Over the past several years, many Filipinos have rediscovered Spain not only as a holiday destination but as a place where they can move to and begin life anew. Some Filipino parents are convinced Spain’s coveted Golden Visa will assure their children of better prospects for employment and a more stable future.
One of them is dermatologist, ABS-CBN Teleradyo anchor, and medical and public service consultant Dra. Luisa Ticzon Puyat. Dra. Luisa is already a holder of a Spanish residency card herself. Her daughter Miguela is now studying architecture in Barcelona where her tuition fee, the doctor tells ANCX, is much cheaper than tuition in the United States.
There are many reasons why Dra. Luisa pursued getting a Golden Visa. “My daughter will get a European education, will obtain a Spanish citizenship in two years, obtain a global passport and will be able to study, work and live in any of the 27 European Union (EU) countries,” she says. “So what a privilege that she could get architectural training from any of these countries.” Dra. Luisa adds that Miguela will also be able to enjoy Spain’s public free healthcare which, according to the World Health Organization, is ranked as one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.
In working for her Golden Visa, Dra. Luisa sought the assistance of a Spain-based Filipino group called Vive España. The agency specializes in helping Pinoys make their dreams of living in Spain a reality. They understand their kababayan’s unique needs and preferences. They provide legal and real estate services, yes, but they also offer valuable insights on what it’s like to live in Spain.
From finding schools to looking for work opportunities, the Vive España team has experienced them all. Their firsthand experience as Pinoys living in Spain and their expertise in their fields of specialization made Dra. Luisa choose the group to see her family through as she applied for the Spanish Golden Visa Investment program. In fact, she was so impressed with Vive España, she decided to join them as the Marketing Director in the Philippines. The real estate investment company is now run by Barcelona Legal Director Atty. Edmund Reyes, Real Estate Director Carlos Pedrosa, and Madrid Legal Director Atty. Luis Romero-Salas.
If you don’t know it already, a Golden Visa is an investment opportunity open to non-EU nationals which offers the visa holder and his or her immediate family residency and citizenship in Spain. This privilege is offered via Law 14/2013 or the Entrepreneurial Support Act which was enacted to boost Spain’s economic growth through Investor Residency. The Golden Visa allows an applicant to acquire residency in Spain sans the long list of requirements and bureaucratic delays. As a matter of fact, the Residence Permit is issued after only 20 days from application.
From the time the permit is issued, the new Spanish resident has the privilege to study, work, and live in Spain, and travel to 27 EU countries with no visa requirement. There is no requirement for a minimum stay to keep the permit valid; initial renewal of the permit is after two years, and then every 5 years thereafter.
A Spanish citizen enjoys the benefits of studying, living, and working not only in Spain but also in any of the 27 EU countries including Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Additionally, a Spanish citizen will have access to Spain’s public free healthcare.
One can apply for a Spanish citizenship after living in Spain for an accumulated 183 days a year for two years. This fast track citizenship is offered only to former colonies of Spain, which includes the Philippines. For other nationalities, says Vive España, it takes 10 years. “Most of my family members have availed of this privilege and have enjoyed a big advantage from having a European citizenship,” says Atty. Edmund. “The jobs available in Europe can earn good salaries for Filipinos; however, if they are not EU citizens they will not be prioritized even if they are better qualified. Now that some of my children are working, they appreciate their EU passport and the opportunities that have opened up for them.”
According to Vive España, the quickest and most convenient way to obtain a Spanish citizenship would be through a Golden Visa, and one of the ways to become eligible for the Golden Visa is by investing in real estate in Spain. As Atty. Edmund shares, one would need at least 500,000 euros (roughly 29 million pesos) in the bank to do this. This can be an investment for a single unit of real estate or the overall worth of several real estate assets.
Another means to acquire a Golden Visa is by purchasing shares in a company in Spain or by making a deposit in a bank for a minimum of €1,000,000, investing at least €2,000,000 in the Spanish Treasury Bond, or building a new business that would generate work opportunities, socio-economic impact, or innovations in science and technology.
To qualify for an application for a Golden Visa, one has to provide proof that he or she has made any of the above-mentioned investment options. The applicant also has to be of legal age (over 18 years old), with no criminal records, have private health insurance in Spain, and has never been denied a Schengen Visa. (Check this link for list of required documents.)
Once a Golden Visa is secured, the visa holder can already bring his immediate family to Spain. A spouse can be included as a dependent, same with children below 18 years of age. Parents of the Golden Visa holder as well as children above 18 may also qualify as dependents, but only if they are still economically dependent to the applicant. Children over the age of 23 will usually have to get their own 500,000-euro investment to avail of the Golden Visa.
For the kids
While this investment doesn’t come cheap, Vive España insists the benefits eventually outweigh your expenses. A Spanish resident and citizen could enjoy free grade school and high school education in public schools. Meanwhile, sending your children to a public university will only cost an average of about 1200 euros (about 69,000 pesos) per year.
Atty. Edmund personally attests to the benefits of studying in Spain having had family members go through the citizenship process even before their high school graduation. They obtained their Spanish citizenship by the time they graduated from high school and college and shortly were able to find a job in Europe.
“Their job enables them to actually stand on their own from day one,” says Atty. Edmund. “They could live in a very decent apartment, feed themselves, clothe themselves, and have money left for recreational purposes. If they had chosen to stay in the Philippines, I don't believe that an entry-level job out of college will enable them to have that kind of financial freedom right away.”
Top notch healthcare
Another factor why Dra. Luisa and company believe more Filipinos should consider applying for a Golden Visa is the advantages of getting healthcare in Spain. Medical expenses becomes a major concern as we reach old age.
“With the limited insurance coverage offered in the Philippines, a lot of affluent families have seen their financial situation suffer when they've had to pay for the medical bills of their loved ones,” Atty. Edmund says. “And this is something that you can avoid once you obtain a Spanish citizenship and become a Social Security contributor.” Social security contributors in Spain includes them in the Spanish National Healthcare System which guarantees universal coverage and public free healthcare access.
The Vive España team supplied us proof of just how good the health care is in Spain. The Year 2021 edition of CEOWorld Magazine’s Health Care index put Spain on the eighth spot among countries with the best healthcare system.
Over 90 hospitals in Spain are included in Newsweek’s 2022 roster of “The World’s Best Hospitals.” And data from the Spanish National Transplant Organization suggests that Spain continues to be a world leader in organ donation and transplantation for 28 straight years—which means if an organ is needed, there is good supply to bank on.
Cancer treatment is also “universal,” “equal,” and “free of charge” through the Spanish National Health System (SNS). “A Spanish citizen only needs to pay 10 percent of total cost of his maintenance medicines,” offers Dra. Luisa.
“Being a citizen of a first-world country like Spain enables you to have more peace of mind because you are backed up by a very strong social security system which includes a very good health care system,” says Atty.Reyes.
How to invest
Over the past year, Vive España has helped Filipino families secure properties in Spain. Its Real Estate Director Carlos Pedrosa assures that the process of buying properties in the European country is relatively simple, and Vive España has both a real estate team and a legal team to guide investors every step of the way.
“The Spanish real estate market is a mature market,” Pedrosa offers. “So you're looking at a more stable yield for investments. The tourist industry here is very diverse.” Data from worldpopulationreview.com shows that Spain is the second most visited country in the world. It had 83.7 million visitor arrivals in 2019 alone. The country is expecting to reach a kind of peak once again in tourism as the Covid situation around the world gets better.
“The money you invested will surely come back to you, not only in form of a citizenship, which is actually priceless,” says Atty. Edmund. “You also have a property that steadily appreciates in value—especially the ones here Madrid and Barcelona—which you can choose to sell later on.”
Meanwhile, for those who are not keen on staying put and establishing roots in Spain and would just like to travel the world, a Spanish passport is an indispensable friend: it currently ranks as the third most powerful passport globally.