The coronavirus pandemic has caused a significant drop in the number of Golden Visas awarded by Greece to Chinese citizens, says a report released on Wednesday by Juwai IQI, a holding company comprised of two Asian real estate super-brands.
The report notes that 2019 was the biggest year yet for the Golden Visa, with nearly 8,000 applicants and their dependents obtaining the coveted Greek residency permit. More than 80 percent of these visa recipients are now Chinese and the program has raised more than $3 billion for the Greek nation, at a minimal cost.
However, Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel says that for 2020 the prospects do not look quite as promising.
“Because of the coronavirus, 2020 will see far fewer visas awarded. With international travel impossible and the Greek Immigration Bureau closed, there is just no way for most applicants to complete their applications or to receive their final approval,” Chmiel explains.
The report estimates that Greece has lost some $156 million in Golden Visa revenue so far this year, due to the coronavirus.
“The Greek government has been proactive, however, and instituted some reforms that will reduce some of the unnecessary red tape. But there is no chance that Greece will approve as many visas in 2020 as in 2019. We expect a surge in applications and approvals when current coronavirus-related restrictions expire, probably by the fourth quarter,” the Juwei chairman notes.
“There is no doubt that there is still a large market for Greek Golden Visas among well-off families in China. The value offered by the Greek investment visa could shift demand to Greece from less expensive programs in the Pacific and the Caribbean. Greece offers visa-free travel and residency across the Schengen area of the European Union,” Chmiel adds.
Greece has — so far — managed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. If this positive trend continues, Chmiel says, the country will win the confidence of Chinese investors.
“If the country maintains this success, it could win Chinese buyer market share from countries such as the US and UK, which have traditionally attracted more Chinese investment, but which already appear to have bungled their responses to the pandemic.”