The European Commission on Monday urged EU governments to end national programs selling citizenships to investors, also known as “golden passports,” and asked them to suspend visa sales to Russians and Belarusians.
The move follows a new push by the European Parliament to shrink and regulate the multi-billion dollar citizenship and visa industry, which lawmakers see as a security risk.
It comes amid concerns that people hit by European Union sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be holders of EU golden visas or passports.
“Some Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions or significant supporters of the war in Ukraine may have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU under these programs, including free travel in the Schengen area,” said the European Commission on Monday.
Since the beginning of the Russian aggression, which Moscow calls a special operation, the EU has blacklisted nearly 700 high-ranking politicians, businessmen and military officials accused of supporting the Kremlin.
The Commission called for an immediate end to existing national programs for the sale of passports. Currently only Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria have such schemes and all have committed to ending them.
Brussels also said governments should check whether sanctioned people held a golden passport or visa they had previously issued.
Those countries should decide whether to cancel those passports and immediately revoke their residency permits, the commission said.
There are golden visa programs and golden passport programs in several EU countries.
The Commission refrained from calling for the end of the golden visa schemes, but urged strict controls and urged EU governments to suspend the issuance of residency permits to Russians and Belarusians.
https://www.independent.ie/news/calls-to-end-golden-passport-schemes-and-halt-sales-of-visas-to-russians-41495213.html Calls to end the golden passport system and stop selling visas to Russians