Golden visas offer lifelong residency to individuals who invest specific amounts of money into a country, more often than not through real-estate purchases. Throughout the globe, they have become an increasingly prominent method of encouraging foreign investment.  

America’s US EB-5 visa is the most popular golden visa worldwide, according Investment Migration Insider’s comparison of national statistics, with 10,090 applicants in 2017, including dependents. All of the following statistics include dependents.


However, capped at 10,000 individual visas per year, the US EB-5 is likely to be overtaken by Greece’s golden visa, Europe’s most popular residence by investment programme, which is estimating 12,969 golden visas for 2018. Greece’s scheme is the cheapest in Europe, offering permanent residency for €250,000 spent in real estate.

The third most popular golden visa is Malaysia’s ‘My Second Home’ programme, with an estimate of 4626 visas issued in 2017. Next is Quebec’s ‘Investor Immigrant’ programme, which has filled its quota each year.

In fifth place is Portugal, with 2230 visas issued in the 12 months prior to July 2018, however neighbouring Spain saw 3107 golden visas in 2017, doubling its number since 2016.

Following Iberia is Thailand’s ‘Elite Residence’ programme, which issued 1400 visas between April 2017 and April 2018, a fivefold increase compared to the previous year.

The UK’s ‘Tier 1 Investor Visa’ was issued 998 times in the 12 months prior to Q3, 2018. Neighbouring Ireland’s ‘Investor Immigration Programme’, on the other hand, has been slightly less popular, issuing only 329 golden visas in 2016, with no records of additional investor visas issued since.

New Zealand does not trail far behind, with 310 Investor visas issued in 2018 up to July. New Zealand is unique in the sense that it has two categories of golden visas. Though their most sought-after investor visa price doubled in 2018, applicants have continued to flow, especially from China.

Malta, Australia, and Latvia are the last most popular golden visas. Malta’s residence visa programme attracted 700 applicants in the 12 months prior to July 2018. Australia on the other hand, has seen a decline in golden visas since 2015, with only 170 issued in the year leading up to May 2018.

Latvia’s Investor visa programme is one of the cheapest in the world, and most diverse, offering three methods of becoming an EU citizen, either by real estate acquisition, business investment, or bank deposits. The total number of Latvian investment visas issued in 2017 was 379, most of which were Russian applicants.

Chinese nationals are the most keen on applying for golden visas. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 100,000 plus Chinese nationals spent more than $24bn on residence by investment programmes over the last decade.