In September 2013, the Spanish parliament approved a new law allowing non-EU investors to apply for a Spanish residence permit and by extension for a Schengen visa. The objective of the law is to attract entrepreneurs to Spain and to stimulate foreign investment in Spanish real estate, public debt, and job creation.
What this all means is that real estate buyers can gain a Spanish residency visa by spending a minimum of €500,000 on a real estate property purchase or purchases in Spain.
A resident permit applicant must not have entered or stayed illegally in Spanish territory or have been refused entry to any of the Schengen countries, be 18 years or older, have no criminal record, be covered by medical insurance in Spain, and have sufficient economic means to cover personal and family living expenses. A spouse and children up to 18 years of age can secure their own visa and residence permit later so long as they too have a clean record and health insurance. In other words, it isn’t that tough.
Once granted, the initial Visa will be for one year and then after the first year, investors can apply for authorization to live in Spain for two more years, renewable for an additional two years if the investment requirements have been maintained or increased. This means the investor can buy and sell properties during this period but the investment threshold of €500,000 needs to be maintained. The renewal application must also evidence that the investor travelled to Spain at least once in the previous 12 months. This visa method will enable an investor to reside in Spain for five years with the possibility of getting permanent residency and, later on, Spanish nationality. That this visa has no minimum stay requirement for renewal means that investors can remain tax residents outside of Spain, while at the same time benefiting from Spanish residency and the freedom of unlimited travel and stays in the EU.
Spanish residency, and with that the ability to travel freely in the European Schengen area, is a major attraction for many non-EU investors, but confusion over various aspects of the program has so far kept the number of visa investors lower than anticipated. But now that the Spanish government has worked out most of the kinks, and with Spain’s economy (and real estate market) slowly working its way back, the number of those seeking these visas is rapidly increasing.