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Guest investor visa and guest investor residency in Hungary

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Guest investor visa and guest investor residency in Hungary

The new Hungarian immigration law that came into force on 1 January 2024 includes an option that lets investors and their family members obtain Hungarian residency for 10 years. While the program is simply referred to as “golden visa”, there is a difference between guest investor visa and guest investor residency.

Visa and residency

In casual speech, the words “visa” and “residence permit” are often used interchangeably. After all, they are both documents that let you enter a country and stay there for a certain time.

However, a visa is normally a document that allows entry to a specific country for a specific purpose. It often takes a form of a stamp in the traveler’s passport, and it specifies the number of times the holder may cross the border.

A residence permit is also a document that allows entry to a specific country for a specific purpose. It is normally a separate document which is valid together with the holder’s passport. At the same time, it does not specify the number of times the holder may cross the border. Moreover, it can grant the holder additional rights, such as visiting allied countries. For example, since Hungary is a member of the EU and the Schengen zone, a Hungarian residence permit lets you stay in any other member state for 90 dates without any additional documents.

Why does this matter to Hungarian guest investors?

While the Hungarian guest investor program is often referred to as a “golden visa” program, just like many other investment residency options around the world, the new immigration law regulating it does not use this phrase. Instead, the law calls it a guest investor program, in which investors may obtain residency for 10 years for themselves and their closest family members (meaning spouse and underage children).

This is achieved in two stages:

  • First they can apply for a guest investor visa
  • Then they can apply for guest investor residency

Stage 1: guest investor visa

If you are interested in Hungarian investment residency, you will have 3 options to choose from:

  • EUR 250,000 investment in a real estate fund
  • EUR 500,000 investment in residential real estate
  • EUR 1,000,000 donation to a designated educational or cultural institution

Once you have decided that you want to proceed with one of these options in order to secure Hungarian residency for yourself, and possibly for your spouse and underage children, you can apply for the guest investor visa from your home country. During the application, you will have to make a pledge that you intend to realize one of the above investments within 3 months upon first entering Hungary, and you must prove that you have the funds to do so.

Additional requirement for the visa application include:

  • Proof of valid healthcare insurance in Hungary
  • Thorough background check (performed by the Hungarian authorities to prove that you have not been expelled from and are not a threat to the European community)

After submission, you should receive your guest investor visa within 3 weeks. (However, please note that the Immigration Office is often overworked, and some delays are to be expected.)

The guest investor visa will let you enter Hungary in order to realize the investment you have pledged, after which you will be able to apply for the guest investor residence permit. The will be valid until you receive your residence permit. (Its maximum validity is 2 years, but that is included in the law because there needs to be a time limit. You will receive your residence permit much much sooner.)

The guest investor visa also allows multiple entries to Hungary, which is a significant improvement compared to regular visas that allow only one entry. This means that you can take advantage of Hungarian residency even before obtaining the residence permit.

Stage 2: guest investor residence permit

Upon first entering Hungary with your guest investor visa, you will have 3 months, more precisely, 93 days to submit your residency application in Hungary. By that deadline, you mush have made the investment you pledged when you applied for the visa, and proof of the investment must be attached to the application.

As stated above, your guest investor visa remain valid while your application is considered, so you can enter Hungary as many times as you want. However, you will be able to take full advantage of your investment only when you receive your residence permit, which will allow you to stay, do business, and enter employment in Hungary, and travel without a visa anywhere in Europe.

The guest investor residence permit will be valid for 10 years, regardless the validity of your passport. This is a major perk, considering that other residence permits are usually valid only until 3 months before the expiry of your passport.

These benefits are available not only to investors, but also their immediate family members, meaning their spouse and underage children. Other dependent relatives, such as adult children or elderly parents are not mentioned in the law, but there are rumors that a simplified procedure will be available to them to, granting residency for 3 years.

When the 10 years are up, the guest investor residence permit may be renewed for an additional 10 years. For this purpose, you will need to demonstrate that you maintain the initial investment, our you hold investment of equal value in Hungary. For example, if you bought residential real estate but later you sold it, you need to present ownership document of another piece of residential real estate of equal or higher value for your residency renewal procedure. Naturally, investors who chose the donation option do not have to make another donation.

Guest investor visa and residency in Hungary

Application for the program is expected to start on 1 July 2024. The new immigration law has given the Hungarian government the power to define the details of the program, but this has not yet happened. As a result, some elements of the program are not yet clear, such as the list of available investment fund providers, or the starting date when the investment options become available (which should be sooner than the start date of the applications).

We will keep an eye out for more details, and report about them as soon as possible. Helpers is one of the top providers of business and immigration services in Hungary, with 20 years of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients. We would be happy to assist you too.

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