Many bought qualifying homes in 2019 and were on the verge of finalizing their residence permits before the outbreak. Now, they’re out EUR250,000 and unable to enter Greece.
At least 120 Chinese families that invested in property in Greece as part of their golden visa application procedure are still waiting for their files to be approved. They cannot address pending documentation nor enroll their children in Greek schools as planned, explains Michael Xia, president of the Sino-Hellenic Investors’ Confederation to GTP.
Greece currently allows only the citizens of all EU/EEA countries to enter – albeit with negative PCR-test requirements for travelers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, and Sweden – as well as the nationals of the below 15 non-European countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
Chinese nationals would be permitted to travel to Greece, but only if the Chinese government itself permitted EU nationals to travel to China, which – as of today – it still doesn’t.
The Confederation has sent letters addressing the issue to the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Migration Policy, as well as to Greek consulates in China and the Chinese embassy in Athens.
But Chinese investors are far from the only golden visa applicant group affected by the border closures.
“I have more than 20 applicants – mostly from Turkey – currently in the process of finalizing their golden visas, many of whom have already bought their properties, who are unable to enter Greece,” says Panos Rozakis, CEO of Prime Synergy Greek Residency.
“They ask me why they can’t simply provide a negative PCR-test, like everyone else, and then drive across the border to Greece. I understand their frustration,” continues Rozakis, adding that demand from Turkey has increased markedly in the last several months, an observation he attributes to the authoritarian turn Turkish politics have taken over the last year.
Processing times for Greek golden visas prior to the pandemic, explains Rozakis, averaged 5-6 months – although some regional immigration offices often had much quicker turnaround times. Although the bureaus processing applications remain fully operational, most employees are still working from home.
“We all know what ‘working from home’ means to Greek bureaucrats,” comments Rozakis sardonically, pointing out that processing is now taking considerably longer than before the pandemic.
But he also indicates there’s reason for optimism; both his own firm and other stakeholders in the Greek golden visa market have been requesting a resolution to the impasse from the Greek government.
“We expect feedback from the Ministry of Interior later this week,” he says.
Appeals from Rozakis and the Confederation are unlikely to fall on deaf ears; the incumbent administration, in office for little more than a year, has given priority to the program and displayed remarkable alacrity in cutting red tape for the scheme, which they see as having an important role to play in bolstering the Greek economy.