Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led European countries to mobilize in order to help Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war.
For a period of nearly a month, over 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the war, heading to other European countries, according to the figures provided by the United Nations.
Besides opening their doors to a large number of refugees from Ukraine, authorities in European countries have also imposed sanctions on Russia, which have been considered the harshest in the last years.
Among the sanctions introduced by European countries’ governments has also been the suspension of the Golden Visa Scheme.
The Citizenship by Investment scheme permits wealthy internationals to acquire residency in a specific country, provided they make a specific amount of money investment and meet the required conditions. It also permits its holders and their family members to move freely within the borderless area of Schengen without being obliged to apply for a visa at first.
Up to this point, the following European countries have suspended the Golden Visa Program for Russian citizens: Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Spain.
On February 25, soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government of the Czech Republic announced that it would no longer accept or process visa applications for Russian citizens.
The announcement of the Prime Minister of Czechia, Petr Fiala, also includes the issuance of Golden Visas to citizens from Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
“We are suspending the processing of visa applications from Russian nationals at all our consular offices with the exception of humanitarian cases,” Fiala back then pointed out in this regard.
Earlier this month, Greece’s Ministry of Migration and Asylum suspended the Golden Visa program for Russian citizens, stressing that they would no longer be permitted to apply for, hold or renew investment-based residence permits in the Hellenic Republic.
“By order of the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi, the issuance and renewal of residence permits of investment interest and purpose that are under consideration and come from citizens of the Russian Federation is suspended until further notice,” the statement published by the same Ministry notes.
According to the Migration Minister, Notis Mitarakis, about 2,500 residence permits have been issued to citizens of Russia under this scheme since the program was launched back in 2013 while adding that the country has attracted over 3 billion euros in investment since 2013.
Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, confirmed that the country suspended the Golden Visa Scheme for Russian citizens due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have recently instructed that no further applications from Russian citizens will be accepted into the Immigrant Investor Programme,” McEntee has stressed.
However, the Minister stressed that there had been few applications for the Citizenship by Investment Program in Ireland filed by Russians since the scheme was introduced back in 2012, while none have been approved in the past few years.
The decision to suspend the Golden Visa scheme was also introduced by authorities in Portugal.
The Foreigners and Border Service previously announced that it would stop the scheme for Russian citizens.
In addition, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva stressed that more Russian citizens would be subject to sanctions in the following days.
“SEF has suspended the appreciation of any dossier of candidacy for authorization of residency through investment, commonly known as golden visas, for Russian citizens,” the Minister pointed out.
In addition, he stressed that the scheme was also suspended for citizens from Belarus.
According to Portugal’s Immigration and Border Service (SEF) data, investment from citizens from Russia brought a total of €277.8 million to Portugal’s economy in the nine years since the program was created.
Authorities in Malta have also announced that they would join the list of European countries that have decided to halt the Golden Visa scheme to citizens from Russia following the latter’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
According to the announcement of authorities in Malta, the country stopped the sale of citizenship passports to citizens from Russia.
In addition, similar measures would be applied to citizens from Belarus, according to the Maltese government announcement.
“Consequently, Community Malta Agency and Residency Malta Agency have suspended, until further notice, the processing of applications for the above-mentioned statuses from nationals of the Russian Federation and Belarus,” the government pointed out in this regard, as reported by Euractiv.
Spain’s government also announced the decision to halt the issuance of the Golden Visa scheme for citizens of Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
The decision was confirmed by the country’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares.
Based on the data provided by the Diplomatic Information Office, from the beginning of 2020 until the end of January this year, 492 Golden Visas were issued to citizens of Russia by authorities in Spain.
In addition, the data published by the College of Registrars, last year, a total of 159 properties in Spain were bought by Russians, while the same source revealed that Barcelona, Alicante, and Malaga were among the favorite territories for Russian citizens.
Thus, the Association of Real Estate Developers of the Province of Alicante urged the Spanish government not to suspend the scheme for citizens of Russia as, according to the association, the majority of Russians do not support the war in Ukraine.
Besides, previously, the Commission of the European Union confirmed through a statement that it also plans to limit the issuance of golden passports, which permit Russians to invest in a specific country in exchange for citizenship.
Besides the European Union countries, the suspension of the sale of golden passports to wealthy Russian citizens has also been announced by authorities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
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