Last Updated on December 27, 2023 by Rikki
Italy has recently suspended its “Golden Visa” program for Russians and Belarusians, which allows residency in exchange for investment. This decision comes over a year after the European Commission recommended its suspension.
The program, also known as Investor Visa for Italy, grants residency to individuals who make significant investments in Italy, such as purchasing real estate or investing in Italian businesses.
The suspension of this program is a response to concerns regarding the security and transparency of these visa schemes, especially in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Italy Suspends Issuing ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians
Italy has recently announced the suspension of issuing ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians. Discover how Italy’s recent suspension of Golden Visas underlines its pledge to uphold the security, transparency, and core values of the European Union.
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Decision to Suspend ‘Golden Visas’
The decision to suspend the issuance of ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians was made by the Italian government in response to concerns raised by the European Commission. The European Commission had recommended that EU member states suspend these programs due to potential risks to security, transparency, and the values of the union. Italy took this recommendation seriously and decided to halt the program for individuals from Russia and Belarus.
European Commission Recommendation
The European Commission’s recommendation to suspend ‘Golden Visa’ programs for Russians and Belarusians stems from their concerns about individuals who have been sanctioned or who have supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These programs have allowed individuals to obtain citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including freedom of movement within the Schengen area. The Commission believes that these programs pose a risk to the security and values of the European Union.
Italian Investor Visa Program
The Italian Investor Visa Program, also known as the ‘Golden Visa’ program, offers a two-year residency permit (with the possibility of extension for three years) in exchange for significant investments. The eligible investments include investment in Italian government bonds worth €2 million, the purchase of shares in an Italian limited liability company worth €500,000, investment in an Italian innovative startup worth €250,000, or a donation of €1 million to a charitable initiative in Italy. After ten years, investors have the right to apply for citizenship.
Reasons for Suspending ‘Golden Visas’
Italy has decided to suspend the issuance of ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians primarily due to concerns raised by the European Commission. The Commission’s recommendation highlighted the potential risks associated with granting residency and privileged access to individuals who have been involved in sanctionable activities or who have supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. By suspending the program, Italy aims to ensure the security, transparency, and values of the European Union.
Number of Russians and Belarusians Who Obtained ‘Golden Visas’
According to reports, more than 30 Russians have obtained the ‘Golden Visa’ through the Italian Investor Visa Program in the past year and a half. Out of these, 32 investors received a two-year visa, surpassing the numbers of Americans, Britons, and citizens from non-EU countries who also obtained the visa. The exact number of Belarusians who obtained the ‘Golden Visa’ is currently unknown.
Cancellation of Similar Programs in Other EU Countries
Italy is not the first country to suspend or cancel its ‘Golden Visa’ program. Earlier this year, Ireland abolished its Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which offered residence rights in exchange for a donation of €500,000 or annual investments of €1 million in the country’s economy. Portugal also terminated its program, which granted residency in exchange for capital investments, in an effort to curb rising property prices and rentals. These cancellations signal a growing trend of EU countries reevaluating their ‘Golden Visa’ programs.
Italy’s Stance on ‘Golden Visas’
Italy has demonstrated its willingness to comply with the European Commission’s recommendation by suspending the issuance of ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians. By doing so, Italy aims to address the concerns raised by the Commission regarding security, transparency, and the values of the EU. The Italian government’s decision reflects its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the EU and ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens.
European Commission’s Concerns
The European Commission has expressed concerns about the potential risks associated with ‘Golden Visa’ programs for Russians and Belarusians. The Commission’s main worry stems from the possibility of individuals who are subject to sanctions or who support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine obtaining citizenship or privileged access to the EU. Granting residency to such individuals may undermine the security, transparency, and values of the European Union.
Impact of the Suspension
The suspension of the ‘Golden Visa’ program for Russians and Belarusians will have several implications. Firstly, it will prevent individuals who have been involved in activities that violate sanctions or support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from obtaining residency in Italy through this program. Secondly, it will serve as a deterrent to other EU countries considering similar programs, as it showcases the Commission’s concerns and the willingness of member states to prioritize the security and values of the union. Finally, the suspension will contribute to the reassessment of ‘Golden Visa’ programs across the EU, potentially leading to further cancellations or modifications in the future.
In conclusion, Italy’s decision to suspend the issuance of ‘Golden Visas’ to Russians and Belarusians aligns with the European Commission’s recommendation to EU member states. The move reflects Italy’s commitment to ensuring the security, transparency, and values of the European Union. The suspension will have significant implications, both in terms of preventing individuals with sanctionable activities or support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from obtaining residency and in prompting further reevaluation of ‘Golden Visa’ programs in other EU countries.