Schengen Visa News

MEPs Urge 12 EU Member States to Tighten Conditions for Issuance of ‘Golden Visas’

The EU Commission on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has called on EU member states to tighten the conditions under which they issue visas and residence permits to third-country nationals in exchange for investments.

At a meeting on Tuesday, February 15, the committee approved a report that lists several changes that the 12 member states operating the schemes must make in order to avoid any misuse of these programmes.

Noting the difference in the severity of the risks posed by ‘residence-by-investment’ schemes – which grant foreigners residency rights in exchange for a financial contribution – the draft report calls for common EU rules to harmonize standards and strengthen the fight against money laundering, corruption, and tax evasion. For the European Parliament at the meeting.

MEPs want member states to conduct more thorough background checks on golden visa applicants, as well as on their family members and the sources of the fund they wish to invest. According to the report, applicants must be screened in accordance with the EU justice and home affairs regulations and be screened in third countries.

MEPs say the requirement for minimum physical residence, active participation, quality, added value and contribution to the economy of the member state where they invest should become mandatory for applicants.

“Members of the European Parliament are also envisioning a ‘notification and consultation’ scheme to allow other Member States to object to the granting of a ‘golden visa’,” the press release adds.

The report also insists that brokers assisting golden visa applicants should be banned in the EU, claiming that they are neither transparent nor accountable for their actions. Furthermore, the EU Commission is asked to urge third countries under the visa exemption category to end their Golden Visa and Golden Passport schemes.

>> Dominica warns agents to stop luring golden visa applicants by promising visa-free travel to the EU

MEPs want Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta to end golden passport schemes

Aside from asking for new rules on granting golden visas, the report also wants to put an end to gold passport schemes in the European Union, which currently issues passports to investors. These countries are Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta. While the first two are already in the process of ending the schemes, Malta has not made any move in this regard so far.

The report’s author, MEP Sophia Enfield, said member states running such schemes were selling “what they don’t have to sell”, asserting that they were taking advantage of the EU’s reputation for profit.

“Being a citizen or resident of the European Union is at the core of what the union embodies: freedom and rights. Citizenship is a right and not a commodity to be bought and sold,” adding that these countries endanger the common security of the European Union. reported that some major Russian bankers have taken advantage of the Golden Passport program in Bulgaria, without even making real investments in this country, among them the director of Credit Suisse’s Moscow office, Dmitry Kochaev, former director of investment banking in Russia VTB Bank Capital, Roman Nagayev and the former director of the Eurasian Development Bank, Igor Vinoginov.

The report will be voted on during the next plenary session of Parliament in March.

The data shows that at least 130,000 people benefited from golden visas and golden passports between 2011 and 2019. The program is also becoming more popular among Britons, who are now choosing the EU golden visa as an alternative way to access freedom of movement in the EU bloc.

>> Britons are now choosing golden visa schemes for EU countries to take back their travel rights

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