Residency and citizenship by investment (RBI and CBI) programs have become very familiar in recent years for South Africans who do not have ancestral ties to other countries but wish to obtain residency or citizenship. in a European country, and access to visa-free travel anywhere in the EU.
“These ‘golden visa’ programs are beyond the means of most South Africans, however, which is why we are excited about the other, much more affordable residency options now opening up around the world,” he said. said Leana Nel, Head of International Sales and Offshoring for the Chas Everitt Group.
The most popular are those generally referred to as “retirement visas”, which are for people who have a certified monthly pension or sufficient annuity income to live in the country of their choice.
They allow candidates to continue working remotely and, unlike the current RBI and CBI programs, they do not require candidates to purchase real estate.
“This makes them accessible to many more people, and the timing couldn’t be better, as the European Union Commission on Citizenship is determined to ensure that all CBI programs are phased out completely by 2025 and that Strict new rules be put in place for countries that continue to offer the RBI programs,” Nel said.
“The Commission is increasingly concerned about the opportunities that visa-free travel to the EU creates for money laundering, tax evasion and various other serious crimes.”
Nel said that the three main choices currently for South Africans who wish to obtain permanent residence by applying for a “retirement visa” are Mauritius, Portugal and Panama, and that the basic requirements for obtaining permanent residence in these countries are as follows:
Mauritius offers a 10-year occupation or residence permit to “retired non-citizens” over the age of 50 who can open a Mauritian bank account and make an initial deposit of $1,500 (R23,618), followed by $1,500 per month or $18,000 (R283,358) per year for the duration of the permit. Proof of these deposits must be presented to the authorities each year.
After three years, those who hold one of these occupation or residence permits can apply for a 20-year permanent residence permit. No purchase of property is necessary to obtain the first retired non-resident occupancy permit, and the spouse, parents and dependent children under the age of 24 of the permit holders may be included.
Non-citizen retired permit holders can also invest in a business in Mauritius although they cannot manage the business, be employed there or receive a salary. There are no restrictions on remote work.
Portugal offers the D7 residency visa to retirees or income holders who wish to live in Portugal and have sufficient passive foreign income to qualify.
Applicants must open a Portuguese bank account and be able to deposit a minimum of €8,460 (R142,085) per year per person or €12,690 per year per couple to qualify for the visa. They can buy a property in Portugal if they wish, but it is not necessary initially as long as they also have a rental contract of at least 12 months.
After that, their application will need to be reviewed by the Portuguese consulate before they are issued a four-month visa to visit Portugal and finalize the residency process with the immigration authorities.
The D7 visa confers non-habitual resident status, which includes tax exemption on certain foreign income, and access to Portugal’s public healthcare system. In addition, those with a D7 visa can after five years apply for citizenship or a Portuguese permanent residence permit valid for 10 years.
Family reunification can be done under this visa, but requires an additional application and approval from the immigration authorities in Portugal.
Panama offers the “visa pensionado” to applicants who have a lifetime guaranteed income of at least $1,000 (R15,735) per month, to be deposited in a bank account in Panama.
This can be a state pension or a certified annuity from a bank, corporation, or insurance company that has been accepted by the Panama Consulate.
Spouses and dependent children can be included in this visa, with an additional monthly income of $250 per person. However, children between the ages of 18 and 25 must be full-time students to be considered dependents.
Once approved for a pensionado visa, applicants will immediately be issued a temporary residence card and then, four to six months later, a permanent residence card valid for life and giving them access to Panama’s public health system, as well as well as many other benefits and discounts for retirees.
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