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The Greek government is currently looking at ways to restructure and simplify the legal framework under which applications from third country nationals who wish to invest in Greece are made.

This initiative came out of the event “Enterprise Greece” which was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A report was presented on residence permits issued to third country nationals who have purchased property in Greece along with a comparative report of corresponding countries in the region, which highlighted that although the Greek programme is successful, improvements can be made.

Since May 2013 436 permits have been issued whilst a further 83 are still pending. 185 of the permits were issued to Russians, 119 to Chinese and 33 to Egyptians. Of these, from 1st May 2014 until 30th September 2015 – 210 permits were issued to property owners and 182 to family members.

67 million euros was generated from third country nationals purchasing property with the average house price of €317,000. For each contract signed less than two permits were issued, laying rest to fears that a huge influx of foreigners would look to enter the country in this way. At the same time it has been seen by these numbers that the environment should be made more attractive as statistics show that 98% of those seeking a residence permit wish to have access to a Schengen country, 90% for the quality of life, return on investment 80%, access to education 89%, the intention to relocate 75% and for vacation purposes 65%.

The evaluation that prevails is that the programme is successful. Beyond the benefits seen in the housing market, the longer that a person stays in the country, the greater the financial benefit to the Greek economy. This is why a plan is being put in place to make Greece ‘friendlier” with regards issuing permits for third-country nationals. The proposals are in place and are expected to be presented within the next two weeks.

The proposed changes concern access to citizenship relating to rights of residence to descendants of property owners who hold a permit. For instance if a child buys a property he can bring his parents into the country with a residence permit and if he marries he can bring his wife and her parents. The 5 year permit will become permanent and will be renewed every 5 years and if ownership of the property is transferred within the 5 years, the new owner can apply for a residence permit, if applicable.