Greece aims to pick up the pace on Golden Visa program

Greece is aiming to pick up the pace of residency permits issued in exchange for investments from non European Union nationals in a bid to boost the program, said Deputy Migration Minister Ioannis Balafas.

Under the residency plan, called the Golden visa program, Greece has been drawing interest from countries such as China and Russia, helping breathe some life into its crisis hit real estate market. Lawyers and others involved in the program, however, have criticized Greece for being slow in processing residency permits, putting off investors.

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Speaking at a forum on Monday, Balafas stressed the program's growth outlook and ability to draw foreign investment to the country.

He added that the Migration Ministry “is dedicated to taking quick decisions and facilitating the necessary procedures in order to assist investors and avoid administrative delays.“

Based on the figures since the program was launched in 2013, Greece has issued 1,684 residency permits with 701 going to Chinese nationals, 357 going to Russians and 84 taken by Egyptians. There has been a 50% jump in demand from Turkish nationals fro February to April , the data showed.