(or “Superman vs. the Black Widow”)
Following the suspension of the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment Program, a new advertising campaign was launched from the island of Aphrodite. Its main goal: to convince the candidates for EU citizenship that the “golden visa” is the same as Golden Passport (as you know, the Cyprus Golden Passport program has been suspended following a spectacular corruption scandal). The same “song” is sung by their colleagues from Portugal. Their “golden visa” Program sell visas to residence in the EU for investment in real estate in Portugal.
But is it true that the residence permit visa (aka Golden visa) is equal to EU citizenship? Of course NOT! These are false messages that mislead those wishing to obtain an EU Golden passport. In fact, there is currently only ONE correctly working Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) in the EU – aka. “Golden passport.” This is the Bulgarian Program. And after the changes adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament in March 2021, their CIP is better than ever. Bulgarians managed to protect their CIP from major corruption schemes that shut down similar programs in Cyprus and Malta.
But in order not to deliberately insult the Cypriots, the Portuguese and the other golden visa programs – let us explain the most important differences between the “Golden passport” and the “golden visa”.
(EU) Golden visa vs. Golden Passport
Let’s say it again in plain text so that there are no misunderstandings: a Golden visa(GV) is NOT equal to a Golden passport(GP). The GV offers limited possibilities, but they are trying to present it to us as Superman. And it’s actually the Black Widow – metaphorically speaking, of course.
If you are a golden visa holder, you will only receive a residence permit by investment. You need investing in real estate – this is a requirement of most golden visa programs. You have no choice. For comparison, the Bulgarian CIP provides a wide range of investment opportunities to applicants for (EU) citizenship. You can invest in shares of Bulgarian listed companies, traded on a regulated market. Or in corporate bonds and in concession contracts and rights. If you want, you can invest your money in shares of investment funds (EU regulated UCITs and ETFs). Or shares of alternative investment funds (AIFs). And you can also invest in a Bulgarian company carrying on a Certified Priority Investment Project (CPIP, basically an analogue of the EB5). Or to have participation in a certified investment project or creation of a Bulgarian trading company. And your investments are 100% protected by both the Bulgarian state and the EU.
Citizenship vs. Residence
With a golden visa you will not receive citizenship (unless you are willing to wait 5 years)! The Golden passport gives you citizenship immediately (the procedure itself lasts from 14 to 18 months). Once you receive it, the golden passport guarantees you full EU rights! Both you and your family members. You also have the right to vote in the respective country in which you have applied for the Citizenship by Investment program (Fact: the only remaining working CIP in the EU is the Bulgarian one). You also have the right to vote for the European Parliament.
The taxes you will pay if you have a GV are based on your residence. I.e. you will not benefit from any discounts (you may also fall victim to double taxation). If you have a Golden passport, you will pay taxes as a citizen of the respective country – everything is clear and simple. Fact: Bulgaria is the country with the lowest taxes and fees in Europe – with its 10% flat Income Tax, for citizens and companies.
Another advantage of the golden passport is the visa-free travel. With a GV, your visa-free travel options are limited to the regional level only. With the Bulgarian (EU) golden passport you can travel visa-free to over 160 countries around the world.
To take advantage of the long-term residence option provided by the golden visa program, you must spend a certain period of time (mandatory physical presence) in the respective country. If you have a golden passport – there is no such requirement.
That’s why the “golden passport” program is Superman, and the “golden visa” is the Black Widow.