Source: Invest in Greece
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With a new vision for development, Greece aims to attract foreign direct investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, energy, tourism, agriculture and other sectors through flexible and fast administrative procedures, and by promoting its natural resources, well-educated human capital and other unique comparative advantages in the broader South-Eastern European region.
Greece has set up a flexible and fast procedure for non-EU/ EEA foreign investors who wish to obtain an entry visa and a residence permit for the purpose of investment activity in Greece. Residence permits can also be granted to company executives involved in the implementation and/or the operation of the investment project. Up to 10 permits may be issued for an investment project (investors and executives), depending on the investment scale.
The investment activity may be implemented through the construction of new facilities (greenfield investments) or business acquisitions, restructuring as well as expansion of current activities (brownfield investments), provided that it has a positive impact on the national economy.
Residence permits offered to investors and executives can be renewed every five years, as long as they maintain their position in relation to the investment and the investment continues to be active. In addition, they may be accompanied by their family members - spouse, unmarried children up to the age of 21, and the first degree ascendants of the spouses - who are also beneficiaries of the right to enter and obtain a residence permit.
For information about the application process contact Valmas Associates in the relevant section of our website.
According to Greek Law:
A long-term visa (national visa / D-type visa) is an authorization issued by the Greek consulates for the entry and stay on Greek territory of non-EU/EEA citizens for a period exceeding 90 days and up to 365 days, according to the respective national regulations or European Union law.
A residence permit is an authorization issued by the Minis- try of Migration Policy for the legal residence within Greek territory of non-EU/EEA citizens, in accordance with the pro- visions of European Union (Council Regulation (EC) 1030/02, as applicable). There are different categories of residence permits and different types of permits within each category. Employment rights depend on the type of permit issued.
The legal basis of the program concerned (entry and residence for investment activity) is found in Article 16 of Law 4251/2014, as amended and completed by Article 8 (par. 21) of Law 4332/2015 and Article 84 (par. 1 to 6) of Law 4399/2016.
Details concerning the program implementation, such as the minimum required investment, the procedure and the required documentation, are determined by a Joint Ministerial Decision.
Beneficiaries of the residence permit for investment activity
Beneficiaries of the right to enter and obtain a permanent residence permit under this program are:
a) non-EU/EEA citizens who intend to invest in Greece (investors), either personally or through a legal entity, provided that their investment project meets the conditions set by the legal framework, as outlined below.
b) non-EU/EEA citizens, company executives, involved in the implementation and/or the operation of the investment project described (upper management, middle management or experts necessary for the project). The above provision for non-EU/EEA citizen company executives also applies with the same preconditions to domestic established enterprises which are currently in operation and implement a new investment.
Up to 10 permits may be issued for investors and executives for an investment project, depending on the investment scale.
c) Family members of the non-EU/EEA citizen described above who are granted a residence permit and specifically:
- The spouse,
- The other spouse or partner with whom a third-country national has a cohabitation agreement in Greece,
- Their unmarried children up to the age of 21,
- The unmarried children of the dependant or his/her spouse up to the age of 21, provided that the right of custody has been legally granted to the sponsor for his/her children and to the other spouse for the children thereof,
- The first degree ascendants of the spouses. These family members are granted residence permits for family reunification which does not include access to employment.
Duration-Renewal of the residence permit
The residence permit for investment activity (for investors or executives) is granted for a five-year period and is renewed every time for an equal duration, provided that the beneficiary maintains the status (investor or executive) in relation to the investment and that the investment continues to be active.
For the family members concerned, their residence permit expires upon the expiry of the sponsor’s residence permit. Note that the unmarried children of the applicant who are originally admitted to the country under the terms and requirements of the residence permit for investment activity are granted residence permits for family reunification until the age of 21.
Children reaching the age of 21 are entitled to an autonomous residence permit up to the age of 24 without specific preconditions. This permit is not linked to the status of the family sponsor. After the age of 24, further renewal is possible according to pertinent national immigration legislation.
The cost for the issuance of a national entry visa is €180.
The fee for the issuance of a five-year residence permit or for its renewal is €2000 for investors and company executives, and €150 for their family members. Minor children (under 18 years old) are exempted from this fee.
The fee for the issuance of the electronic residence permit is €16.
Conditions for the investment activity
Residence permits for investment activity are granted to non- EU/EEA citizens (investors or executives) in the context of the implementation of an investment project following a positive assessment of the investment by the Directorate for Foreign Capital at the Ministry of Economy and Development.
a) Investment activity
There are no restrictions regarding the sector of activity or the location of the investment project. The requirement that must be met by the investment is to have positive impact on national development and the economy.
Investment activity may be implemented through the construction of new facilities (greenfield investments) or business acquisitions, restructuring or expansion of current activities (brownfield investments). Factors taken into account for assessing the impact on national development and the economy are job creation, promotion of domestic resources and vertical integration of domestic production, export orientation, innovation and adoption of new technology.
b) Investment cost
The legal framework does not set specific limits regarding the total cost of the investment project.
However an investor applying for a residence permit under this program should contribute to the investment with an amount of at least €250,000, available through own funds.
In addition, the number of permits for executives allowed for each investment project depends on the amount of the total investor contribution.
Finally, the total number of residence permits allowed for an investment project cannot exceed 10 (for investors and executives).
Process for granting a residence permit for investment activity
a) Entry requirement to apply for a residence permit
To apply for a residence permit for investment activity, non- EU/EEA citizens must:
- either enter the country on a national visa (type-D) issued for investment purposes by the competent consular authority, which is valid for up to one year; or
- already legally reside in the country and hold a residence permit either under a definite residence permit or a visa or a residence permit granted by another EU Member State (in this case Schengen rules for temporary stay in a member state apply) or a long-term residence permit (2003/109/EC) granted by another EU Member State. In this case, the in- vestment activity should have been approved prior to the application for the residence permit and non-EU/EEA citizen should legally reside in the country at the moment of submitting the residence permit’s application.
b) Granting an entry visa
In order to obtain a national visa (type D) for investment purposes, the non-EU/EEA citizen (investor or executive) or his proxy submits an application to the competent Greek consulate, enclosing the necessary documentation for the applicant and the investment project.
Family members have the option of entering the country at the same time with the applicant from whom they derive their residence rights (sponsor) or at a later date, and should also be issued the appropriate entry visa.
Documentation for investment project (documents a, b and c) should be submitted in printed and electronic form, in Greek (documents issued in other languages should be accompanied with an official translation). In case of difficulty submitting the above information in electronic form or in Greek, assistance can be provided by the Greek consulates.
The consular authority will forward the above documentation to the competent department at the Ministry of Economy and Development for assessment with respect to conditions set by the legal framework. The positive opinion of the above department regarding the investment project is necessary for granting the entry visa.
A. GENERAL DOCUMENTATION FOR GRANTING A NATIONAL VISA (type- D)
a) A passport or other travel document recognized by Greece, with a period of validity which must exceed by three months the expiry date of the visa, having at least two blank pages and issued within the previous ten years.
b) Travel insurance with a duration covering at least the entire visa period and providing coverage of costs which might arise in case of repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical care and/or emergency hospital treatment.
c) Criminal record certificate issued by the foreign authorities certifying the criminal record status of the applicant in the country of his/her residence. In cases where the applicant has lived in a country other than that of his/her origin for more than a year before lodging the entry visa application, the consular authority may request a criminal record certificate issued by the country of origin.
d) Medical certificate issued by a recognized state or private institution, showing that the person concerned does not suffer from a disease that could pose a threat to public health, as defined by the international data of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union acquis, nor from any other infectious, contagious or parasitic diseases that impose measures to protect public health.
B. DOCUMENTATION FOR INVESTMENT PROJECT
a) Presentation of the investment project to include:
- Details of the existing company or one to be established to pursue the investment activity (name, type of legal entity, share-holder / corporate structure)
- Description of the investment project
- The location of the investment project
- The investment budget and its financing structure
- A timetable for implementation of the investment
- The forecasted results for the first five years of investment (feasibility study and cash flow forecast)
- The total number of jobs to be created by the operation of the investment
b) Information concerning the applicant in relation to the contribution to the investment which includes :
- A brief curriculum vitae
- The applicant’s position and occupation relative to the investment project
- The duration of residence in accordance with the investment implementation
The above (a and b) should be presented and documented in accordance with the relevant forms available on the website of the program, taking into account the instructions and notes provided on them.
c. Documentation for investors’ own funds
The documentation of the investor(s)’ ability to fulfill the requirements for own funds should be based on quarterly statements-certificates of bank deposits or securities for individuals, and balance sheets and other financial statements for legal entities.
c) Application for the residence permit
A non-EU/EEA citizen who has entered the country with a national visa (type-D) for investment purposes should complete the required process for applying for the residence permit before the expiry of the entry visa.
In the meantime, visa holders will be able to undertake legal acts and conduct transactions with the competent authorities.
The application and the necessary documentation for a residence permit are submitted in person or by a legal representative to the Directorate for Migration Policy at the Ministry of Migration Policy in Greece. Authorization shall be proven in writing by having the authenticity of the authorizing person’s signature verified by any public authority.
Since February 20th, 2017, a new procedure for granting non EU-EEC nationals residence permits in Greece was launched, pursuant to Regulation (EC) 1030/2002, as valid, under which all EU Member States will issue an electronic residence permit, which will replace the sticker, typically affixed in a valid passport.
Family members have the same obligation pertaining to the collection of biometric data. The requirement to provide their fingerprints applies to all third-country nationals over six (6) years old, and the digital signature requirement applies to all citizens over the age of twelve (12) years.
d) Exceptional Procedures for non EU/EEA citizens who legally reside in Greece (Law 4399/2016)
In order to facilitate the process for non EU/EEA citizens who intent to invest in Greece and legally reside in the country, either under a definite residence permit, or a visa, or a long- term residence permit (2003/109/EC) granted by another EU member state, it is possible for them to submit an application with the documentation of the investment project to the authorities in Greece. This application is submitted to the Directorate of Migration Policy (Ministry of Migration Policy), which forwards it to the component department for its required relevant opinion (Ministry of Economy and Development. After the issuance of a positive opinion, the respective non EU/EEA citizen, under the precondition that he/she legally resides in the country, shall submit an application for a residence permit along with all the necessary documentation as described below.
e) Provisions during the application processing period
The authorities receiving the application and all the necessary documentation issue a certificate valid for one year which constitutes an evidencing document/certificate of legal residence of the person concerned in the country. Until the residence permit is issued Certificate holders are entitled to all benefits of the residence permit they have applied for. Hence, they can proceed with any legal formalities related to their investment and can contact with all the relevant authorities. Once the Directorate for Migration Policy at the Ministry of Migration Policy verifies that the application fulfills all necessary conditions, a five-year residence permit is granted.
DOCUMENTATION FOR RESIDENCE PERMIT APPLICATION
- Application form
- Four (4) printed digital passport photos, also stored in digital form(CD)
- A fee paid and obtained through the “e-paravolo” platform ac- cording to article 38 par. 6 of Law 4546/2018, which amounts to €2000 for residence permits of up to a five year duration for investors and company executives (code 2112). For family members the fee amounts to €150 (code 2107). Minor children (under 18 years old) are exempted from this fee;
- A positive assessment of the investment by the Directorate for Foreign Capital at the Ministry of Economy and Development.
- Certification by the competent national insurance agency that the applicant has applied for the required insurance
- A fee paid and obtained through the “e-paravolo” platform ac- cording to provisions of Law 4018/2011 article 1, which amounts to €16 concerning the printing of the separate document (electronic residence permit).
- Certified copy of a valid passport or travel documents recognised by Greece and with the relevant valid entry visa, where required;
For executives: the contract of employment
For family members: Declaration for their marital status
Renewal of residence permits
The required renewal (every five years) of the residence permit is a simple procedure, as long as the beneficiary maintains his status in relation to the investment, which must continue to be active.
The application and required documents are submitted in person or by proxy to the Directorate for Migration Policy at the Ministry of Migration Policy in Greece.
DOCUMENTATION FOR APPLYING FOR RENEWAL OF RESIDENCE PERMIT
A. GENERAL DOCUMENTATION
- Application form
- Four (4) printed digital passport photos also stοred in digital form (CD)
-Certified copy of a valid passport or travel documents recognized by Greece
-Certification by a national insurance agency for the cost of hospitalization and medical care.
- A fee paid and obtained through the “e-paravolo” platform according to article 38 par. 6 of Law 4546/2018, which amounts to €2000 for residence permits of up to a five year duration for investors and company executives (code 2112). For family members the fee amounts to €150 (code 2107). Minor children (under 18 years old) are exempted from this fee;
B. SPECIFIC DOCUMENTATION
- Solemn declaration (officially certified) by the applicant or the legal representative of the investment activity that it is still in operation or that the current activity being pursued is a continuation or evolution of the initial business.
- Tax clearance certificate
- License for the operation of the company/business.
- Employment contract
- Tax clearance certificate
For family members
- Declaration by the sponsor that the family status has not changed - Tax clearance certificate and insurance certificate of the sponsor - Copy of the birth certificate for any child born in Greece
The submitted foreign documents must be certified and officially translated into Greek.
There are two types of certification:
a. The apostille stamp provided by the relevant foreign authority on the foreign document for countries that are parties to the Hague Convention, and for which Greece has not is- sued a warning;
b. Certification by the Greek consulate in the country of origin of the document for any countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention.
Foreign public documents can be translated:
a. By the Translation Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in Greece (Athens); or
b. By an attorney who is a member of a Greek bar association and whose signature must be certified by the bar association.
During the residence permit renewal, the applicant must provide again his biometric data (digital photographs and fingerprints).
Third country nationals who have already been provided with a residence permit in the form of a sticker affixed on their passport, do not need to replace it with the electronic residence permit, as this will be acceptable for all transactions both within Greece and in other member-countries of the EU until its expiry. Its re- placement with an electronic residence permit will be carried out either at its renewal or if necessary at the re-issue which can take place due to loss of the passport on which it is affixed.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer to collect the documentation?
There is no legal requirement to collect and process the documents through a lawyer. In cases where the applicant does not speak Greek and/or is located outside Greece, it may be preferable to ask for assistance from a legal representative or a proxy who is in Greece to facilitate the process.
2. Who is considered a family member?
According to the law, family members of non-EU/EEA citizens entering the country are:
- The spouse,
- The spouse or partner with whom a third-country national has a cohabitation agreement in Greece,
- Their unmarried children up to the age of 21,
- The unmarried children of the dependant or his / her spouse up to the age of 21, provided that the right of custody has been legally granted to the sponsor for his/her children and to the other spouse for the children thereof,
- The first-degree ascendants of the spouses. These family members are granted residence permits for family reunification.
3. Can my relatives in the ascending line (namely my parents and my spouse’s parents) or my children who are over the age of 18 accompany me, and be included in the family provision?
First degree ascendants of the spouses are included in the provision above. Unmarried children up to the age of 21 are granted a residence permit for family reunification. When they turn up 21, they are able to receive an autonomous residence permit up to the age of 24, renewable under pertinent immigration legislation.
4. Can I travel to other countries within the EU with the residence permit for investment activity? Are there any conditions related to this?
Yes. Holders of a residence permit are able to travel to other Member States for up to three months within a six-month period according to Schengen Borders Code.
5. Does the residence permit for investment activity give access to labour market? Can my family members work in Greece?
The holders of a residence permit have access to the exercise of investment activity (as legal representative, president, board member or chief executive officer), while the executives of the investment have access to dependent employment for the needs of the investment. The family members of the investor are not granted access to the labor market, while the family members of the executives have the same access to labor market as the sponsor.
6. Does the residence permit give me the right to apply for citizenship?
According to the decision of the Minister of Interior no. 130181/6353/27.3.2018, published in the Government Gazette 1208/Β/2.4.2018, the residence permits of Real Estate Owners and Investors have been added to the categories of residence permits that are eligible for the submission of an application for the acquisition of Greek citizenship. In this case, the applicants must fulfill all the preconditions of the Greek Citizenship Code applied for the acquisition of Greek citizenship by naturalization. The above ministerial decision applies only to investors them- selves, and not to company executives and family members, who must first obtain the long-term residence status, which is a prerequisite for naturalization.
7. What is the arrangement regarding access to education and health services? Can the children of the residence permit holder attend a Greek public school?
The holders of the residence permit have access to public education equal to nationals. Regarding access to health services, non-EU/EEA citizens and their family members who fall under the regulations of the current immigration law must have national or private -if provided by national legislation- insurance that covers their healthcare and medical care expenses.
8. Can I purchase a car with Greek license plates for my transportation needs in the country?
Yes, under the specific regulations of the Ministry of Transport which apply to non-EU/EEA citizens.
9. Is it required by the investor to prove financial adequacy?
The appropriate documentation is required for all investors (individuals and legal entities) participating in the financing of the project (not only for the individuals applying for residence permit), proving their ability to pay their own funds.
10. If 8 non-EU/EEA citizens decide to invest €2,000,000 in a business in Greece, are all investors and 2 executives entitled to a residence permit?
Each investor who participates in the financing of the project with an amount of his own funds of at least €250,000 is entitled to a residence permit. So if the investors participate equally with the above amount (i.e. each one by €2,000,000/8 = €250,000), all of them are entitled to a residence permit (provided that the total number of permits for investors and executives does not exceed 10).
However, if one investor participates more than the others, investors participating with own funds of less than €250,000 cannot be granted a residence permit under this program.
According to legislation, for investments (investors’ contribution) from €1,000,001-€3,000,000, 2 residence permits may be issued for executives (provided that the total number of permits for investors and executives does not exceed 10). Therefore, even if residence permits are granted to all eight investors, residence permits can also be issued to 2 executives since the total number (8+2) does not exceed 10.
11. What happens in cases where someone tarnishes their criminal record, either in their country of origin or in Greece, during the period their residence permit is valid?
This leads to the revocation of the residence permit.
12. Does the residence permit continue to be valid if the business activity is transferred/terminated?
In cases when the business activity is transferred/terminated, the non-EU/EEA citizen loses the right to reside in Greece on the basis of this residence permit.
For more information contact Valmas Associates in the relevant section of our website.
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About the Author |
Ioannis Valmas LLB, LLM, (MSc) is Managing Partner at Valmas Associates and a Greek trial attorney and legal advisor that has represented – almost exclusively – since 2008, overseas clients (from government bodies to private individuals) for their administrative, business and personal legal matters in Greece gaining a stellar reputation abroad. He has lived abroad for almost a decade and earned several degrees from UK Universities. He has attended seminars at US Universities (Harvard and Stanford Law Schools). He has been a member of the Athens Bar Association for over a decade. He is appointed before the Court of Appeals and licensed to practice law throughout the territory of the Hellenic Republic, Greece. His writings on Greek Real Estate Law, Aviation Law and Shipping have been widely published in recent years by publishers in Greece and abroad.