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Hungary has initiated “Golden Visa program” aimed at real estate investors

Hungary will introduce a residency permit for individuals who buy high-value properties in the European Union nation, six years after corruption allegations prompted authorities to close a similar golden visa program.

Under the “guest-investor program,” individuals investing a minimum of €250,000 ($271,000) in local property funds or €500,000 in Hungarian real estate will have the opportunity to apply for a 10-year, renewable residency permit in Hungary, as outlined in legislation filed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

Additionally, donations of at least €1 million to designated public trusts, established by the government to oversee universities, will also qualify for this permit.

Hungary discontinued a comparable program in 2017. This program granted residency and unrestricted travel within the EU to purchasers of €300,000 in government bonds. The program resulted in a significant influx of migrants from China and Russia. It was terminated following media reports alleging corruption and inadequate screening of applicants, which potentially enabled spies to enter the EU.

Golden visas are contentious in other parts of Europe. Some attribute housing crises to such residency programs. Portugal, for example, terminated a program this year due to soaring real estate prices, especially in Lisbon. Ireland ended its scheme on February 15th.

Hungary’s program is part of legislation that Orban claims is integral to his stringent stance on immigration. It represents a key issue for the nationalist prime minister, whose anti-immigrant stance has sustained his tenure for more than a decade.

This bill was introduced after opposition parties began criticizing the government earlier this year for relaxing regulations, permitting workers from non-EU countries to come to Hungary to address a labor shortage. It coincides with Orban’s efforts to bolster revenue after facing a record cash-flow-based budget shortfall this year.

The government estimates that the economy requires 500,000 new workers to meet growing demands. An upsurge in investments in the battery industry, set to position Hungary as one of the world’s leading producers, is particularly concerning in terms of staffing factory lines.

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