The huge backlog of applications for residence permits for non-European Union citizens investing at least 250,000 euros in Greek properties has forced the state to decentralize the Decentralized Authorities’ competences.
Therefore law firms and estate agents are contacting Decentralized Authorities – the regional state agencies that are one level above the Regional Authorities – across Greece in an attempt to find the earliest available dates to submit Golden Visa applications and have interviews conducted with their clients.
“A few weeks ago we had to travel with the buyer of a Vouliagmeni property to Patra [more than 200 km away], where we finally managed to submit the documents and receive the residence permit,” Alexandros Risvas, head of the Risvas & Associates law firm which specializes in residence permits, told Kathimerini.
The reason for that phenomenon is the applications overload over the last 18 months at the three central authorities in Attica (in Athens, Piraeus and Pallini), as illustrated by a recent instance where a non-EU investor was told to wait until 2021 for the next available appointment for a Golden Visa.
To resolve the problem, the Migration Policy Ministry issued a decision in early April allowing for applications to be tabled with any Decentralized Authority in Greece – not just in the area where the property is located.
“The recent ministerial decision has indeed offered us some breathing space, as some investors had already started turning to other EU countries to invest their funds and obtain a residence permit. However, even that solution can only be temporary, as it is obvious that this system will also be overloaded soon,” Risvas says. He notes that the first departures of lawyers and agents to Corinth – the nearest alternative to Attica – were observed as soon as the decision was issued, while Golden Visa applications quickly expanded also to Patra, Hania, Lamia, Larissa and even Thessaloniki. “An integrated review of the supply of services to investors is required, focusing on resolving simple, practical problems that have emerged since the start of the Golden Visa program,” adds Risvas.