Spain’s so-called ‘Golden Visas’ scheme comes under further fire as Russian nationals continued to be granted residency perfmits despite European Union sanctions being imposed on the country over the war in Ukraine.
A Russian family was granted a citizen’s residency permit based on a real estate investment as recently as January 25, ten months after sanctions were first put in place, according to On Economia.
This is despite an agreement between the Spanish ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Social Security last March to suspend the issuance of golden visas and residency permits to Russian citizens based on real estate or business investments.
The measure was designed to hinder and punish Kremlin-aligned oligarchs who had benefited from Putin’s economic system from obtaining European residency.
But Cristina Romero, a Spanish immigration lawyer has confirmed that her firm, Antonio Segura, recently received approval for a Russian citizen’s residency permit based on real estate investment
“A month ago, we received the approval of the latest residence application for a Russian citizen on the grounds that he had invested in a property.”
“What they cancelled is the possibility of requesting these visas from the consulates in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, but not the permits that tourists request from here,” she added.
While the Spanish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that ‘Golden Visas’ have been suspended for Russians seeking them from Russian consulates, the permits can still be obtained through the Spanish government’s General Business Unit.
It is a backdoor into Spain which falls under the Ministry of Social Security, Inclusion, and Migration, raising doubts about Spain’s immigration policies and potential security risks.
The news will bring increased momentum to calls to close down Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ scheme altogether.
The Residence by Investment scheme, introduced in 2013, allows foreigners to obtain a Spanish residence permit by purchasing real estate worth at least €500,000 in the country.
But left-wing political party Más País introduced a bill to Congress calling for it to be abolished, saying that it drives up housing prices, while the lack of background checks on recipients opens up the door for crooks and fraudsters – an especial threat with Russian citizens.
The bill submitted to Congress would limit the ‘Golden Visa’ to foreigners who launch a business project with job creation or innovation that contribute to the growth of Spain’s economy.
It also follows Portugal’s decision to terminate its ‘Golden Visa’ scheme last week, driven mostly by the increased pressure on property prices that the foreign buyers bring which prices locals out of the market.