The 10 Most Popular Golden Visas in The World Last Year, According to Statistics

Momentous changes in fortune took place among golden visas last year; while one Asian investor visa program saw a 46% drop in approvals, another saw 64% growth.

Investment Migration Insider is home to the world’s foremost database on global residence and citizenship by investment data. We regularly collect, compile, and analyze statistics from official sources to provide our readers with the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding trends in the investment migration market.

As we approach the half-year mark of 2019, nearly every major residence by investment (golden visa) program has released statistical reports covering application and approval data for last year.

First, some notes on the data-set:

Golden visa programs don’t follow a uniform standard when publishing their figures. Some report main applicants and dependents separately, others report them together as a single figure, and a few programs publish no statistics at all.

In the case of Malaysia M2H, the Thailand Elite Visa, and Quebec IIP, only the figure for total visas issued is available. In this case, we’ve assumed an average family size of 3, which is typical, to arrive at a main applicant figure. These figures are therefore not 100% accurate, but not far off either. Furthermore, as regards Quebec, 2018 data is as yet not available. We have therefore used the average of the two preceding years as an estimate.

Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and the US report by fiscal year rather than calendar year, which means that the figure listed as representing 2018 is more accurately interpreted as representing the last half of 2017 plus the first half of 2018.

For a further two countries – Malta and Panama, both of which offer residence by investment – no data is publicly available yet but neither is likely to have made the top 10 in any case, so it makes little difference for the purposes of this article.

Now:

The 10 Most Popular Residence by Investment Programs in The World Last Year (by main applicant approvals)

#10: The New Zealand Investor Visa (Categories 1 and 2)

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 310
  • Change on preceding year: -31%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the New Zealand Investor Visa Program Page.

#9: The UK Tier 1 Investor Visa

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 376
  • Change on preceding year: +6%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Program Page.

#8: The Thailand Elite Residence Visa

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,679
  • Change on preceding year: +64%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Thailand Elite Residence Visa Program Page.

#7: The South Korea Investor Visa

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 637
  • Change on preceding year: +27%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

#6: The Malaysia My Second Home Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,336
  • Change on preceding year: -46%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Malaysia M2H Program Page.

#5: The Greece Golden Visa Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,399
  • Change on preceding year: +46%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Greece Golden Visa Program Page.

#4: The Portugal Golden Visa Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,409
  • Change on preceding year: +4%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Portugal Golden Visa Program Page.

#3: The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,460 (estimate)
  • Change on preceding year: +1%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Quebec IIP Program Page.

#2: The Spain Golden Visa Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 1,188
  • Change on preceding year: +9%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the Spain Golden Visa Program Page.

#1: The United States EB-5 Program

  • Main applicant approvals in last full year: 2,637
  • Change on preceding year: +2%
  • Top applicant nationality: Chinese

For news, statistics, official links, and more about this program, visit the US EB-5 Program Page.

Honorable mention

Australia, Latvia, Malta RVP, Ireland, and Panama all have sizable application volumes but did not make the cut this year. Better luck in 2019!

Biggest Winners and Losers in 2018

Thailand saw admirable growth (+64%) during 2018, while Greece continues its seemingly unstoppable upward trend, boosting volumes by nearly half compared to last year.

Malaysia and New Zealand, meanwhile, saw approvals crater by 46% and 31% respectively. In the case of New Zealand, the precipitous drop is owed to its doubling the minimum investment requirement for its category 2 investor visa (from NZ$1.5 million to NZ$3 million). While the price-hike sent application numbers tumbling, it also helped raise overall revenue in the same period. See: New Zealand Golden Visa’s Price Mark-Up Gamble Pays Off: Applications Down, Revenue Up

Chinese take top spot across the board

Without exception, Chinese nationals made up the largest single applicant demographic among each of the top 10 golden visa programs, and an absolute majority in eight programs. To find a program where Chinese do not constitute the largest applicant constituency, you’ll have to move all the way down to number 12, the Latvia Golden Visa program, where Russians make up the bulk of applicants.

For more global statistics on residence and citizenship by investment programs, see the IMI Data Center.

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