France Investor Visa Program Review
Many nations provide investor visa programs that are competitively priced in order to attract interest from foreign business people. Other countries offer citizenship by investment programs that are more expensive but offer fast delivery of full citizenship and a passport with a minimum of residential commitment. The French Investor Visa program is the costliest program on the market, and requires the greatest commitment from the investor, but if you are extremely wealthy and have plenty of time on your hands, it could be exactly what you are looking for. Passport Reviewer checked it out.
More and more countries around the world are offering investor visa programs, which gives wealthy foreign business people the opportunity to invest in a country in return for that nation’s residency, and after several years, if everybody’s happy with each other, the investor can apply for full citizenship of that country. There are several investor visa programs in use in the European Union, including Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Hungary.
Citizenship by investment (CBI) differs from an investor visa program in that the foreign business person can bypasses most if not all of the normal period of residency, and instead go straight to receiving citizenship and a passport in return for their financial investment. Austria and Malta both offer CBI programs, but the practice is more commonplace in the Caribbean, where countries like St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda offer excellent programs that are actually cheaper than most EU investor visa programs.
Whatever the program may be, the common denominator is that most countries try to entice an investor by offering them a competitive price for their investment, or fast delivery of their permit or even citizenship with no major residential requirements.
However, if a foreign investor has set their heart on becoming a French resident and eventually a French citizen, they will need both deep pockets and plenty of patience; the minimum investment required for the French investor visa program is €10 million, while the minimum time needed to be a resident of France is 10 years.
As they say in France, “Ooh La La”!
France in a Nutshell:
France, officially the French Republic, is a country located primarily in Western Europe but includes several overseas regions and territories (French Guiana plus islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans). Mainland France is the largest nation in Western/Central Europe and borders eight countries; Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland. The French coastline encompasses the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean the English Channel and the North Sea.
Historically France is one of the most influential of all European nations, alongside Greece, Italy (Rome), Spain, Great Britain and Germany, countries that have indelibly shaped the world we live in today. Modern France remains proud of its history and is protective of its culture and language in a way few nations are.
Geographically France has a rich diversity including authentic medieval cities, picturesque alpine villages and some of the most fabulous beaches that can be found in the Mediterranean. The French capital Paris, known as “The City of Love” is famed as the home of the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, and its iconic status is matched only by New York and London.
French cuisine is regarded as the finest in the world, and French vineyards are responsible for many of the most famous wines in the world including Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and of course Champagne.
France currently ranks second only to Germany in terms of influence and power within the European Union. The French economy is currently the sixth largest in the world, and the third largest in Europe behind Germany and Great Britain, although the UK’s economic stability looks set to take a major hit when it finally leaves the EU.
The fabulous La Défense (pictured above) is the largest purely business district in Europe and situated in the Metropolitan Area of Paris, and is geared toward powering France to even greater economic heights in the 21st century.
Key to the French economy are their chemical and tourism industries, of which they are world leaders in both. The services industry accounts for 78% of the French economy, followed by heavy industry (machinery, chemicals, automobiles, aircraft, electronics and textiles) and agriculture. France’s main business partners are Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK.
France is the most visited country in the world with more than 85 million foreign visitors annually, and is the third highest earning country from tourism. France has 37 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List which includes multiple cities, towns rated of “high cultural interest” as well as beaches, villages and ski resorts.
As well as being a member of the European Union and the Eurozone, France is also a member of Group of Seven, NATO, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Official Language: French
- Capital City: Paris
- Largest City: Paris (Pop: 2.3 million)
- Surface Area: 643,801 km
- Religion: 66% Christian
- Population: 67 million
- Government: Unitary semi presidential republic
- Legal system: Napoleonic code/written civil law
- Currency: Euro
- GDP per capita: $41,181
- Climate: warm/hot summers, cool/cold winters
France Investor Visa Program
In 2013, French president Francois Hollande announced the country’s first ever investor visa program, designed to attract wealthy foreign (non-Schengen Area)businesspeople who are interested in using France as a platform to invest in and establish new multimillion-euro businesses, and with a view to maintain all such businesses for at least 10 years.
Delivery of the permit is fast – just two months on completion of application and establishment of investment. The program requires a minimum commitment from an applicant of ten years both of investment and of residency. After three years of continued residency, an investor can apply for full French citizenship and passport.
To be eligible for a 10-year French economic residency permit, the investor must fulfill the following criteria:
- To be able to make a long-term, non-speculative investment of at least €10 million into a new or established business within France
- The investment can either be personal or via an established company of which the applicant owns at least 30%
- The applicant must provide authorized proof of the legitimacy of all funds using the investment
- The applicant must provide authorized proof as to their good character
- The applicant must provide authorized proof as to their sound health
- The applicant must provide authorized proof that they are free of any criminal convictions
Benefits of France Investor Visa Program
Here are the main benefits of the French investor visa program:
- There is no requirement regarding prior residency in France
- Applicants are not required to speak French
- Applicants do not need prior business experience
- The maximum processing time of an application is just 2 months prior to the issuing of a 10-year residence permit
- The €10 million investment can be made by an individual applicant or with partners
- An application is valid for the inclusion of the investor’s spouse and family members at no extra cost
- Successful applicants have ten years of renewable residency in France, the world’s sixth largest economy
- Successful applicants have full access to French amenities including healthcare and education
- Successful applicants will have full and unrestricted access to the 27 countries that make up the Schengen Area
- After three years of residency the investor can apply for full French citizenship
- France is a key EU member state
- An EU citizen is free to live and work without restriction and with equal rights in any other European Union country
- The French passport is the joint-third most powerful in the world, with visa-free access to 175 countries worldwide, including the Americas in their entirety (North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean) all of Western and Central Europe and much of Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, areas of Asia, plus most of Southeast Asia and all of Australasia
Pros and Cons of Living in France
Without doubt, France remains one of the greatest countries in the world in terms of standard of living, education and healthcare. A foreign investor who chooses France as their base to live, build a business and raise a family is choosing a country with the sixth strongest economy in the world, that is geared toward business and free enterprise like few others, yet remains a beacon for liberty and freedom, and a symbol of a functioning multicultural society.
An investor can choose to live in a bustling city like Paris, Marseille or Lyon, on one of the many beautiful coasts where they can enjoy fabulous Mediterranean summers, or venture inland for the true French experience.
There are no real downsides for a foreign investor who chooses to live, run a business and raise a family in France.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B+
The only reason the French investor visa program doesn’t get a straight A is because of its high price (minimum €10 million) and its required length of investment and residency (minimum 10 years).
Clearly when French president Francois Holland introduced the program in 2013, the thinking behind it was that unlike some programs that almost operate on a “get-rich-quick” mentality of selling their residency or citizenship for a good price but with a minimum of genuine commitment from the investor, the French program is actually attempting to establish a legitimate and long-lasting bond between the investor and France, which should be commended.
That said, the modern day businessperson has their own specific reasons for attaining an EU passport, for example, and many require freedom and fluidity and little or no residency requirement from their chosen program.
The French investor visa program should be viewed similarly to the programs of the US, Australia, Spain and Portugal, in that the businessperson choosing such a program is in it for the long haul, looking to make that country their permanent base, and in that respect the French investor visa option is a valid addition to that class of program.