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Hungary Reopens Golden Visa as Guest Investor Program: Your Guide to EU Residency

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Hungary has opened its doors to international investors once again with the relaunch of its Guest Investor Program (GIP), formerly known as the Golden Visa Program.

This program, which went on hiatus in 2017, offers a residence permit in Hungary to wealthy individuals from outside the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) in exchange for investment.

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Why Hungary’s Golden Visa Reintroduction Matters?

In contrast to the trend in Spain and Portugal, where residency programs linked to real estate investments have been curtailed due to housing market pressures, Hungary’s reintroduction of the Golden Visa stands out as a significant development.

This program offers a viable option for non-EU/EEA investors seeking access to the European market amidst growing global economic uncertainties.

Benefits of the Golden Visa Program

The Guest Investor Program also known as Golden Visa, offers a compelling opportunity for non-EU citizens seeking residency in Europe. Here are some key benefits:

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1. EU Travel Freedom: Holders of a Hungarian residence permit can enjoy visa-free travel throughout the Schengen zone, encompassing 26 European countries.

2. Family Reunification: The program extends residence permits to the investor’s spouse, minor children, and even parents.

3. No Residency Requirement: Unlike some programs, there’s no minimum stay requirement in Hungary to maintain your residency permit.

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Eligibility for Guest Investor Program

To qualify for the Guest Investor Program, applicants must:

  • Be nationals from outside the EU and EEA.
  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Demonstrate a legitimate source of income.

This program not only facilitates visa-free travel across all EU nations but also allows the extension of residence permits to the investor’s immediate family, including their spouse, minor children, and parents.

Application Process

The application process for Hungary’s Golden Visa (Guest Investor Program) typically involves:

Selecting an Investment Option: The program offers three investment options: real estate investment funds (minimum €250,000), direct real estate purchase (minimum €500,000), or a non-refundable government bond investment (€1 million).

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  • Engaging an Agent: Immigration specialists can guide you through the process and ensure all requirements are met.
  • Visa Application: Applying for a Golden Visa to enter Hungary.
  • Investment Fulfillment: Completing the chosen investment option.
  • Residency Application and Biometrics: Submitting an official residency application and providing biometric data.
  • Permit Issuance: Upon successful application, residence permit cards will be issued.

Upon meeting all criteria, residency permits will be dispatched either by mail or can be collected in person.

New Immigration Laws

Hungary’s revised immigration law, which took effect on March 1, introduces notable amendments, expanding the types of residence permits from 18 to 24, with eight new categories focused on employment.

This update signifies a broader scope for employment-based immigration, reflecting Hungary’s adaptive approach to evolving labour market needs.

Key Highlights of the New Law:

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  • Specialized Work Permits: Introduction of separate permits for highly skilled and low-skilled guest workers.
  • Investor Permits: A new category dedicated to investors.
  • Abolishment of Flexible Permits: Removal of the “residence permit for other purposes” category.

Implementation Delays

Hungary’s new immigration law, though comprehensive, faces delays in execution due to the lack of specific executive decrees. As a result, the processing of new applications from third-country nationals (TCNs) is on hold, except for those of national interest.

Applications submitted before December 31, 2023, will follow old regulations, with decisions postponed until after March 1, 2024.

Changes to Guest Worker Permits

The updated guest worker residence permit targets specific job roles, limited to designated employers, select countries, and particular occupations. These permits can be extended for up to three years but do not lead to permanent residency or family reunification, focusing on meeting immediate labour market needs while managing long-term immigration effects.

Conclusion

For those interested in the Guest Investor Program, it’s crucial to stay updated on the latest developments regarding the new immigration law. Consulting with an immigration lawyer specializing in Hungarian residency programs is highly recommended.

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