Ever since the two families from Kerala came under the radar who arrived in Dubai on an Emirates flight amid temporary suspension of flights due to COVID 19, from India, the golden visa has been the talk of the town. 'Privilege visas' are very precious as they allow people to travel even during bans. Here is a low down on what they are and how they work.
What Are Privilege Visas?
The system here is that these visas are a type of immigrant investor program which lets the individual obtain citizenship or residence of a country if they make a qualifying investment.
The program can either be a "golden passport" or "cash-for-passport" which are via investments, residence by investment called ‘golden visa’, or they can be a hybrid where you get immediate residence followed by accelerated citizenship.
What Are These Investments?
Investment can be of many types. It could be some contribution to government funds, purchase of qualifying real estate in the specific government-sanctioned projects, or investment in a qualifying business, or even some sort of creation of a set number of jobs.
Former secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Amrendra Khatua, who was also the head of the visa and passport division, explained to a leading daily: “With globalisation, many countries use the stability of their economy and society to attract investors - the rich and powerful and elite - through this special category of visas. This facilitates easy entry and exit and longer stay as well as facilities equivalent to those given to a citizen of that country.”
Different Visa Categories
A visa is permission that you get on the passport for entry into a country. Visas are generally divided into 2 categories - General and Functional. General is for tourism while Functional are for work, student, spousal, business, cultural programs, transit, and the likes.
The third category is for asylum seekers, refugees involving people who stay in a country who do not have a visa otherwise. They have it until their stay is regularised by the recipient country.
A subset in the functional category is when individuals obtain ‘privilege visas’ which is as explained, based on their investments.
D-visa in EU
In the European Union countries, ‘Type D Schengen visa’ is a long-stay visa.
According to the Schengen visa information website: “The national visa is the type D long-stay Schengen visa. It is mandatory for any foreigner wishing to study, work or live in a Schengen country for longer than 90 days (up to 1 year). It allows its holder to travel and stay in the Schengen area outside of the originally chosen Schengen country for periods of 90 days maximum over 180 days and during the entire validity period of their visa.”
When Can You Apply For it:
- Professional activities
- For studying, or an internship
- Tourism or private visits
- Family reasons
“The national visa of type D visa is issued by the consular authorities of the intended Schengen country in accordance with national legislation. Therefore, it is necessary to contact the services of the country to know the different conditions and formalities that need to be met. Under certain conditions, it can be granted as either a single or a multiple-entry long-stay visa,” said the website.
D-Visa in the US
As for ‘D-visas’, the category is taken differently, varying from country to country. In some regions, ‘D’ is for long-stay visas. In the US, it is for crew members of airlines and sea vessels who cannot get a visa for each and every trip.
According to the US State Department website: “Crewmember (D) visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons working on board commercial sea vessels or international airlines in the United States, providing services required for normal operation and intending to depart the United States on the same vessel or any other vessel within 29 days. If you travel to the United States to join the vessel you will work on, in addition to a crewmember (D) visa, you also need a transit (C-1) visa or a combination C-1/D visa.”
Countries That Offer Citizenship By Investment
- St Kitts and Nevis
Countries That Offer Residence By Investment
- United Kingdom
- United States
Controversies Around Golden Visas
There have been many controversies surrounding the issue of these visas across many countries. These include the questionable economic benefits and security concerns.
Former diplomat Amrendra Khatua told India Today: “Small and corrupt countries use the lure of special visas to protect money launderers and white-collar criminals in their country."
There have been some money laundering scandals as well in the banks of Latvia and Malta which have drawn attention to the citizenship granted. This particularly came into the picture when there was a boom in Russian funds entering EU countries.
There have been updates and revisions on the Golden Visa Programmes and would be worth checking the latest information in the visa sites for each country.
What is your take on the golden visa? Stay tuned to HerZindagi for more information on travel trends.
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