Spain ends ‘Golden Visa’ Programme

Spain scraps its Golden Visa Programme

In a move that has reverberated through the real estate and immigration sectors, Spain has decided to bid adieu to its ‘golden visa’ scheme. This program, initiated in 2013 during the aftermath of the eurozone crisis, offered foreign investors a fast-track to residency in exchange for substantial investments, primarily in real estate.

At a recent Cabinet meeting, ministers unanimously voted to terminate the program, which has issued over 6,200 visas until 2023, according to Transparency International. Predominantly availed by Chinese, Russian, Iranian, American, and British nationals, the golden visa was a means to stimulate foreign investment, particularly in Spain’s ailing property sector.

However, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government believes it’s time to prioritize the needs of its citizens over foreign investors. The decision to scrap the scheme aligns with Sánchez’s vision of ensuring housing as a fundamental right rather than a commodity for profit. This move is especially crucial in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, where the housing market is under immense pressure, making affordable housing a distant dream for many locals.Property in Fuerteventura.

While critics argue that the golden visa wasn’t the root cause of Spain’s housing woes, the government stands firm in its decision. Francisco Iñareta, representing the Idealista property portal, points to the imbalance between housing supply and demand as the crux of the issue. Yet, the elimination of the golden visa resonates beyond domestic concerns.

The European Commission has been urging EU members to re-evaluate such schemes due to security issues, exacerbated by recent geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Spain’s move echoes similar actions taken by the UK, Ireland, and Portugal in recent years. These nations have either terminated or significantly revised their visa programs, which are universally aimed at attracting wealthy investors.

The impact of Spain’s decision is likely to ripple across various sectors. Real estate developers, who once relied on foreign investments to bolster their projects, may now face challenges in funding. However, this shift could also present an opportunity for domestic investors and developers to step up and fill the void.

Moreover, this decision reflects a broader shift towards prioritising social welfare and housing affordability across Europe. It sends a message that governments are willing to take bold steps to address systemic issues, even if it means sacrificing short-term gains.

For regions like the Balearic and Canary Islands, where skyrocketing rents have strained local communities, the end of the golden visa brings hope for more sustainable housing policies. By focusing on measures like rent caps and affordable housing initiatives, the government aims to alleviate the burden on residents and create a more equitable housing landscape.

As Spain bids farewell to the golden visa, it embarks on a new chapter it hopes will focus on ensuring housing security for its citizens. While the immediate ramifications of this decision remain uncertain, it does highlight the government’s declared policy of placing the housing of its own people ahead of potential profits from wealthy immigrants.

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