Applications for residency permits through the Hungarian government’s so-called residency bond program dramatically increased in November after official announcements in October suggested the program would be eliminated at the end of the year, mno.hu reports.
216 residency applications were accepted through the program in November, four times more than in September and October combined. Chinese intermediaries brokering the sale of the bonds are reportedly unable to keep up with the number of requests following an uptick in their efforts to make sales before the program ends.
“The bond program is expected to tighten,” Chinese intermediaries announced in October. “You should take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity!’
However, recent signs indicate the program will continue at least into the first quarter of next year, contrary to promises by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár. No motion was made to change the law during Parliament’s final 2016 session. Chinese intermediaries are also assuring potential buyers that “despite the Hungarian opposition parties asking for a stop to the settlement bond program, the failed constitutional amendment does not influence immigration provided by bond purchases, so the program will continue into 2017.”
The program has generated at least HUF 97.5 billion (USD 329 million) in revenue for five offshore brokerage firms given the exclusive right by the Fidesz-majority Parliamentary Economics Commission to peddle the bonds to a certain country or region. In addition to a brokerage fee of at least EUR 60,000, the firms make a substantial profit on the spread between interest paid them by the Hungarian Treasury and the amount they, in turn, remit to their clients. 4,247 residency permits have been issued to date. As the permits apply to immediate family members as well, the right to settle in Hungary and travel freely within Schengen has been awarded to over 15,000 individuals since the program began in 2012.
The dramatic increase in bond sales is likely to continue in coming months until the program is finally ended, guaranteeing the shady offshore brokerage firms a continued windfall as wealthy foreign applicants and the firms themselves rush to take advantage of “the opportunity of a lifetime.”