentially alternative visa strategies and options that may be available to foreign nationals who wish to remain in another country long-term. Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with global mobility, cross-border remote work or residence applications, and U.S. EB-5 visas and to advise through our global network regarding golden visa programs and other visa or residency options abroad.