In a move similar to the controversial Golden Visa scheme of the past, Hungary’s government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is introducing residency sales for foreign investors in Hungary.
The guest investor status
According to Népszava, the residency sales form part of the “tightening” of the migration policies in response to the “crisis situation caused by mass immigration”. The revised act introduces a “guest investor status” aimed at attracting foreign investors. This status permits stays exceeding 90 days and multiple entries. Additionally, there’s an option to apply for a guest investor residence permit, facilitating unrestricted entry and exit to Hungary, akin to the now-discontinued Golden Visa programme. Read more about it HERE.
Orbán-linked real estate funds
The initiative is raising eyebrows due to its potential impact on real estate funds associated with Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz. Beneficiaries of the new programme include real estate funds connected to Tiborcz, notably the Central European Real Estate Fund (CEI) and Diófa Thales. These funds, listed among the 24 funds registered with the Central Bank, have the potential to significantly boost their turnovers.
To qualify for guest investor status, individuals must invest in Hungarian real estate funds or meet specific criteria, such as purchasing real estate worth at least EUR 500.000 or providing a grant of EUR 1 million to a designated higher education institution. As we reported earlier, there is already a record number of foreign buyers in the Hungarian real estate market. Adding to this trend, the most cost-effective route to obtaining a residence permit appears to be through investment in real estate fund units.
EU’s reservations and concerns
The European Commission (EC) has expressed reservations about investor resettlement schemes. Furthermore, they are concerned about potential issues like money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. In a recommendation issued last March, the EC urged governments to conduct rigorous checks before granting residence permits under such programmes. The EU body is particularly concerned about the possibility of sanctioned individuals from Russia and Belarus obtaining Schengen visas through these schemes.
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