Global Alerts

GREECE – New Immigration Law to Mean Major Changes

The new immigration law that went into effect for Greece on June 1st means significant changes for residence permits, Van Der Elst visas, and short-term residence permits. The main purpose of the law is to simplify and streamline immigration procedures. Additionally, the law seeks to provide incentives to foreign nationals that are hoping to invest, purchase real estate, or conduct economic or investment activity in Greece. The following are the main changes:

  1. All government fees for residence permits must be paid through the Ministry of Finance website. A personal access code and e-baking or a bank deposit is required.
  2. Residence permits are to be issued for two years instead of only one. Also, renewals are to be issued for three years instead of only two.
  3. Residence permits are available for third-country nationals that are involved in investment activity in Greece. Additionally, investor applications will be fast-tracked on a five-day processing schedule. Validity periods have also been extended for these residence permits: they are now initially valid for five years and may be renewed for the same amount of time.
  4. Any third-country nationals that buy property in Greece that is valued at 250,000 Euros or greater are eligible to apply for a residence permit.
  5. Short-term residence permits no longer exist. Individuals who would have applied for a short-term residence permit are now only required to be issued a visa by a Greek consulate that will allow residence for work or other purposes for a period of more than 90 days.
  6. Van der Elst visa holders and “short-term” applicants are no longer allowed to obtain residence permits. Rather, they may apply for a visa for a specific period of time, which may be more than 90 days. This visa cannot be renewed with the exception of humanitarian reasons. Dependent family members are permitted to apply for a Schengen short-stay visa, if applicable. The Schengen short-stay visa will limit the duration of their stay to 90 days in any 180-day period.
  7. The new law also facilitates the hiring of third-country nationals who are senior manager, experts, financial or legal advisors, or specialized or technical personnel by local companies, EU corporations, and third-country nationals who live in Greece and hold residence permits for independent economic or investment activity. Previously, local companies were not allowed to do this. Requirements include that the residence permit application is supported by an official recommendation by the appropriate department of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness.

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