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Europe’s golden visas lure rich Chinese

A growing number of wealthy foreigners are buying their way into Europe as hard-pressed countries trade their passports for cash. Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus, which have suffered the most from the region’s prolonged recession, are offering visas to foreigners who buy real estate. The goal is to lure investment and strengthen battered European economies.

Chinese nationals are at the front of the line for these golden tickets to Europe, immigration experts say. Interest from Russia, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa is also stirring. Foreign investors who purchase real estate are granted residency rights, and in some cases full European Union citizenship. The minimum outlay ranges from €250,000 (about $340,000) to €500,000.

Portugal has been offering these deals for over two years. Foreigners receive a residency permit when they invest €500,000 in property. After five years, they can apply for permanent residency, and EU citizenship one year later. Portugal is also trading visas to those who inject capital or create jobs in the country — similar to the U.S. immigrant investor program, which requires a minimum spend of $500,000. Official figures show more than 330 visas have been issued in the first 12 months of the program, raising €225 million.

Francisco Barata Salgueiro, partner at Portuguese law firm Neville de Rougemont & Associates, has seen a steady rise in inquiries this year and currently advises around 150 mostly Chinese investors on the golden visa program. The increase partly reflects a watering down of the law. In January 2013, the minimum stay requirements were scaled back significantly, to just 35 days over 5 years. Salgueiro said most investors are lured by the prospect of being able to travel freely throughout most of Europe. "They also mention the flexibility of sending their children to study in Europe. Quite a few will consider retiring here," he said.

source: CNN

wealthy – vagyonos, gazdag
hard-pressed – nehéz helyzetben lévő
prolonged – elhúzódó, hosszas
real estate – ingatlan
to lure – csalogatni
investment – befektetés
golden ticket – “nyertes szelvény”
immigration – bevándorlás
residency rights – tartózkodási engedéllyel járó jogok
outlay – költség, kiadás
permanent residency – állandó tartózkodási engedély
citizenship – állampolgárság
to inject capital – tőkét juttatni
a steady rise – folyamatos emelkedés
inquiry – érdeklődés, tudakozódás
to water something down – felhígítani, enyhíteni
to scale back – csökkenteni

Match the synonyms.

1. rise

a) to decrease

2. citizenship

b) rich

3. to scale back

c) nationality

4. outlay

d) increase

5. wealthy

e) expense

answers: 1-d 2-c 3-a 4-e 5-b

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