Mauritius is currently one of the least expensive options for South Africans seeking to obtain permanent residence by investment in another country – and if the European Commission has its way, the country may soon be one of only a handful left where they can do so at all.
So says Philippe de Beer, CEO of leading Mauritian real estate agency Park Lane Properties, who notes that Portugal, which has been one of the most popular residence-by-investment destinations in Europe, has announced that it is closing its “golden visa” programme in its entirety and will not be accepting any new applications at all.
“This follows Ireland’s decision to close its golden visa programme, and other European countries may well follow suit soon under increased pressure from the European Commission to shut down these schemes, which it has repeatedly stated raise inherent security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks for the member states and for the EU as a whole.”
Meanwhile, he says, it is possible for non-citizens of Mauritius to obtain immediate permanent residence by investing a minimum of $375 000 (about R6.8 million) in certain types of property – the well-known IRS, RES and PDS developments as well as Smart Cities and Ground+2 apartment developments.
“This amount is equivalent to the lowest property investment requirements among those European Union countries that do still offer residence-by-investment, and substantially less than the most expensive “golden visas”. However, in Mauritius, there are now also options to gain ordinary residence as an investor, self-employed person, professional or retired non-citizen.
“What is more, Mauritius is only a 4-hour flight from South Africa and offers a great climate and lifestyle as well as a thriving, growing economy.”
De Beer says the European Commission has been opposed to “golden visa” schemes for some time and that following the outbreak of war in Ukraine last year, it insisted that EU member states operating these programmes implement much stricter controls to prevent criminals as well as Russians and Belarusians who support the war in Ukraine from benefiting from such visas.
It also urged an immediate end to the citizenship-by-investment or “golden passport” schemes operated by Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, and they have all committed to ending these. Bulgaria's parliament has, in fact, already voted to do so.
The EU countries which still have “golden visa” programmes include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Spain and Switzerland. “But it is clearly going to become more difficult to access these, and Europe has, in any case, become much less attractive to South Africans seeking a second residency due to the negative economic and social effects of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says.
“Mauritius, on the other hand, continues to welcome non-citizens who wish to live, work, invest and open businesses on the island and to expand the country’s residency options. However, the most popular and quickest route for most South Africans who want permanent residence in Mauritius remains an investment in one of the designated real estate developments.”