EuropeIntel & Data

Greek Golden Visa: Q1 2023 Application Volume Up 259% Y-o-Y, Backlog Doubled in 6 Months

The Greek Golden Visa has been on a tear over the last half year. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, it received more applications than in all of 2021 and nearly four times as many as in the first quarter of last year.

Two primary factors are lifting the program's popularity to all-time highs:

First, the Greek government's September 2022 announcement that minimum investment requirements for real estate would double in 36 key municipalities brought about a flurry of applications, a common observation for investment migration programs that provide advance notice of price hikes. Last month, the government also extended the transition period to the new regime, giving thousands more applicants a chance at qualifying under the old rules.

Second, the Greek program has seen significant attrition among its European golden visa peers over the last year. Since February 2022, the governments of both Ireland and the UK have closed (abruptly and unceremoniously) their respective investor visa programs, while that of Portugal - Greece's fiercest golden visa rival - looks moribund.

Greek golden visa application volumes hit an all-time monthly high of 1,218 (main applicant) applications in December 2022 and have remained elevated since, most recently logging 731 applications in March this year.

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While the country's decentralized authorities have amplified their processing capacity, chiefly by making use of digital solutions, they appear not to have been prepared for a monthly caseload four times greater than just 18 months ago.

As a consequence, the backlog has ballooned in recent months. Over the last half year, the backlog of initial applications from main applicants alone has swelled by 133%, from 2,077 cases at the end of September last year to 4,842 at the end of March this year. Taking dependents and renewal applications into account, the backlog now counts a total of 14,511 unprocessed files, a figure that has nearly doubled in just five months.

Some eight out of ten pending applications remain on the desks of officers at the Immigration Bureau in Attica, a region home to some 40% of the country's population as well as its capital, Athens. About 6% of pending applications pertain to Crete, while the remaining 13% of the backlog is dispersed across Thrace-Macedonia, Epirus, Peloponnese and the Aegean islands.

Of the 12,021 visa that remain valid, initial five-year residence permits account for 10,105 visas, while 1,916 are renewed permits. Overall, Chinese investors hold 58% of currently active visas, followed by Russians at 19%, Turks at 18%, Lebanese at 17%, and Egyptians at 15%.

If you like data-driven articles like this one, you'll love the IMI Data Center, the world's largest collection of investment migration statistics, with more than 350 graphs and charts on dozens of IM programs and markets.

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