Golden Visa Tickets Snapped Up By Chinese Expats

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Chinese expats are pouring into Portugal to take advantage of golden residence visas, says the government.

Eight out of every 10 expats taking up the offer are Chinese, according to official figures.

Although the Chinese take up is high, the foreign ministry expects to only grant 400 golden visas in 2013.

The figures show 318 visas have already been issued, with 248 going to Chinese expats. The next largest influx was just 15 expats from Russia with most of the rest coming from Brazil and Angola, a former Portuguese colony.

Other European countries attempting to lure wealthy foreign expats to invest include Spain, Cyprus and Greece.

Each is offering preferential visa terms.

Fast track visas

Expats need to sink at least 500,000 euros into the economy to win a fast-track residence visa, while Cyprus and Greece will consider amounts as low as 250,000 euros.

In Portugal, non-European Union expats need to invest a million euros or start a business that generates at least 10 jobs.

“The scheme is proving popular and we have no plans to limit the number of visas at the moment,” said a Portuguese government spokesman.

Fast-track visas also let expats bring their families to their new homes and offer citizenship.

Meanwhile, British expats in favourite overseas destinations are suffering from Sterling movements against stronger currencies.

Currency experts have looked at the buying power of the British state pension against several expat destination currencies and the results are worrying for pensioners.

Expats who moved to Canada have suffered the worst, with currency movements leading them to lose the equivalent of £431 per month spending power since 2007.

FX hedging

Other losers are pensioners in Australia, who have £204 a month less to spend, and the US, where they have £123 less. Against the euro, pensioners have lost around £120 per month.

The currency fluctuations are compounded in Australia and Canada by having their state pensions frozen at the level of the first payment for life. The nations are also the two most popular expat destinations for retirees.

State pensions are not frozen in the US or European Union, but pensioners have still lost money from their pockets due to currency movements.

“Many pensioners are looking to hedge against exchange rate movements by locking into a fixed exchange rate,” said a spokesman for HiFX, the company which worked out the figures.

“Our advice is not to fix for more than 12 months as markets are so volatile. It’s difficult to predict what might happen over a longer period.”

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