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Granting and renewal of residence permits for investment activity (Article 16 of Law 4251/2014)

Iason Skouzos & Partners > Practice Areas  > Immigration Law  > Granting and renewal of residence permits for investment activity (Article 16 of Law 4251/2014)

Granting and renewal of residence permits for investment activity (Article 16 of Law 4251/2014)

C.1.        Third country nationals who have made an investment in one of the following categories are permitted to enter and reside in Greece.

  1. A capital contribution amounting to a minimum of four hundred thousand euros (400,000) to a company with registered office or an establishment in Greece, with the exception of portfolio investment companies and – without prejudice to subparagraph b – real estate investment companies, for the acquisition of shares in a share capital increase or bonds that are, at the time of issue, admitted for trading on regulated markets or multilateral trading mechanisms that operate in Greece.

The investment must be made with the intermediation of an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018[1], which provides the investment service under point 4 of Annex I Section A of the same law, or a credit institution[2], with registered office or a branch in Greece, by creating a personal investor account in the Dematerialised Securities System (DSS) of the Greek Central Securities Depository S.A.

The implementation of the investment must be confirmed by way of a certificate issued by the aforementioned intermediary, and its holding must be confirmed by means of a certificate issued by an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018, which provides the investment service under point 4 in Annex I Section A of the same law (= portfolio management), or a credit institution with registered office or a branch in Greece, with which the operator’s corresponding account is held.

  1. Capital contribution amounting to at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros, to a Real Estate Investment Company (REIC) under Article 21 of Law 2778/1999, whose object is to invest exclusively in Greece, for the acquisition of shares in its share capital increase.

During the initial stage and until the listing of the REIC in a regulated market, the implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by means of certificates issued by the company. Following the listing of the REIC in a regulated market operating in Greece, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall apply. c. Capital contribution, amounting to at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros to a Venture Capital Company (VCC) under article 5 of Law 2367/1995[3] for the acquisition of shares, or capital contribution to a Venture Capital Fund (VCF)[4] under Article 7 of Law 2992/2002 for the acquisition of shares, provided that the objective of the above Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) is to invest exclusively in companies with registered offices or establishments in Greece.

In the case of partial payment of the holding, in accordance with the Alternative Investment Fund’s operating conditions, the investor must place the remaining amount of their holding in an escrow account held with the credit institution that is the custodian of the Alternative Investment Fund.

For investments involving a capital contribution to a VCF, the investor must open a unique bank account with the above credit institution for the exclusive purpose of depositing the funds returned to the investor by the Alternative Investment Fund. The investor may proceed with disbursements from that account, provided that the sum of the remaining balance, the nominal value of the remaining investment in the Alternative Investment Fund, and the remaining balance of the escrow account under the second paragraph is at least equal to the initial investment amount for which the residence permit was granted. The implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by means of certificates issued by the Alternative Investment Fund manager as regards the investor’s holding, and by the credit institution as regards the activity of the aforementioned accounts. For investments involving a capital contribution to a Venture Capital Company (VCC), during the initial stage and until the listing of the VCC in a regulated market, the implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by means of certificates issued by the company. Following the listing of the VCC in a regulated market operating in Greece, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall apply.

  1. Purchase of Greek Treasury bonds, with an acquisition value of at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros and a residual duration, at the time of purchase, of at least three (3) years, through a credit institution established in Greece, which is also their custodian.

The implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by certificates issued by the credit institution.

  1. Term deposit of at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros in a domestic credit institution with a duration of at least one year, with a standing renewal order.

The implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by certificates issued by the credit institution.

  1. Purchase of shares, corporate bonds or Greek Treasury bonds, which are listed for trading or traded in regulated markets or multilateral trading facilities operating in Greece, with an acquisition value of at least eight hundred thousand (800,000) euros.

The investment must be made with the intermediation of an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018, which provides the investment service under point 4 of Annex I Section A of the same law, or a credit institution, with registered office or a branch in Greece, by creating a personal investor account in the Dematerialised Securities System (DSS) of the Greek Central Securities Depository S.A.

The investor must hold, with a credit institution established in Greece, a unique and exclusive account for the operations of the investment and the subsequent management transactions of their portfolio, and must not disburse any amount from the liquidation of securities, unless it is for reinvestment in the transferable securities set out in the first paragraph, so that the average annual balance of the above account does not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the initial investment amount.

The implementation and holding of the investment must be confirmed by means of certificates issued by an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018, which provides the investment service under point 4 of Annex I Section A of the same law, or a credit institution, with registered office or a branch in Greece, which holds the operator’s account, as regards the activity of the investor’s portfolio, and by a credit institution under the third paragraph, as regards the activity of the account held by the investor.

  1. Purchase of shares with an acquisition value of at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros in a mutual fund, which has been established in Greece or another country and whose objective is to invest exclusively in shares, corporate bonds or Greek Treasury bonds that are listed for trading or traded in regulated markets or multilateral trading facilities operating in Greece, provided that: (aa) the mutual fund assets amount to three million (3,000,000) euros at least; and (bb) the mutual fund and its manager are licensed by the authority supervising the capital market of the country in which it has its registered office, which, in cases of countries outside the European Union, must be a member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and have concluded a bilateral information exchange agreement with the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

Investment in the mutual fund must be made with the intermediation of an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018, which provides the investment service under point 4 of Annex I Section A of the same law, or a credit institution, with registered office or a branch in Greece, by creating an account in the Dematerialised Securities System (DSS) of the Greek Central Securities Depository S.A.

For the purposes of the mutual fund, a unique and exclusive account must be held with a credit institution established in Greece for the operations of the investment and the subsequent management transactions of their portfolio, as well as for the collection of dividends. Upon transfer of the investment amounts to the above account, the mutual fund manager must provide the credit institution with data on the shareholders and the shares connected thereto.

Without prejudice to the cases set out in the fifth paragraph, no amounts can be disbursed from the above account and the manager is required to invest the funds in the transferable securities under the first paragraph, so that the average annual balance of the account in the third paragraph does not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the nominal value of the mutual fund’s shares. The disbursement of amounts from the above account is solely and exclusively permitted for the purposes of investing in accordance with the objective of the mutual fund, for covering management expenses and for the distribution of dividends to shareholders or for the repayment of shares, on condition that – in the case of third country nationals – the shareholder has submitted to the manager a document by a competent department under point 6, which certifies that they have taken cognisance of the impending liquidation of the investment.

The implementation and holding of the investment by shareholders and the mutual fund must be confirmed by the mutual fund’s annual report, as well as by certificates issued by the mutual fund manager regarding the participation of the third country national in the mutual fund, and by an investment firm under Article 4 of Law 4514/2018, which provides the investment service under point 4 of Annex I Section A of the same law, or a credit institution, with registered office or a branch in Greece, which holds the operator’s account, as regards the activity of the mutual fund’s portfolio, and by a credit institution under the third paragraph, as regards the activity of the mutual fund account. Purchase of shares or stock with an acquisition value of at least four hundred thousand (400,000) euros in an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF), which has been established in Greece or another Member State of the European Union and whose objective is to invest exclusively in real estate in Greece, provided that: (aa) the AIF assets amount to three million (3,000,000) euros at least; and (bb) the AIF and its manager are licensed by the authority supervising the capital market of the country in which it has its registered office.

For the purposes of the AIF, a unique and exclusive account must be held with a credit institution established in Greece for the movement of funds intended for the implementation of investments and for the collection of amounts deriving from their utilisation or liquidation. Upon transfer of the investment amounts to the above account, the AIF manager must provide the credit institution with data on the shareholders and the shares connected thereto.

Without prejudice to the cases set out in the fourth paragraph, no amounts can be disbursed from the above account and the manager is required to invest the funds in real estate in Greece, so that the average annual balance of the account in the second paragraph does not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the nominal value of the AIF’s shares. The disbursement of amounts from the above account is solely and exclusively permitted for the purposes of investing in accordance with the objective of the AIF, for covering management expenses and for the distribution of dividends to shareholders or for the repayment of shares, on condition that – in the case of third country nationals – the shareholder has submitted to the manager a document by a competent department under point 6, which certifies that they have taken cognisance of the impending liquidation of the investment.

The implementation and holding of the investment by shareholders and the AIF must be confirmed by the manager’s report, which must be accompanied by an auditor’s report on the activity of the AIF, as well as by certificates issued by the AIF manager regarding participation of the third country national therein, and also by a credit institution under the second paragraph, as regards the activity of the AIF account.

  1. Cases involving participation in other forms of Alternative Investment Funds can also be added to the investment categories under point 1, in accordance with the decision under Article 136(12)(3). The objective of the Alternative Investment Fund must be to invest exclusively in Greece, and both the AIF and its manager must be licensed by the authority supervising the capital market of the country in which it has its registered office, which, in cases of countries outside the European Union, must be a member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and have concluded a bilateral information exchange agreement with the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.
  1. In the case of implementation of an investment under point 1, (a) to (f), by a legal person, then third country nationals are allowed to enter and reside in Greece based on the following:
  1. a) in the case of an investment that is at least equal to the amount set out under point 1, which is made by a domestic legal person, a third country national may enter and reside in Greece if they hold all corporate shares;
  1. b) in the case of an investment made by a foreign legal person, up to three (3) third country nationals – depending on the amount of the investment – who are shareholders or executives of the foreign legal person, may enter and reside in Greece.

The number of third country nationals under the previous subparagraph is determined, by the decision under Article 136(12)(2), based on the amount of the investment, which cannot be lower than double the minimum amount set out by case in point 1.

  1. Under the responsibility of the Foreign Funds Directorate of the Ministry of Economy and Development, in cooperation with the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, lists are compiled which include, at their request, the Real Estate Investment Companies (REIC) under (1)(b), the Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) under (1)(c), the Mutual Funds under (1)(g) and the Alternative Investment Funds under (1)(h), which meet the relevant requirements. The above lists are posted on the website specified by the decision under Article 136(12)(2).

The Foreign Funds Directorate of the Ministry of Economy and Development has the authority to certify the implementation and holding of the investments under this paragraph.

  1. The application to enter Greece as well as the supporting documents under Article 136(12)(2) must be submitted to the competent Greek consular authority in the investor’s place of residence within the year following the year in which the investment was made. Within one (1) month from their receipt, the consular authority will forward them to the competent department under the last subparagraph of point 4, in order to certify the implementation and holding of the investment. The above department will examine the supporting documents submitted to it and forward the relevant certification to the consular authority, within one (1) month from their receipt, in order to issue a national entry visa for “investment in securities or bank deposit”.
  1. A third country national who has received a national entry visa as an investor coming under this paragraph will be granted, by decision of the Minister for Migration Policy and provided that they have submitted a recent certificate issued by the competent department confirming the holding of the investment, as well as all other required supporting documents under Article 136(1), a five-year residence permit, which can be renewed for an equal period each time, provided that the holding of the investment is certified, and the other requirements for granting the permit are met.

The Migration Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Migration Policy is responsible for considering applications and issuing decisions on the granting or renewal of residence permits to third country nationals who have implemented an investment under this paragraph.

In the case of failure to meet the requirements for granting a residence permit, the latter will not be renewed or may be revoked.

Periods of absence from the country do not constitute grounds for obstructing the renewal of a residence permit.

  1. The residence permit for third country nationals as investors under this paragraph shall state the phrase “Residence permit for investment in securities or bank deposit”, while specifying the investment category under point 1 in the “Remarks” section.
  1. Third country nationals coming under the provisions of this paragraph may, by derogation from the provisions of Article 70(1), be accompanied by members of their family, in accordance with paragraph A(5).

          Children reaching the age of 21 are entitled to an autonomous residence permit for three (3) years, as set out in paragraph A(5).

  1. The residence permits issued in accordance with this paragraph do not establish a right of access to any form of labour.

D.

  1. Third country nationals who have legally entered the country with any entry visa or who legally reside in the country, provided they meet the requirements of paragraphs A, B or C, are not required to leave the territory of Greece in order to apply for a residence permit, in accordance with these paragraphs.
  1. Third country nationals who have legally entered the country with any entry visa or who legally reside in the country may submit an application to the Migration Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Migration Policy for classification of an investment under paragraph A, or for certification of the implementation and holding of an investment under paragraph C. Said application must be accompanied by the supporting documents required, as the case may be, under the decision set out in the first or second subparagraph of Article 136(12). The application will be forwarded to the competent department in order for it to make a recommendation regarding the classification or the implementation and holding of an investment, as set out in paragraph A(2) and C(4).
  1. The department making a recommendation on the investment, in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs A and C, will be responsible for monitoring the investment after the granting of the residence permit, and must notify the Ministry of Migration Policy of any changes. To this end, the investors under paragraphs A and C are required to submit, within the first two months of every year or whenever requested by the competent departments, the relevant supporting documents, as the case may be, under the decision set out in the first or second subparagraph of Article 136(12).

Applications for the granting or renewal of residence permits for investors under Article 16 of Law 4251/2014 must be accompanied by a fee of two thousand (2,000) euros (paragraph 6, Article 38 of Law4546/2018,  Government Gazette101/12.6.2018, Series I).

[1] “Investment firm”: any legal person whose regular business activity is the provision of one or more investment services to third parties and/or the performance of one or more investment activities on a professional basis. An investment firm is also defined as any natural person who has been granted relevant authorisation by another Member State, in accordance with Directive 2014/65/EU.

[2] “Credit institution”: a credit institution within the meaning of point 1, paragraph 1 under Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 575/2013 (EU L 176/27.6.2013).

[3]   A Venture Capital Company (VCC) is defined as a société anonyme whose sole objective is to acquire holdings in the capital of undertakings, which have registered office: (a) in Greece or another EU Member State or (b) in a third country, provided that the undertakings have production operations or provide services in Greece. The company must be established in accordance with the provisions of Codified Law 2190/1920 and its articles of association must indicate its sole objective, in accordance with this law. The relevant approval decision must also be notified to the Hellenic Capital Market Commission. The VCC is required to include in its company name the phrase Venture Capital Company (VCC) under Law 2367/1995

[4] A closed-end Venture Capital Fund (VCF) is defined as a collection of assets consisting of tangible or intangible transferable securities, company shares and cash. Such funds are established for a fixed duration.

*  The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge as at the time of writing. We have no obligation to update it. We accept no responsibility against any third party who is not a client of the firm and has not signed the terms of our engagement.

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