European programs that offer citizenship “in exchange” for investment – namely in real estate – are alive and well in Europe, despite calls for an end to the issuing of new golden visas.

This is a controversial topic in Portugal, with the Government wanting to put an end to the Golden Visa program after more than a decade in force.

Despite all the controversy, an article published by Bloomberg reports that there continues to be interest in this investment attraction program. In Greece and Portugal, the number of visas granted in recent months has been increasing – “Portuguese Golden Visas are more popular than ever”, reads the article. In Italy and Spain, demand has reached record levels.

Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission have recommended the countries of the European Union (EU) to close this type of programme, something that has already happened in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put golden visas under additional scrutiny for being, as Belgian MP Saskia Bricmont put it, a potential way for “oligarchs, criminals and corrupt politicians” to be able to buy “their entry into Europe and launder their money, image and identities”.

The truth is that, despite everything, there is little evidence that golden visas are harder to obtain. “We haven't seen significant changes in the difficulty of obtaining a visa,” said Patricia Casaburi, general director of immigration consultancy Global Citizen Solutions, quoted by Bloomberg, noting that there continues to be a lot of interest in the program.