Investment Paths for Business Immigration to Europe

Business Man Holding Immigration Sign

Are you a professional or a high net-worth individual intrigued by investment paths for business immigration to Europe? You’re in the right place. We will walk you through Europe’s attractive citizenship and residency by investment programs, clearly outlining the benefits, financial commitments, and legal frameworks involved.

From Portugal’s Golden Visa program to Malta’s Individual Investor Program, we’ll help you find the best fit for your business investment aspirations. You’ll learn about the advantages European citizenship or residency could bring to your business, personal life, and overall well-being. Let’s navigate these investment paths together and embrace Europe’s exciting opportunities.

Why Europe is an Attractive Destination for Business Immigrants

Europe’s robust economy, political stability, and high standard of living have always drawn business immigrants. The continent’s appeal is further boosted by the access it provides to a vast and diverse market. Recent changes in European migration policies have made it even more attractive to highly skilled immigrants, who are now warmly welcomed in many EU countries.

The European Union has taken steps to address labor-market shortages. It has adopted a dual approach that encourages intra-EU labor mobility and attracts migrants from outside the EU. However, internal mobility within the EU is still low, especially when compared to countries like the US, Canada, or Australia. This has led to the creation of programs like the Blue Card Directive, specifically designed for highly-skilled immigrants and approved by Member States in 2011.

Citizenship and Residency By Investment in Europe

One of the most popular options for business immigration to Europe is through investment programs that offer citizenship or residency. These programs are available in several prominent European countries, including Portugal and Malta.

For example, Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers citizenship to investors who make a significant investment in real estate, job creation, or capital transfer. On the other hand, Malta’s Individual Investor Program requires a contribution to the National Development and Social Fund, paying taxes, and investing in real estate and government bonds.

Residency by investment programs are also popular in Europe. Some of the most sought-after programs are Portugal’s Golden Visa, Spain’s Investor Visa, and Greece’s Golden Visa. These programs offer residency to investors who make a qualifying investment in real estate, public debt, real estate investment trusts, or business projects.

The key benefits of obtaining European citizenship or residency through these programs include:

  • Freedom of movement within the Schengen Area.
  • Access to world-class healthcare and education.
  • Potential tax incentives.

However, you’ll need to consider the financial commitment required, the due diligence processes, potential double taxation, the residency requirements, and the need to establish genuine links or ties to the chosen country.

Portugal, Europe, At Sunset Over Water

The Most Popular European Citizenship By Investment Program For Business

Malta’s Citizenship by Investment Program

Malta’s Citizenship by Investment Program, also known as the Malta Individual Investor Program, is a viable option for business professionals. There are three investments that applicants need to make to gain citizenship by investment:

Non-refundable Contribution (National Development and Social Economic Fund):

To gain citizenship in Malta after living in the country for 36 months, investors must make a non-refundable donation of €600,000 (USD 655,000) for the main applicant plus €50,000 (USD 54,000) for each additional dependent. However, if investors have only lived in Malta for 12 months, the non-refundable contribution increases to €750,000 (USD 818,000) for the main applicant and €50,000 (USD 54,000) for each dependent.

Real Estate Investment:

To gain citizenship in Malta through the acquisition of property, investors must also purchase a residential property in Malta with a minimum value of €700,000 or rent a property with a minimum annual rent of €16,000. Investors must keep this property for at least 5 years from the date of receiving Maltese citizenship.

NGO Donation:

Investors must make a non-refundable donation of €10,000 to a registered NGO or society within Malta is requisite.

By meeting all three of these requirements and passing the rigorous due diligence checks, individuals are eligible to apply for their Maltese Citizenship by Investment.

Ireland’s Citizenship By Investment Program

Enterprise Investment:

To gain citizenship in Ireland, applicants must make a minimum investment of €1 million in an Irish enterprise for at least three years. The investment can be made either directly into a single Irish enterprise or spread over several enterprises. The enterprises can be start-ups or existing businesses.

Investment Fund:

Applicants also have the option to invest €1 million in an approved investment fund for a minimum of three years. These funds are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and must be committed to investing in Ireland, contributing to the economy, and creating jobs.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs):

A minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange will also qualify applicants for citizenship. The investment must be held for at least three years, and investors can spread the investment across several different Irish REITs.


The last option to gain citizenship in Ireland is to make a non-refundable contribution of €500,000 to a public project benefiting the arts, sports, health, cultural, or educational fields. The amount is reduced to €400,000 if the investment is made collectively with other investors, where each investor contributes at least €400,000 to reach a minimum investment pool of €2 million.

Popular European Residency By Investment Programs for Business

Malta’s Residency By Investment Program

Real Estate Purchase:

Applicants have the option to gain residency in Malta by acquiring property in the country. The property must be valued at a minimum of €300,000 if located in the South of Malta or Gozo, or €350,000 in other areas of Malta.

Property Lease:

Alternatively, applicants may choose to rent a property instead of purchasing it. This involves leasing a property with a yearly rental cost of €10,000 in the South of Malta or Gozo, or €12,000 in other Maltese regions.

In addition to one of these investments, applicants must also pay a €40,000 government administration fee, donate €2,000 to an NGO, and contribute €28,000 to the Maltese economy if they choose to purchase a residential property, or €58,000 if they choose to lease a property.

Portugal’s Residency by Investment Program

The Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, commonly known as the Residency by Investment Program, is another enticing opportunity. This program offers residency to non-EU nationals who invest in various sectors.

Real Estate Investment (Ending Soon):

In order to gain residency by investment in Portugal, you must make a real estate investment of more than €500,000.

In less densely populated areas, the minimum investment decreases to €400,000. Additionally, acquiring older properties in need of at least €350,000 in renovation expenses also meets the criteria.

Capital Transfer (Ending Soon):

Another pathway to residency in Porgual is transferring at least €1.5 million into Portugal’s economy.

Business Investments:

To qualify for residency in Portugal, you can either establish 10 new full-time positions in a business you own or invest at least €500,000 and ensure the creation of five full-time jobs for a minimum of three years. Additionally, if the business is located in a low-density area, creating just eight full-time jobs is also sufficient for qualification.

Contribution towards National Heritage and Research Activities:

Another way to gain residency in Portugal is to invest a minimum of €250,000 in preserving national heritage sites or a minimum of €500,000 in funding research initiatives.

This program offers visa-free entry to the Schengen Area in Europe and necessitates an average annual stay of just seven days in Portugal over five years. Its flexibility is ideal for business professionals who travel often.

Greece’s Residency By Investment Program

Greece’s Golden Visa program is also a popular choice. This program offers immediate five-year residency to you and your immediate family members and free travel in the Schengen Zone. To qualify, you’ll need to make a significant contribution to the Greek economy through one of several investment options.

Real Estate Acquisitions:

In Greece, a minimum property investment of €250,000 (USD 278,504) is generally sufficient to qualify for the Golden Visa. However, in sought-after locations such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini, the minimum investment requirement is €500,000 (USD 556,435).

Greek Government Bonds or Shares:

For those interested in financial securities rather than physical real estate, an alternative is to invest a minimum of €400,000 (USD 445,231) in Greek government bonds or in shares of companies operating in the Greek real estate sector.

Venture Funds and Private Equity Investments:

For investment in assets with high growth potential, you can opt to invest €400,000 (USD 445,231) in venture capital funds or private equity firms based in Greece that focus on such assets.

Each of these programs has unique benefits and requires different levels of investment. You’ll also need to consider the financial commitment, the due diligence processes, and potential tax implications. Keep in mind while these programs offer a path to citizenship or residency, outcomes aren’t guaranteed and depend on individual application processes.

Spain, Europe, Waterfront In The Evening

Key Benefits of European Citizenship/Residency For Business Owners

If you’re contemplating broadening your business horizons, Europe’s strong economy and attractive incentives make it an ideal destination. Here are some of the advantages you could reap with European citizenship or residency.

Unrestricted Travel within the Schengen Area

A significant advantage of European citizenship or residency is the unrestricted travel within the Schengen Area. This privilege allows you to reside, work, and travel in any of the 26 countries that constitute this zone. This flexibility can open a plethora of opportunities for your business, enabling you to penetrate new markets, establish international collaborations, and recruit from a diverse workforce.

Tax Incentives for Business Owners

Europe is renowned for its enticing tax incentives aimed at fostering innovation and business expansion. Numerous European countries provide tax deductions for research and development (R&D) activities, which can considerably reduce your company’s tax burden.

For instance, the Netherlands’ Innovation Box, Norway’s SkatteFUNN scheme, and Ireland’s Knowledge Development Box (KDB) all offer substantial tax reductions for qualifying innovative activities. Even Sweden, which doesn’t provide a lower corporate tax rate through a patent box, promotes R&D investments with the Forskningsavdrag tax credit.

These tax benefits can significantly impact your bottom line and stimulate your company’s growth and innovation.

Taxes in Malta

Taxes in Malta are structured to attract foreign investment and provide potential benefits to those acquiring Maltese citizenship. Individuals residing and domiciled in Malta are taxed on their worldwide income. However, those who are residents but not domiciled in Malta pay taxes only on Maltese income or foreign income brought into the country, exempting them from taxes on capital gains and foreign income not received in Malta.

Non-residents are taxed solely on income earned in Malta, with rates ranging from 0% to 35%, the highest bracket starting at over €60,000 annually. Malta offers tax reliefs like reduced rates for part-time workers, exemptions for artists, and parent rates for residents with dependent children.

Additionally, Malta’s double taxation agreements help prevent double taxation and encourage international trade and investment.

Netherlands’ Innovation Box

In Norway, you only have to pay 9% corporate income tax over the profits listed in the innovation box instead of the normal corporate tax rate. To be eligible for this, you must apply for the Wet Bevordering Speur- en Ontwikkelingswerk (WBS0). Under the WSBO, you can make profits from your innovation.

Norway’s SkatteFUNN Scheme

SkatteFUNN is an R&D (Research and Development) tax incentive scheme where companies that create jobs and are tax-eligible can receive tax relief. Under SkatteFUNN, companies can apply for a deduction of 19% for any costs they have incurred.

Ireland’s Knowledge Development Box

Suppose your company is successful in applying for the Knowledge Development Box (KDB). In that case, your company can receive a deduction of 50% off your taxes on qualifying points. This means your qualifying points will only be taxed at a rate of 6.25%.

Sweden’s Forskningsavdrag

Sweden’s Research and Development (R&D) program gives a reduction of social security contributions paid by the company of up to USD 109,682.96 each month.

Access to World-Class Healthcare and Education

Another significant benefit of European citizenship or residency is access to top-tier healthcare and education. Europe’s healthcare systems are globally recognized for their excellence, providing you and your family with a sense of security.

Additionally, Europe boasts numerous esteemed educational institutions, providing excellent opportunities for your children’s education. This access to healthcare and education and the potential for successful business expansion make Europe an attractive destination for business owners like you.

Malta, Europe, Waterfront Cityscape With Boats

An Alternative: The Schengen Business Visa

The Schengen business visa presents another avenue for short-term business immigration to Europe. This type of visa allows professionals to enter the Schengen area for up to 90 days to conduct business activities.

To obtain a Schengen business visa, applicants must provide documentation, including a visa application form, valid passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance, proof of residence permit, accommodation, financial means, visa fee, cover letter, and proof of employment. The Schengen business visa allows multiple entries into the Schengen area within the 90-day days.

The application should be submitted to the consulate or embassy of the country where the most time will be spent, and processing takes around ten business days on average. During its validity, the Schengen business visa allows successful applicants for permanent residence permits to work and travel within the 26 Schengen countries.

While less complex than residency or citizenship applications, the Schengen business visa requires careful preparation. It presents a more temporary business immigration option for those seeking short-term access rather than long-term relocation.

Greece, Europe, Ocean Cityside Popular Immigration Destination

Charting Your Course to Europe

Navigating the sea of business immigration possibilities in Europe can be challenging. Still, the potential rewards – from boosting your business to enhancing your lifestyle – are significant.

These investment programs are dynamic. Each one offers unique opportunities and benefits. As a savvy investor, you must carefully evaluate each program’s requirements, benefits, and potential implications.

Keep up-to-date with policy changes to make decisions that align with your goals. Remember that Europe’s residency and citizenship programs offer thrilling possibilities. Success ultimately depends on your careful research and dedication.

Europe is calling with its strong global economy, unique business opportunities, and superior lifestyle. With careful planning and foresight, you might soon call this vibrant continent your new home.

European Business Immigration FAQs

Can I move to Europe and start a business?

Indeed, Europe’s conducive environment for business immigrants allows you to establish your own venture. Various investment programs facilitate this process, offering a range of benefits in exchange for a financial commitment.

Which EU country is the easiest to get a business visa?

The ease of obtaining permanent residence on a business visa varies across European countries. Portugal and Malta, for instance, are renowned for their straightforward citizenship by investment programs, provided you can fulfill the investment prerequisites.

Which country in the EU is easy to immigrate to?

The simplicity of immigration largely depends on your personal circumstances and the specific criteria of each country’s immigration programs. For instance, Portugal, Spain, and Greece offer residency by investment programs that can simplify the immigration process for eligible investors.

How can I legally immigrate to the EU?

Legal immigration to the EU can be achieved through various avenues, including investment programs. Understanding the prerequisites of these programs, including the financial commitment, due diligence processes, and potential tax implications, is crucial. Establishing genuine connections to your chosen country is also essential. Remember, these programs provide a pathway to immigration. Still, they do not guarantee citizenship or residency outcomes, as these are subject to change and depend on individual application processes.

As you evaluate these options, ensure you stay abreast of the latest changes in immigration policies and investment thresholds. Comparing different programs can help you identify the most suitable option by highlighting the unique advantages of each. Real-life examples of successful investors can provide valuable insights and inspiration. However, while it’s important to avoid jargon, it’s equally important not to oversimplify the legal intricacies of these programs to prevent misrepresentation.



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Rihab Saad

Managing Director
Next Generation Equity

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