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How wealthy British expatriates are skirting Brexit rules with ‘golden visas’

How wealthy British expatriates are skirting Brexit rules with ‘golden visas’
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According to new data, British expats hoping to begin a new life in Spain are using golden visas to circumvent the 90-day period that was put in place following the Brexit agreement.

Since Brexit took effect in 2021, 185 British nationals have gotten these visas in total; this number is somewhat less than the 186 US citizens who have done so since the program’s inception in Spain in 2013.

Since Britain left the European Union, UK citizens can only stay in Spain and other EU countries for 90 days in every 180, a measure that has hit hardest for Britons with holiday homes or those who want to emigrate to Spain. Britons have already have residency in the country are exempt.

To obtain a golden visa, foreign nationals must invest at least €500,000 in property or €1m in shares or in funds established in Spain. Buying property is the favourite means to secure a visa, entitling a person to a three-year residency, which can be extended for another two years.
After 10 years living in Spain, foreigners are entitled to apply for Spanish nationality.

“These visas are increasingly popular with Brits,” Mark Stucklin, an expert in Spanish property data based in Barcelona, told i. “There is a large wealth group who go for them. Obviously, millionaires wouldn’t bat an eyelid and would go for the visa.”

In 2013, the golden visa scheme was brought in by a previous conservative government to revive the property sector in the wake of the financial crisis five years before.

Amid fears that the scheme has been exploited by criminals to launder cash in villas or bogus companies, the EU has repeatedly warned the 27 states in the bloc to end the scheme or make it harder for applicants to qualify.

Sumar, the far-left party that is the junior partner with the Socialists in Spain’s coalition government, has called for the abolition of the visas, claiming they cause property speculation that forces local people out of gentrified areas.

“We call for measures against property speculation. One of these is eliminating the golden visas,” Gala Pin, a Sumar MP, recently told a Spanish parliamentary hearing on housing.

The Chinese and Russians have secured the largest number of golden visas, with 2,793 and 1,159 respectively, according to data obtained by El Confidencial, an online website.

After Russians, Iranians were the third-largest group by nationality and secured 216 visas.

Russians were barred from obtaining the visas after Moscow invaded Ukraine in 2022 but can still buy property in Spain, despite the war.

Between 2021-2023, Russian property purchases have risen from 1,277 to 2,138.

Carlos Garcia de Ceca, a lawyer who specialises in golden visa cases for Asian clients, said Chinese people who applied for visas usually had businesses in various countries.

Barcelona and the Costa Brava are popular areas for Russian buyers while the Chinese prefer affluent areas of Madrid.

Mzaad
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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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