Today we are publishing our study on Best Golden visa programs for 2021. Previously we published the rankings in 2019, since then a lot has changed within those two years. The Covid pandemic, Brexit and other uncertainties has changed the landscape of investments.

Golden visa programs helps investors to acquire residency from day one with optional path to citizenship after some years

Our Points based score (PBS) model looks in to the merits and demerits of several Golden visa (GV) programs and assigns scores. This year we considered some of the important criteria preferred by clients/investors such as investment options, citizenship criteria, processing times, healthcare, free movement, education, passport power, type of residency and even prevailing property prices.

Here is our quick summary

  • Portugal is the No.1 Golden Visa program.
  • Ireland takes the second sport while Greece taking third place in GV rankings 2021
  • Spain takes the fourth spot with Italy in fifth spot.
  • Four countries share the sixth spot – Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Luxembourg
  • European countries dominate top spots in GV rankings for 2021

Portugal scored top marks in the rankings table for running the best golden visa program in the world and remains extremely popular due to wide range of investment options available, less strict residence and citizenship conditions, with free movement in the schengen area. Portugal is the 3rd peaceful nation in the world according to Global peace index 2020

Portugal, Ireland, Spain remain super attractive to many US and Latin american investors due to their geographic proximity to North and South America continent. Likewise Greece is much desirable to many middle east investors which is easily accessible and not far away.

Ireland moved up in rankings since last year, remains one of the best residency programs in the World. The demand for for Irish passports is at all time high post brexit and for having best educational institutions.

United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland are attractive to investors who seek settling in an english speaking country and drive on left system.

Green card programs in US and Canada scored low scores for long processing times, sometimes requiring years of wait. US,UK and Australia have fallen in rankings due to high investment thresholds, and strict residency conditions makes unaffordable to many clients.

Golden Visa Rankings 2021

Note: Canada golden visa program remains suspended until 2023

Golden Visa Rankings 2021

Rank Golden visa PBS score
1 Portugal 141
2 Ireland 129
3 Greece 123
4 Spain 119
5 Italy 117
6 Malta 112
Bulgaria 112
Luxembourg 112
Cyprus 112
7 Netherlands 109
8 Latvia 107
9 United States 105
10 United Kingdom 102
11 Canada 100
12 Australia 99
13 New Zealand 94

Ranking Factors

  • Minimum Investment – 10 points
  • Investment options (Real Estate, Donation, Business, Bank deposit, Govt bonds etc..) – 25 points
  • Processing times – 10 points
  • Temporary or Permanent Residence Permit (TRP or PRP) – 10 points
  • Citizenship time in years – 10 points
  • Must live for Citizenship? – 10 points
  • Citizenship test – 10 points
  • Residency conditions – 10 points
  • Free movement – 10 points
  • Limited Quota – 10 points
  • Education rank – 10 points
  • Healthcare – 10 points
  • HDI Rank – 10 points
  • Passport power – 10 points
  • Property prices m2 – 10 points

We will take look below in detail.

Minimum Investment

Golden visa Minimum Investment
Portugal 280,000€ Real estate
Greece 250,000€ Real estate
Malta 100,000€ Donation
Spain 500,000€ Real estate
United Kingdom 2,000,000£ Share Capital
United States 900,000$ Business
Ireland 400,000€ Donation
Bulgaria 250,000€ Bonds
Netherlands 1,250,000€ Business
Italy 500,000€ Startups
Latvia 250,000€ Bonds / Real Estate
Luxembourg 500,000€ Bonds/deposit
Canada 1,200,000$ Bonds
Australia 1,500,000 A$ Business/Funds
New Zealand 3,000,000 N$ Bonds
Cyprus 300,000 € Real estate

Real Estate Investment

While GV programs are centered around investing in property, it is important to note that Some GV programs do not allow investments in real estate market, Buyback shares in hotels are extremely popular as these are refundable investments fully paid back by the developers after 5-6 years

GV programs that offer RE investment option are assigned 5 points

Golden visa Real Estate
Portugal yes
Greece yes
Malta yes
Spain yes
United Kingdom no
United States yes
Ireland yes
Bulgaria yes
Netherlands no
Italy no
Latvia yes
Luxembourg no
Canada no
Australia no
New Zealand no
Cyprus yes


Only two GV programs offer residency through donation to Government.

  • Malta – 100K euro (98K euro Govt processing and admin fee plus 2K euro donation charity)
  • Ireland – 400K euro (joint charity endowment)

GV schemes that offer this option are assigned 5 points


Among all Golden visa programs only Malta does not have business investment option. All other GV programs have this route to seek residency.

Bank Deposit

Only these GV programs have bank deposit option to acquire a golden visa. You have to deposit cash in banking institutions and can also profit from fixed interest rates.

GV Program Bank deposit
Portugal €1 million
Greece €400,000
Spain €1 million
Luxembourg €20 million

These countries have been assigned 5 points for this perk

Government Bonds

A limited number of GV schemes have legislations to allow buying treasury issued government bonds for golden visa purpose.

GV Program Govt bonds
Portugal €1 million
Greece €400,000
Spain €2 million
Italy €2 million
Latvia €250,000
Bulgaria €512,000

These countries have been assigned 5 points for this perk

Processing times

The United Kingdom remains the fastest GV scheme in the world with visa decisions taken within 1-2 weeks. All the other programs takes months of time. European programs are faster with processing times taking between 3-6 months.

US and Canada programs take years of wait to get green card.

Golden visa Processing time
Portugal 3 months
Greece 3 months
Malta 6 months
Spain 2 months
United Kingdom 2 weeks
United States 25 months
Ireland 3 months
Bulgaria 3 months
Netherlands 3 months
Italy 3 months
Latvia 3 months
Luxembourg 2-3 months
Canada 40 months
Australia 2 months
New Zealand 2 months
Cyprus 2 months

Residence Permit

What type of residence permit issued by GV programs? This is an important question clients ask and a hallmark of Golden visa programs. The answer to this depends on the GV programs. Sometimes only temporary residence permit (TRP) with unlimited extensions or a Permanent Residence Permit (PRP) from day one.

GV programs that offer PRP score maximum 10 points and for TRP only 5 points are assigned.

Malta, Greece, Ireland, US, Canada, Bulgaria, Cyprus grant immediate permanent residency for investments. In case of Portugal GV, a PRP is granted for excess of 500k euro investments and TRP for 280k euro investments.

Portugal is one exception. Portugal grants PRP for investments over 500k euros. TRP issued for 280k euros. For our rankings we only took into account TRP permit as most investors seek the minimum 280k euro investment which are quite affordable.

Golden visa Permit (TRP or PRP)
Portugal TRP
Greece PRP
Malta PRP
Spain TRP
United Kingdom TRP
United States PRP
Ireland PRP
Bulgaria PRP
Netherlands TRP
Italy TRP
Latvia TRP
Luxembourg TRP
Canada PRP
Australia E-visa
New Zealand TRP
Cyprus PRP

TRP – Temporary residence permit
PRP – Permanent residence permit

Passport power

The Passport power in terms of visa free destinations worldwide. European Golden visa passports tend to remain most powerful in the world as of 2021.

Golden visa Passport power
Spain 190
Italy 190
Luxembourg 190
Portugal 188
Ireland 188
Netherlands 188
United Kingdom 187
United States 187
New Zealand 187
Greece 186
Malta 186
Canada 185
Australia 185
Latvia 182
Cyprus 176
Bulgaria 173

Source: Henley Passport Index

Citizenship Time

Citizenship is an important component of GV schemes. Prospective clients who apply for Golden visa see this as a long term goal.

EU citizenship or Citizenship in US or Canada is well worth the wait and effort. These are the most coveted trophies. It is also important to remember GV programs do not provide expedited path to citizenship. There are no short cuts.

Some of the necessary conditions for granting citizenship are language proficiency, civic test, no criminal record and integration

Canada has the fastest time to naturalize, that in just three years you can become a citizen.

Golden visa Citizenship time in years
Portugal 5
Greece 7
Malta 5
Spain 10
United Kingdom 5
United States 5
Ireland 5
Bulgaria 5
Netherlands 5
Italy 10
Latvia 9
Luxembourg 5
Canada 3
Australia 5
New Zealand 5
Cyprus 5

Maximum points are assigned to GV countries that have lowest number of years.

Must Live for Citizenship?

Citizenship is not easy. In many countries, it is impossible to become citizen without compulsory living for a continuous period.

Portugal is the ONLY country among all GV programs that does not impose compulsory living conditions to apply for citizenship. All other countries require you to permanently move and live for a continuous period of time of atleast 5 years before launching citizenship application.

Golden visa Must live for Citizenship?
Portugal no
Greece yes
Malta yes
Spain yes
United Kingdom yes
United States yes
Ireland yes
Bulgaria yes
Netherlands yes
Italy yes
Latvia yes
Luxembourg yes
Canada yes
Australia yes
New Zealand yes
Cyprus yes

Citizenship test

Have you heard about citizenship tests? It is another layer of checks imposed by many nations for granting citizenship. These tests could check your understanding of civic, integration or cultural knowledge.   If you hate tests, then perhaps you can pursue GV programs that dont have this test requirement.

If you look closely, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Cyprus do not have citizenship tests.  These GV schemes are assigned maximum 10 points

All other nations have this as compulsory requirement.

Golden visa Citizenship test
Portugal no
Greece yes
Malta yes
Spain yes
United Kingdom yes
United States yes
Ireland no
Bulgaria yes
Netherlands yes
Italy no
Latvia yes
Luxembourg yes
Canada yes
Australia yes
New Zealand yes
Cyprus no

Free movement

Visa Free movement at regional level is guaranteed by GV programs (for eg. The schengen area is composed of 26 states). Residence permits restrict free movement within certain region (unlike passports which can be used to cross all international borders)

It is important to note that Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus are non-schengen countries

Golden visa Free movement
Portugal Schengen
Greece Schengen
Malta Schengen
Spain Schengen
United Kingdom UK
United States US/Canada
Ireland Ireland
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Netherlands Schengen
Italy Schengen
Latvia Schengen
Luxembourg Schengen
Canada Canada
Australia Australia
New Zealand New Zealand
Cyprus Cyprus

Residency conditions

This is the minimum time (days/months) you have to visit/live to meet the GV condition. Those programs that impose zero residency conditions are assigned maximum points.

Ireland has just 1 day residence requirement, Portugal has just one to two weeks, while US/UK require you to spend minimum number of time, as your main home.

From what we have seen, investors prefer zero or no minimum residence conditions for the Golden visa schemes. This is because they not want to move or immigrate, spend as much time living at home closer to their family and business.

Golden visa Residency conditions
Portugal 7-14 days
Greece none
Malta none
Spain none
United Kingdom 9 months/yr
United States 6 months
Ireland 1 day
Bulgaria none
Netherlands none
Italy none
Latvia none
Luxembourg none
Canada 1460 days
Australia 40 days
New Zealand 145 days
Cyprus none


Education at world class institutions for children is carefully considered by wealthy families before applying for GV programs. These countries that offer GV provide world class educational opportunities.

The Education rankings provided by Education Database for 2020 which measures and rank the impact of each nation’s education system on its economic and social environment.

These are the top countries to pick when it comes to education. A number of EU countries also offer free education giving you much needed savings.

Golden visa Education rank
Netherlands 2
Ireland 4
Australia 11
United Kingdom 14
Canada 16
Spain 17
Portugal 23
New Zealand 26
United States 29
Latvia 31
Greece 32
Italy 35
Luxembourg 42
Malta 55
Bulgaria 134
Cyprus 163


GV programs that have limited quotas receive low scoring in our model.

Golden Visa Quota / year
United States 10,000
Canada 1900
Luxembourg 400
New Zealand 400

Property prices

We have also integrated property prices in our rankings model. These are the average property prices per square metre to buy an apartment in the city center from Numbeo. Higher the property prices more the points are assigned.

As you can see Luxembourg, Australia and New Zealand tend to have the most expensive property market.

Golden visa Property prices m2
Portugal €2601
Greece €1527
Malta €3526
Spain €2936
United Kingdom £4285
United States $3576
Ireland €3974
Bulgaria €2156
Netherlands €4137
Italy €3234
Latvia €1632
Luxembourg €10,522
Canada C$ 5764
Australia A$ 8343
New Zealand N$ 7029
Cyprus €1746


Covid has shown us the importance of healthcare systems. These GV nations have some of the best well built healthcare scores according to UN

Golden visa Healthcare
Portugal 94
Greece 93
Malta 97
Spain 97
United Kingdom 92
United States 83
Ireland 92
Bulgaria 63
Netherlands 92
Italy 99
Latvia 63
Luxembourg 92
Canada 88
Australia 87
New Zealand 82
Cyprus 81

Human Development

These countries tend to score very high in human development according and assigned HDI rank. Higher the rank, more maximum points assigned in our PBS model.

Country HDI Rank
Australia 3
Ireland 4
Netherlands 10
Canada 12
United States 13
United Kingdom 14
New Zealand 16
Luxembourg 21
Spain 26
Italy 28
Malta 29
Greece 31
Cyprus 33
Portugal 41
Latvia 41
Bulgaria 51


Which country has the No.1 Golden visa program?

Portugal is the No.1 Golden visa program for 2021. Lower investment requirement, path to EU citizenship and low residence conditions makes Portugal very popular GV scheme. Portugal due to its proximity to US, Canada, UK and Latin America attracts large number of property buyers from these country.

What investment options available with Golden visa programs?

Golden visa programs offer variety of investing options such as real estate, bank deposit, business investment, and also possibility in Government bonds.

Can i get citizenship through Golden visa program?

Yes, golden visa programs offer path to naturalize for citizenship after some 5 years.

Can i invest in Hotels?

Yes, you can invest in refundable buyback shares in five star hotel projects. These shares are purchased by back by the same developer after 5-6 years. You will also benefit from 3-4% yields during your investment period.

Can i apply without a personal visit?

Yes, due to covid, it is possible to start the process remotely online. You only have to visit once after your application is approved and issued a visa, which takes about 4-6 months.

Sources / References

Education rank –
WHO healthcare rankings
Henley Passport Index
Numbeo safety rankings
Worldbank data
Numbeo Property prices 2019
Wikipedia and UN HDR for HDI rankings