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The Spanish golden visa

MADRID – During the meeting of the Council of Ministers last month, the ministers reached a consensus to end the practice of granting golden visas to people who purchase properties worth 500,000 euros or more. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez justified the decision by stating that the practice has caused property prices to rise to a point that it is no longer affordable for the common Spaniard.

Whether or not the golden visa program has triggered a property boom is contentious. Only 0.2 percent of all property transactions in Spain are attributed to the program. Regardless, the decision is politically-driven and will likely come to pass.

The news of the program’s impending cancellation reverberated among the Filipino community here and back in the Philippines. Filipinos are among the top ethnic groups that avail of this program.

For those unaware, the golden visa allows its holder to become a resident of Spain. As such, he can live and work in Spain and travel freely across Schengen countries without a visa. This privilege extend to the golden visa holder’s spouse and dependents.

The program is ideal as it allows children to take advantage of Spain’s excellent education system while the parents can enjoy the Spanish lifestyle and superior health care system. And since the Philippines is a former colony, Filipinos are eligible to become Spanish citizens after just two years. It is the perfect “Plan B” to hedge against volatilities.

The disappointment among Filipinos is palpable, especially among those who planned to apply for a golden visa but had not come around to doing it yet.

The good news is that the cancellation of the program is still not in effect. The law must still be amended and experts estimate that it will take at least six months to put it into effect. Until then, golden visa applications will continue to be processed and granted to qualified applicants. Thus, Filipinos intending to avail of the program can still do so if they apply without delay.

For many, buying a property in Spain for purposes of a golden visa can be tedious. It involves identifying the right property, maintaining it, dealing with the legalities, paying annual property taxes and