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Italy has suspended the Investor Visa program for Russian and Belarusian citizens, the country's Business Ministry announced on its website.
The Italian magazine Altreconomia reported on Aug. 8 that the Italian government made the decision in mid-July, more than a year after the European Commission recommended this measure after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Altreconomia said that the Italian authorities issued at least 32 Russian citizens with two-year "investor" visas out of 36 applications, based on data provided by the business ministry.
This means that the "golden visas" issued to Russian citizens outnumbered those awarded to the U.S. (12) and the U.K. (12) nationals, the outlet commented.
The data obtained by Altreconomia did not reveal the number of "investor visas" issued for Belarusians and Russians in 2023.
The European Commission called on the EU members in March 2022 to suspend their investor visa programs for Russian and Belarusian nationals.
"Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes," the European Commission said.
Italy launched its Golden Visa program in 2017 to bolster the country's economic growth. The state offers a two-year visa for applicants and their families, as well as a special tax regime, according to ShengenVisaInfo.
After ten years, it becomes possible for the Golden Visa holders to apply for citizenship.
Foreigners can access the scheme if they invest at least 500,000 euros ($540,000) in an Italian joint-stock company, donate 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to an organization involved in a specific field such as culture or landscape heritage, or invest in government securities in the amount of 2 million euros ($2.17 million).