By Moustafa Daly
The government of the Netherlands is scrapping its investor visa starting January 1, 2024.
The residency by investment program, launched in 2013 with an investment threshold of €1.2 million, has fallen short in attracting potential investors to the economy.
“The experience of the past decade is that the arrival of wealthy foreigners in the Netherlands has made only a marginal contribution to the Dutch business climate and the financing of startups,” said Dilan Yeṣilgöz-Zegerius, the Dutch Secretary of State for Justice and Security, at a recent parliament hearing.
Indeed, “only 10 people had a residence permit on the basis of this scheme in the past 10 years,” reveals Jeroen Maas, lawyer and partner at Delissen Martens, to Uglobal. “This is the main reason the government is shutting it down.”
The European Union (EU)’s scrutiny over residency-and-citizenship-by-investment (RCBI) programs in the region and elsewhere could have also contributed to the decision.
“Consideration was given to whether the admission scheme could be modified while maintaining safeguards against abuse, and this proved not to be readily possible,” Minister Yeṣilgöz-Zegerius told parliament. “In addition, the critical discussions about this type of arrangement in the Netherlands and the EU also play a role. Incidentally, there are no signs of criminal abuse.”
Why is the Dutch investor visa unpopular?
The investment threshold of €1.2 million may have been detrimental to the success of the program. In other EU countries, like Greece, Cyprus, Spain, and, until recently, Portugal, investors could gain similar benefits for a fraction of that price tag – between €250,000 and €500,000.
Also, the option of obtaining residency simply by investing in property is available in these countries’ programs. In the Netherlands, it must be an active business investment – a road less traveled by many RCBI investors.
For even lower investment thresholds, investors could opt to invest in a Caribbean passport, which gives them visa-free access to the Schengen Area – making the Dutch program’s offerings even less attractive to investors mainly interested in easier global mobility.
This disparity in investor visa offerings was acknowledged by Minister Yeṣilgöz-Zegerius. “EU member states with more flexible criteria in terms of amounts to invest or guarantees against money laundering are more attractive than the Netherlands,” he said to the Dutch parliament.
With the end of this investor visa, there will no longer be a route for wealthy foreigners who are neither laborers nor refugees to reside in the country, said the minister.
It might continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. “It is not likely that a new residency-by-investment scheme will be introduced in the coming years,” expects Maas.
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