Contrary to the perception that Europe is closed to most legal immigration, a number of European states are offering residency and citizenship to non-EU investor-class migrants.

Although not part of the Schengen visa-free zone,  permanent residency in Cyprus provides easy access to the EU. Expats, who have a secured annual income that is high enough to allow for a decent standard of living on Cyprus, can get permanent residence by transferring about €300,000 to a Cyprus Bank on a fixed deposit for three years.  There is also an option of EUR150,000, Category F - regulation 5, but it is a slow track process and can take up to 12 months. Citizenship is available after seven years of residence with a €2 million deposit in the Cyprus National Investment Company plus a further €500 000 donation to a government fund, or alternatively with a €5 million investment in real estate or business.

Malta has a Global Residence Program which allows expats the opportunity to buy or rent property in Malta and direct their foreign income to Malta in exchange for residence permit. The minimum investment in property is between €220,000 and €275,000 depending on the region and the minimum tax payable is €15,000 per family, while renters must pay at least €800 monthly. Another option is the Individual Investor Program which allows for citizenship within a year or so when they buy property for at least €350,000 and keep it for five years or lease property for €16,000 per yea - an additional investment of €150,000 in stocks and bonds is required, plus a contribution €650,000 to the economy and lesser amounts on behalf of their family members – in other words, a total commitment of about €1.15 million to obtain a Maltese passport.

Portugal offers expats the opportunity to become residents through the Golden Residence Permit and it is available to non-EU investors. Applicants can buy real estate of at least €500,000 or alternatively, make a capital investment of at least €1 million in a Portuguese company or establish a Portuguese company that employs more than ten people. Successful applicants get visa-free access to the Schengen Area, receive permanent residence after five years and Portuguese citizenship one year later.
Austria offers residency and citizenship to persons who have exceptional talent or will make special contributions to Austria, or to those who can make a once-off donation of €2 to €3 million to an approved arts, education or sports project. Another option is to make a recoverable minimum investment of €7,5 million in economy of Austria, excluding investments in government bonds and real estate. An easier, but lengthier option to obtain permanent residence is for an applicant to provide evidence of sufficient liquid funds of at least €100,000 (and €50,000 for each additional family member), accommodation in Austria and health insurance, and additionally pay fees of about €100,000 to €150,000(and €15,000 per dependent), plus annual renewal fees.
Belgium allows non-EU entrepreneurs with capital to incorporate a legal entity and in turn, to receive residency. The company must have a minimum share capital of €18,600; the applicant can be a shareholder and an executive of this company and must receive a salary of at least €35,000 per year. Much of the cost for a residence permit in Belgium goes to legal and processing fees, the rental of an apartment and office, and taxes. The average cost for residency is between€350,000 and €500,000, payable in stages.
Switzerland allows non-EU expats to apply for Swiss residency by paying an annual lump sum in taxes of at least CHF150,000, depending on the canton in which they apply. In addition, they have to invest at least CHF500,000 to create in a small to medium company of the canton where they wish to live and add economic value for the area by creating jobs. Temporary residency must be renewed yearly.
The United Kingdom offers Tier 1 investor class visas to non-EU nationals who invest £2 million
of funds under their own control in the UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK registered companies for five years, or have net personal assets of £2 million plus further funds of at least £1 million, which may include money borrowed from an approved financial institution. In return the investor receives a temporary residence visa, which lasts for three years initially and can be extended and visa holders can eventually qualify for permanent residence and citizenship after five years of residence.
Greece is offering non-EU investors permanent residency similar to the Golden Visa of Spain and Portugal, by way of an investment of €250,000 in a Greek property for five years or if they own a ten-year time-sharing contract. Residence permits may be renewed for a further five years upon expiry if the resident maintains the status quo, but it does not allow employment. Non-EU citizens have the right to obtain citizenship if they reside in Greece for seven consecutive years, providing they stay in Greece for a minimum of 180 days each year.

Spain offers a Golden visa to expats who wish to apply for residence in Spain. The simplest way is to invest €500,000 in a property and in return, obtain a temporary residence which has to be renewed each year. After five years the applicant receives permanent residency and citizenship after another five further years.
Latvia offers investors a low cost option to get permanent residence within the EU by making a real estate investment worth approximately U$350,000 plus fees. Another option is to start a business worth at least U$50,000 and pay approximately U$40,000 taxes per year and a thirdly option is make a loan to the Bank of Latvia or another Latvian credit institution of approximately U$400,000.
Bulgaria offers investors permanent residence in return for an investment of about U$700,000 in a government bonds for a period of five years. After five years of residency the investor can apply for citizenship. It is also possible for an investor to make a payment (not an investment) of a lesser amount of U$245,000 towards securing a U$700,000 loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank, which is then used to obtain residency, but the U$245,000 is not returned to the investor. There is also a fast-track option whereby the investor’s U$700,000 goes in to in a risky Priority Investment Project and he/she will receive citizenship after about three years.