The Spanish Supreme Court has lowered the requirements for non-EU foreigners to obtain Spanish residence. While in the past the golden visa was only granted to those who bought a house built with a value of more than 500,000 euros, now the door has been opened also to those foreign investors who seek to promote or build their own house on the previously bought land.

Since the so-called 'golden visas' were introduced in 2013 and until January this year 2020, the number of authorisations (i.e. initial applications and renewals) has risen to 24,533, which is more than 8,000 visas granted during 2019 alone.

This change in legislation was promoted at the time by the government of then President Mariano Rajoy, in an attempt to attract foreign capital to Spain. The regulation was intended to attract investors, entrepreneurs and highly qualified workers, and to boost the real estate market in passing at a time when the worst moments of the brick bubble were being experienced.

Thus, obtaining a visa was conditioned on the purchase of a home worth 500.000 euros or more.

You may be interested in Investing in Spain: Frequently Asked Questions.

Since 2013, more than 24,534 Express Visas have been granted

The number of 'Golden Visa' residence permits, since its launch in 2013, according to data from 31 January 2020, rose to 24,534. This figure includes initial requests and also renewals of these authorisations, according to information provided by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.

On the other hand, among the nationalities that have most requested this type of visa are China, the United States, Russia and Venezuela.

New jurisprudence

In February 2018, however, the Secretary General of Immigration and Emigration denied residence to a foreign investor who had acquired a property in the province of Girona for less than 500.000 euros.

The Secretary of the Spanish Government stated that the work carried out on the property was not considered a new investment, but the investor appealed against that decision before the Administrative Chamber of the High Court of Justice of Madrid.

Although his appeal was dismissed, the investor claimed that the total amount realised was more than EUR 1 million due to the purchase of the land and the construction of a house.

In a later appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the investor's claim, stating that there are two registers for the home, one for the purchase of the land and the other for the house.

Therefore, the decision of the court was that a 'golden visa' can be obtained "by means of the construction or promotion of a property on a plot or land previously acquired by means of a purchase-sale".

However, it maintains that the visa cannot be obtained through the purchase of a house of less than 500.000 euros and its subsequent reform.

For more information on investor visas, see Living in Spain: Investor Visa.

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