The Russian ‘Golden Visa’

The Russian ‘Golden Visa’

Residence permits in return for investments are a hot topic nowadays.

Russia has a restrictive migration policy. Obtaining a Russian residence permit is not so easy. Russians citizens have made ample use of golden visa and golden passport opportunities in different countries all over the world. But only recently, however, has the Russian state also adopted legislature which lays down concrete criteria for obtaining a Russian permanent residence permit on the basis of investments.

On This Page

What is the Russian golden visa?
What Are the Criteria For Obtaining a Residence Permit Based on an Investment?

Socially Significant Projects
Founding a Russian Company That Meets Certain Conditions
Founding a Russian Company That Meets Certain Conditions

Should You Take Advantage of Russia’s Golden Visa Program?
Not the Easiest Way Towards Residence
For Whom Is the Russian Golden Visa Program a Good Fit?

Do Not Count On VIP Treatment

Conclusion

What Is the Russian Golden Visa?

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Difference between a visa and a residence permit

The term ‘golden visa’ is misleading here, because first of all, it is not a visa, but a permanent residence permit, which is a better document to have if you want to stay in Russia. The regular procedure to obtain a permanent residence permit for Russia presupposes that one first has to receive a temporary residence permit and only after that one is qualified to apply for a permanent residence permit. If a foreigners acquires a Russian residence permit on the basis of investment, he can, however, apply directly for a permanent residence permit, without having to apply for temporary residence first.

Foreigners who stay in Russia on the basis of a visa do not have the same rights and the same opportunities that foreigners residing in Russia on the basis of residence permit do. 

For example, foreigners residing in Russia on the basis of a visa cannot open a sole entrepreneurship in Russia. They also cannot make a permanent registration in Russia, meaning they have to make a new registration within 7 days every time they enter the country (only exception is the HQS visa, which grants the holder a 90 day period).

What Are the Criteria For Obtaining a Residence Permit Based on an Investment?

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The Russian government has laid down the following criteria its golden visa program:

Socially Significant Projects

  • The foreign citizen has invested at least 15 million rubles in socially significant projects in the Russian Federation during the 3 years preceding the application for a residence permit in the Russian Federation.

Of course here the question is: what is exactly a ‘socially significant project’?

A letter of the highest executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation in which this ‘social investment’ took place counts as evidence that this has been done. So, for example, if the money was invested in the city of Saint Petersburg, that means a letter from the Governor of Saint Petersburg would be required. Of course not everyone has the connections to acquire such a letter.

Founding a Russian Company That Meets Certain Conditions

Another way one can receive a permanent residence permit on the basis of investment is by founding a Russian company that meets certain requirements (active for 2 years and at least 4 million rubles in taxes paid).

The next possible criteria is also related to investments in Russian companies (investment of at least 30 million rubles and 6 million in tax:
:

Investments In Real Estate

The third criteria, which is related to investments in Russian real estate, is the most comprehensive one: foreign investors who buy Russian real estate (of any type) when it’s under construction or within 2 years after it has been commissioned are entitled to directly apply for permanent residence in Russia if their investment meets the following criteria:

Whereas these criteria are more clearly defined than investments in ‘socially significant projects’, it is of course quite a bit of work to set up a company that meets these requirements. 

  • Cadastral value not less than 50 million rubles if the object is located in Moscow
  • Cadastral value not less than 20 million rubles if the object is located in the Russian Far East
  • Cadastral value not less than 25 million rubles if the object is located in another Russian region
  • The foreign citizen has had continuous ownership of the real estate object for at least one year.
  • There should be no restrictions on the rights and encumbrances on the real estate objects during the specified period of their possession by the foreign citizen.

Why a Russian Residence Permit Could be Valuable for you

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  1. First of all if you are a citizen of a country that is currently designated by Russia as ‘unfriendly’ and own real estate in Russia obtaining permanent residence may be a way to finally be able to sell your object and take your money.

Currently all EU member states, the US and a dozen other countries are branded as ‘unfriendly’ by Russia.

  • With a residence permit, you don’t need to constantly apply for new visas. Anyone who has recently applied for a Russian visa, will have noticed, that fees have gone up sharply.
  • If you own your own apartment in Russia, you need a residence permit to get a registration that indicates that you’re living in the apartment.
    Remember, that if you are staying in Russia on the basis of a visa, even if that is a work visa, you are a person who, according to Russian law is  temporarily staying in Russia.
    And what then are the advantages of having such a registration?
    • First of all your rights will probably be a bit better protected. In Russian law there is a provision that provides that a person cannot be dispossed of his only home (unless it is mortgaged). And here Russian courts may take a very formal approach; how can this be your only home if according to Russian legal terminology you are not living, but merely temporarily staying (if you are staying in Russia on the basis of a visa) in the apartment? In such cases the registration will give you a more clear and therefore better legal position.
    • Second of all your registration with a residence permit remains valid, even if you leave the country, unlike the temporary registrations people with visa make. For people who often travel in and out of the country on the basis of a visa, the bureaucratic hassle one has to go through to make this temporary registration is a big frustration.
  • For people who have the money to obtain Russian residence by investment this will most likely not be of interest, but it should also be mentioned: with the Russian residence permit you will be able to have access to free medical care in Russia. Now, of course, many Russians with enough money do not even make use of this, since they prefer to go to commercial clinics instead. And yes, the quality of the free medical care may not always be what you would like it be like and also it’s not always completely free.
    Either way, many people do make use of this. And whereas in many regions of Russia the quality of the government hospitals is indeed very low, in big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg there certainly still are decent public hospitals.
  • With a permanent residence permit you will be allowed to work anywhere in Russia and with a temporary residence permit, you will be allowed to work in the Russian region where you obtained temporary residence. Without an additional work permit that is.

Should You Take Advantage of Russia’s Golden Visa Program?

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Whether you should or should not make use of Russia’s golden visa program depends on your personal circumstances and your evaluation of the profitability of the investment (of course, in the case of socially significant projects profitability will not be a criteria).

Not the Easiest Way Towards Residence

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For many people wishing to obtain Russian residence, the golden visa will probably not be the best way to go. This is because many people can try to obtain Russian residence, without having to make an investment. For example people who have a Russian spouse can apply for temporary residence and then, after a year, obtain permanent residence. 

Foreigners who are not married to a Russian citizen and are not the parent of a child who is a Russian citizen can try to apply for quota in order to get their temporary residence that way. Now with quota, you, of course, cannot be sure that you will receive them. But depending on your citizenship and assets you own in Russia (owning your own apartment is a plus), you might stand a good chance.

For Whom Is the Russian Golden Visa Program a Good Fit?

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For people who want to spend in Russia at least 183 days per year and who are already meeting one of the criteria in order to apply the golden visa program may certainly be worthwhile. 

Also people who are planning to move to Russia and who are considering buying an under construction property (or a recently finished one) might benefit from this program.

Admittedly, many Russian real experts are complaining that currently Russian under construction real estate is overpriced. That may or may not be true, since there are also factors at play that could lead to a further increase in their price.

Either way, real estate in most Russian cities is still considerably cheaper than in many other countries. And, if you are holding your capital in a ‘strong currency’, you could wait for a decrease of the value of the ruble before you buy.

Do Not Count On VIP Treatment

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Whereas in many countries offering golden visa programs, putting money on the table is basically the only criteria to qualify for the golden visa, this is not the case in Russia.

One of the documents that all foreigners applying for residence need to provide is proof of knowledge of Russian language, history and laws. Now, admittedly the required level of knowledge of these subjects to obtain this piece of paper is not very high. It is realistic to obtain even for people who do not yet know any Russian, but they will need to seriously study in order to do so. So do not expect a VIP treatment because you invested a certain amount of money and are allowed to apply directly for permanent residence.

Conclusion

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Whereas the criteria of the Russian golden visa program are are rather strict and the program will not be the smartest choice for many people, we believe that for some it will nevertheless be a very good fit.

If you are already matching or almost matching one of the criteria you can book a consult with us and we can assist you throughout the process.

And if you are interested in buying under construction or recently finished real estate in the city of Saint Petersburg or the Leningradskaya Oblast, we can help you to chose an object and to buy it too.

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