Does France Have a Golden Visa? Alternative Routes to Residency



Does France Have a Golden Visa? Alternative Routes to Residency

US blogger Rachel Lipko of When in Provence takes a look at “Golden Visas” around the world, and considers whether this would be a possible route for US citizens hoping to move to France.

When Andy and I bought our home abroad in the tippy top of the Provence region, we both went into the experience with the same mindset. At the tail end of the pandemic, a lot of our older friends were buying second homes in an attempt to make up for the past two years lost, and each one said the same thing, “I wish we would have bought our retirement home at your age, then we would be enjoying it instead of making updates and paying it off.” This set a light bulb off in our heads. As people who have long loved the idea of acquiring a second property, we considered it potentially the perfect timing.

When thinking of the location, we decided on France since I had a workable grasp of the language, and it was centrally located in Europe, making it the perfect jumping pad for other locations we’d love to visit. So, we went into the home-buying abroad process with the mindset that we were making an investment into our future and buying a place where we’d eventually retire. We both agreed that with me being a teacher and having summers off, a home we spent summers and the odd holidays in, suited our lifestyle at that moment in time.

Cut to three years later, and we are now looking at our property abroad through a totally different lens. Each time we pack our bags to return home at the end of August, a pang of anguish washes over us. With every year that passes by, we become more woven into our little community and have built a wonderful network of friends that makes leaving harder and harder each time we lock the doors.

It is also no secret that the U.S. at this moment is quite divisive. It almost feels like a bottle of champagne that has been agitated so much; everyone is on pins and needles, waiting for the cork to finally pop. With these factors at hand, we have started to look more seriously into how exactly to get past the “90/180-day” rule imposed on us by the French government and, in our extensive research, came across “The Golden Visa.” If you’re also someone thinking of moving abroad but don’t meet the laundry list of requirements of certain countries to gain a visa, read on and see if “The Golden Visa” is your ticket to living abroad.

France Second-Home Owners: Here’s How to Apply for a Temporary Long-Stay Visa

What Exactly IS the Golden Visa?

In simplest terms, a Golden Visa is a visa that is acquired by what is often referred to as a “citizenship or residence by investment.” Your “investment” varies depending on the country, but most people who apply purchase real estate or make a large investment within the country they are seeking residency

Once an applicant has made the minimum required investment, they may apply for the Golden Visa and be granted legal residence in that particular country, gaining access to that country’s school system and health care.

Why is it called a “Golden Visa?”

The name “Golden” was given to this particular type of visa strictly because of the benefits that the holder has access to, such as tax benefits, education, and healthcare.

Which Countries Offer a Golden Visa?

Sadly, France does not offer a golden visa as a route to residency (read more about the The Road to Permanent Residency in France), but if you are looking to move abroad and are open to other locations, some really incredible places do. On this list, you will find countries on almost every continent that offer the program.

A little side note: I have Portugal on the list, but there is talk of the country closing the program due to a massive surge in applicants. Spain also made the headlines recently, stating that it may end its golden visa program. Be sure to check the latest information on the official government sites before applying.


North America:


  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • Malaysia My Second Home Program
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Indonesia
  • Thailand Residence by Investment Program
  • Russia
  • Hong Kong Visa Programs



  • New Zealand
  • Vanuatu
  • Australia Business Innovation and Investment Program

What are the Benefits of a Golden Visa?

While the Golden Visa does not always provide a route to immediate citizenship, some countries like Greece and Italy do allow Golden Visa holders the chance to apply for it once they’ve lived there a certain number of years.

  • By holding this type of visa, you may work and live within the country.
  • In some cases, the visa helps applicants relocate to a country with a more stable government.
  • Gives holders access to the country’s health care system.
  • Access to all schools and universities in the country.
  • Some Golden Visas come with tax benefits such as lower income tax rates.
  • Travel becomes much easier, especially for those applicants applying with in the European Union. If granted a visa, holders are then able to move freely between the boarders of the entire European Union without having to obtain any special visas to do so.

How Long is the Golden Visa Valid?

Most visas last between 1-2 years with the possibility of renewal. However, if you live in the country for a certain number of years, in many cases you will become eligible for permanent residency.

What is Considered an Investment?

Depending on which country’s visa you are looking into, there are a few different ways you can make an investment within the country you are applying. Investments include:

  • Real estate is the most popular route for people applying and is allowed though most of the countries who offer the Golden Visa. Some countries even allow holders to rent out their properties, producing income for the visa holder.
  • A charitable donation can be given to support topics such as the arts, research or that countries culture. These are considered non-refundable.
  • A business investment, which could include the applicant setting up their own new business venture abroad or investing in a business currently located within the country.
  • And lastly the purchasing of stocks or government bonds also counts as an investment in the country you are applying to.

How Much of an Investment Would I be Making?

That is completely dependent on which country you apply in. Thailand sits at the low-end of the scale, only asking for an investment of $25,000, while on the higher end of things, Singapore requests that investors making close to a 2 million investment in order to apply for their Golden Visa.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for a Golden Visa?

The requirements are pretty simple, and these apply to most countries from the list above:

  • First and foremost, the money you are using to invest must be your own, meaning you cannot take out a loan to make the investment.
  • You must also be able to prove that you have legally acquired the money you are using to invest.
  • You must pass a criminal background check.
  • You must also maintain the investment, for the minimally required amount of time. As stated above, you may purchase a property that can be used as a rental depending on the country’s guidelines. In some cases, such as in Greece, after you’ve held on to the property for a certain number of required years, you are allowed to sell the property, essentially gaining your investment back.
  • And lastly, you must be able to financially sustain yourself and any family members applying with you. This is true even if you yourself don’t plan to live there.

Can Family be Included?

Yes! Anyone in your family considered a dependent can be included on your application.

Which Countries Process Applications the Quickest?

Italy and Cyprus are known to have the shortest wait time between applying and getting accepted, with both countries ranging about a 3-month processing time. Cyprus’ minimum investment is $300,000, while Italy is $250,000. Coming in a close second is Greece and Malta both average around a 6-8-month processing time. Malta’s investment is $150,000, while Greece is $250,000, which seems to be the average for most European Union countries.

Can I Get a Mortgage to Buy a Property in my New Golden Visa Country???

This is a tricky question, and the answer is yes and no. Let me explain. You must make the minimum investment to fulfill that requirement first. Once you have, then yes. For example, if you wanted to buy a home in Italy for $350,000, you would have to pay the minimum investment of $250,000 first but could take a mortgage out for the remaining balance of $150,000.

When it comes to the Golden Visa, it could be the golden ticket some are looking for in order to cut through the red tape and have the ease and ability to move abroad. While this specific visa is not offered in France, it could be looked at as an alternative route of gaining residency within several other EU countries. I am personally in the middle of obtaining my dual citizenship through the Italian government but do believe if I were to have discovered this program sooner, I would have gone this route instead. While it’s significantly cheaper to go for dual citizenship, I have been working to collect documents since the pandemic and have been a lot of the time at the mercy of government offices who are backed up and delayed. By making an investment in property, which I would like to do anyway, I could have saved myself literally years of waiting. If you have the means a Golden Visa is an incredibly smart investment, gaining you access to world class health care, top universities, and business opportunities you may not have in your home country.

Have you considered a Golden Visa

Have you investigated the process for a Golden Visa?? If so, for which country? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Happy Investing!

The information in this article is provided by the author for general information purposes only. We recommend consulting an immigration lawyer or relocation specialist in the country you wish to move to for accurate and up-to-date advice concerning visas and residency. 

Meet the author

Rachel Lipko is a 30-something freelance travel writer who is settling in to her part-time Provence life. She writes about her experiences in her blog When in Provence.

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