The Immigration and Social Integration Code (Law 4251/2014) contains provisions that (1) allow for third-country individuals to reside in Greece provided that they have the financial means to support their stay; and that (2) facilitate the stay of third-country investors, representatives of investment bodies and their partners, implicated in investments characterized as strategic, via the provision of extended stay time limits for them. Of particular interest are Articles 20 A and 16, the former granting the status of Financially Independent Person, the latter granting residence permit for investment activity.
Financially Independent Person (FIP) Visa
The FIP Visa applies to non-EU citizens who want to reside in Greece and have the financial means, in way of stable annual income, to cover their living expenses during their stay. The duration of the residency permit is two years and it can be renewed every two years. The permit does not allow access to the labour market but it allows for free travel within the Schengen area.
Such third-country nationals may be accompanied by their family members to whom an individual residence permit shall be issued following a relevant application, which shall expire together with the residence permit of the sponsor. The requirement of sufficient resources shall be met either by each member of the family or for all family members as a whole.
The amount of sufficient resources is set at a minimum of 2.000 € per month. In the event that the third-country national is accompanied by a member of his family, this is increased by 20% for the spouse and by 15% for each child. Proof of income is demonstrated through documents of foreign bank accounts, pension from a foreign country or proof of financial means, of legal origin, that suffice to cover their living expenses without having to provide dependent work or work independently in Greece.
The provision allowing for the issuing of Visa for Financially Independent Person has been recently amended (Law 4686/2020) to include another requirement for the approval of the application. For the individual to acquire a FIP Visa, the law explicitly obliges him to reside in Greece for at least six months per year. This amendment can be understood if read in conjunction with the newly introduced articles of the Greek Revenue Tax Code providing for a beneficial tax regime for High-Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) willing to transfer their tax residency in Greece. For the purposes of the Greek Revenue Tax Code, an individual residing in Greece cumulatively for 183 days is considered a Greek tax resident and his global revenue is taxed in accordance to the Code’s provisions. The recent legislative additions to the Code provide HNWIs with alternative taxation status for the revenue acquired abroad and if correctly combined with the FIP Visa capability, can provide for a preferential tax regime for its beneficiary.
Residence permit for Investment Activity
Pursuant to Article 16 of Law 4251/2014, a right of entry and permanent residence permit of 5 years is issued for (1) non- EU citizens who intend to realise investments in Greece (investors), either as natural persons or through a local legal entity, provided that their investment project meets the conditions and terms set and analysed below; and, (2) non–EU/EEA citizens, company executives involved in the implementation and/or the operation of the described investment project (senior and middle executives or specialised employees necessary for the project). The residence permit allows for free travel within the Schengen area.
A right of an equal duration renewal is granted, provided that the beneficiary maintains the status (investor or executive) in relation to the investment and that the investment continues to be active.
The provision further allows for an ancillary residence permit to be issued for the family members of the beneficiary on grounds of family reunification, expiring simultaneously with the primary residence permit. For the purposes of the law, as family members are considered the spouse or partner through civil partnership, children up to 21 years old, parents and parents in-law.
For the granting of the investment activity residence permit, a thorough presentation of the pursued project needs to accompany the application. According to the law, the investment has to be of significant impact to the national economy and development, without restrictions on the sector or the location of the planned investment. The latter will be judged on the documentation supporting its feasibility and long-term effect to the relevant economic sector. Indicative information on the project should include details of the existing or soon to be established investment entity (name, legal form, shareholders composition/corporate structure), description and location of the investment project, budget and financing structure, timetable for the development and completion of the investment, anticipated results for the first five years of investment operation (sustainability – feasibility study and cash flow projections), an estimation on the number of jobs to be created from the operation of the investment.
Depending on the amount and the characteristics of the investment, up to 10 non-EU nationals may enter and reside in the country, including the investors, for the implementation and operation of the investment.