Greece’s revenues from the Golden Visa program (through property acquisitions, taxes, notary and lawyer payments etc) could have been more than twice as high had the authorities improved the processing of the residence permit-issuing project in terms of speed and efficiency. Today the tackling of bureaucratic and understaffing problems depends on the personal efforts of employees at the agency serving investors.
Lawyers who have daily transactions with the Decentralized Administrations (i.e. the administrative layer between the ministries and the regional authorities) on behalf of their client investors say that at times employees are willing to help to facilitate the procedure, but in other cases the mentality they have to contend with seems to be that of a time long gone.
Market professionals are calling for each Decentralized Administration to set up a special departments to exclusively serve Golden Visa investors. To date, these authorities serve not only investors but also asylum seekers, a situation that has allowed problems and delays to swell out of control.
At the agency in Piraeus, for instance, the earliest date currently available for an appointment regarding an investor’s residence permit is March 2021 – i.e. 14 months away. This means that most people interested opt to travel to other areas of the country to get the service they need earlier, per the ministerial decision issued last year allowing investors to apply for a permit at any Decentralized Administration in the country, not just their local one.
Property market professionals say that the Golden Visa program is not fulfilling its potential because of the bureaucratic issues and the long queue of investors. From the start of program until the end of 2019, the program brought the country 2 billion euros, not including payments to tax authorities, notaries, lawyers etc.