To an investor, a powerful second passport can offer great freedom in terms of travel without restriction and a strong consular support system while abroad. You also get a new place to call home, access all privileges a citizen is entitled to as well as enjoy retirement benefits.
Citizenship by investment programs are of tremendous benefit to the countries offering them too. Foreign investments in government approved real estate and commercial enterprises not only injects capital in the economy, it is also an effective avenue for infrastructural development and growth. This is especially true for countries with a smaller population and geographical area. Some countries even endorse citizenship through investment programs by providing opportunities such as tax exemptions and employment plus education benefits for investors’ families.
Permanent residency vs. Citizenship
Some countries such as Cyprus, Malta and Caribbean countries including Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis provide a direct route to citizenship through investment. Others like Australia, UK and US initially offer permanent residency to the investors. Each of these countries has determined a specific amount of time after which the residents will become eligible to legally apply for citizenship.
Types of investments
Most countries offer two investment options for the residency or citizenship program – Investment in government approved real estate or local business which will be owned by the investor, or a donation to the chosen country’s economy. In some cases, you may be required to settle both.
The basic requirements
Each country has established its own set of regulations and guidelines for the citizenship by investment program. However, the following 3 requirements are a prerequisite for every application.
- A predetermined minimum required investment amount
- Proof of lawful source of invested funds
- Documentation supporting investor’s business experience and background in industry
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Which countries offer such programs?
Citizenship by investment programs offered by the following countries are streamlined, best rated in terms of minimum investment amount, citizenship timeline, ease of processing, freedom of movement, standard of living, and are open to anyone satisfying the aforementioned requirements.
- Dominica – Caribbean countries offer some of the best schemes in the world to obtain a second passport. The Dominican passport, available at a $100,000 price point and an average processing time of under 2 months, is a popular choice among expats.
- St. Kitts and Nevis – The citizenship by investment program here starts at $200,000 real estate held for at least 7 years before resale plus related government and due diligence fees or $150,000 donation to the Sustainable Growth Fund.
- Grenada – The CBI program in Grenada starts at $150,000 donation to National Transformation Fund or $350,000 approved real estate investment per individual applicant.
- Antigua and Barbuda – The country offers citizenship starting at $100,000 real estate investment per applicant plus a $25,000 government donation.
- St. Lucia – St. Lucia is the latest to offer the CBI program in the Caribbean. Their donation option costs $100,000 for a single applicant and investment requirements are $300,000 in approved real estate.
- Vanuatu – This chain of 80 islands in the South Pacific offers one of the fastest economic passport programs at $150,000 investment in a local development fund.
- Cyprus – Cyprus offers one of the quickest, certain and direct routes to a European citizenship. At approximately $2.4 million real estate investment plus $84,000 Government Research and Development Fund and another $84,000 for Land Development Organization, it is also one of the most expensive.
- Malta – The Malta economic citizenship program requires a $728,000 donation to the development of Malta, a purchase of $168,000 government bonds and a property transaction of $392,000 per applicant.