Citizenship by Investment – The ultimate guide on CBI programs
So you’re considering citizenship by investment program? If you’re a high net-worth person, then you should probably be thinking of grabbing second citizenship (if you don’t have one already). Your personal and economic freedom can be expressed more dramatically with a second passport. Why wouldn’t you want that? When you obtain dual citizenship or even several citizenships, it places you on a different pedestal of freedom – you develop an internationalized version of yourself that protects you from being owned by any one government.
With a second passport, you won’t need to bother yourself with what happens if there’s civil unrest in your home nation or if your government suddenly wakes up and feels the urge to jack up taxes. You’re probably already inundated with the exigencies of keeping an eye on your growing net worth, looking after your business(es), as well as tending to your family. There’s no need to worry about any other things as long as you have a second passport that serves as a sort of “citizenship insurance”. Holding a second passport means you get to enjoy the benefits that come with it. These benefits include freedom to travel to several nations, tax optimization, protection against authoritarian governments, etc.
Getting a second passport can open a doorway to accessing several other countries and numerous exciting opportunities. If you are a native of a country whose international passport is limited by certain sanctions and other international barriers, holding a citizenship from another nation can be the platform you need to scale through those restrictions clipping your home nation. Acquiring second citizenship has several other pros and that’s why many people are doing everything they can to get it. As a result of this, there has been a rise in the number of citizenship by investment applicants.
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to take a thorough and in-depth look at all aspects of citizenship by investment (CBI) programs worldwide. We’re going to present you with the facts and all you need to begin your global freedom journey.
Ready? Let’s go!
What is Citizenship?
First of all, let’s get a basic understanding of what “citizenship” is. Citizenship refers to the rights accorded to you by the government of a nation in which you reside. These rights include the right to work, vote, live freely, travel anywhere within the country, and acquire real estate or property. This relationship between the individual and the state is exhibited as a shared responsibility of sorts where the government provides social amenities, including security and health services. And the individual is required to pay taxes and uphold the laws and customs of the nation. Citizenship fosters unity as it connects different people under one peculiar identity.
As we are about to go deep into the details of what good a second passport can do for you, let’s quickly discuss the background of a passport. Here’s one mindblowing fact – no one had passports before the first World War. Of course, everybody had to be a citizen of some region or the other. But they had no documents to present when they had to cross international borders. People were allowed to travel freely from country to country without border checks during the period before World War 1.
Things have changed so much today that it is almost hard to believe you could move to any nation without a passport at one point in time. Your passport describes your identity. Your passport is your access card determining where you can gain entry to outside of your first nation. And your passport identifies if your family can tag along with you when you travel outside your country—thinking of doing business outside your region? You won’t successfully pull it off without your passport.
It truly is a free world, and no one should be confined to be a slave to one government simply because they were born there. Throughout history, governments of different nations have utilized citizenship as a weapon of economic subjugation rather than something to hold dear. Previously, the passport was an instrument of convenience. For instance, your region’s leader gives you a set of documents so you can present to the leader of another territory as a request allowing you safe passage through their area.
Today, passports are used mainly for identification purposes. If your nation’s government decides to take your passport from you, you might as well start living under a rock. Just owe the U.S Government’s IRS a few cents and watch how they’d put a stop to your passport or refuse to issue you one. American citizens seem to be the worst hit by these unfriendly policies. The number of proposals raised at the White House to further limit freedom of movement among their citizens leaves one to wonder in bewilderment.
To make it worse, the United Kingdom, the United States, or any other passport affiliated to the “West” can land you in an awful fix in a rough, yet improbable situation. Certain countries are prone to be targeted during terrorist attacks. So, won’t it be wise if you have two passports?
Even when there’s relative peace in the Middle East, try waltzing into Iran with a US passport and see if you can run a business successfully there. Many nations are aware of the problems having a single passport can bring. That is why countries like Singapore and Switzerland have made it tedious for people to get second citizenship from them. They, too, are conscious of the growing global demand for second passports.
Most wealthy Russians, Chinese, and Middle Easterners fully understand the value of holding multiple citizenships beyond their home nations. As for several Americans living abroad, though, they are rueing the effects of how much a government can withhold their options. For example, a Dutch business person can outperform an American business person simply because they can travel to more places around the world to do business with little or no restrictions
Need we say more on why you desperately need to get a hold of that all-important second passport?
How to Obtain Citizenship of Another Country
A lot of people’s goal is to travel abroad, unhinged, and dealing with less paperwork. Meanwhile, some people may fall in love with a particular country and show a desire to live there permanently. These foreigners will need to obtain permanent residency or citizenship to achieve this. Moreover, every nation has different sets of laws and terms when it comes to acquiring citizenship. You will need to go through these rules before thinking about applying for permanent residency or citizenship.
The most common way to obtain citizenship and passports is by birth. Other ways include via marriage as well as naturalization. For the sake of clarity, naturalization is a procedure of acquiring citizenship by living in a country for a set number of years. The process might require applicants to undertake quizzes relating to the country before being granted citizenship.
Having ancestral links like parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents from some countries can grant you eligibility for second citizenship by descent. Citizenship by investment is another option to consider when it comes to obtaining a second passport. In fact, it has become an exclusive financial alternative to having dual citizenship since 1984.
Nearly every nation of the world offers a leeway to obtaining their citizenship. The process required is what sets each apart from the other. Thus, it is not out of place to see some procedures more difficult than others. As a result of this, depending on what nation you’re from and where you’re migrating, you’ll either find obtaining citizenship easier or more stringent than expected. Also, you may need to fill forms, pass interviews, language tests, and assessments on general knowledge of the country.
What is Citizenship by Investment?
Citizenship by investment entails individuals investing a specific amount of money in a country to obtain citizenship and a passport. Different countries offer citizenship by investment; thus, the investment amount required will vary (usually between $100,000 to over $2.5m). This amount does not include the applicable processing fees and other fees necessary to complete the application process.
Citizenship by investment (often referred to as CBI) is considered to be an exclusive short cut to owning a second passport. However, great care needs to be taken when choosing to invest in a country. And this is mostly because some of the countries offering it are more favorable than others. That said, you’ll need to gain comprehensive knowledge of what you’re getting yourself into regardless of how much you’re investing. Important to know is, that there is a non-refundable contribution route and a real estate route available, out of which your investment can be recoverable after a certain time.
One exciting thing about obtaining second citizenship is that some countries allow visa-free travel to several countries. So, while holding a passport from St Kitts & Nevis, for example, you can access over 154 countries without a visa. Although these countries do not include nations in North America or Australia, many of the countries accessible are developed nations. Thus, the passport from St Kitts & Nevis ranks among the highest quality in the world.
Benefits of Citizenship by Investment?
Getting a second passport is good, but getting a second passport of high-quality is better. Some governments are happy to welcome you with open arms once you throw in a few quids. And then others won’t mind leeching money off you wherever you go. For example, a certain US of A. Now, this is a strong reason why you have to think about getting a second passport.
Although citizenship by investment may be an expensive option of obtaining a second passport, it does have its benefits. Here are some of the advantages below:
1. Access to More Opportunities
Having dual citizenship opens a gateway to new and exciting opportunities. And this is because the nation offering you a second passport entitles you to services like healthcare, security, transport, education, and other benefits. These new opportunities can upgrade your quality of living, particularly if you’re migrating to a developed country from an underdeveloped or developing one. Fully utilizing these benefits can help you manage your finances better.
2. A Crucial Plan B in Times of Instability & Security Crisis
During political unrest and crisis in your country of origin, a second passport grants you the freedom to leave the country. Turmoil in the homeland can prove too volatile for living. As a result of this, citizens of other nations are repatriated back to their countries to protect them. Hence, citizenship by investment gets you a safe passage to your new home. Once evacuated to your new country, it becomes easier to adapt and begin life anew. Depending on the laws guiding your home country, you can always go back there after the dust settles as long as your home country allows dual citizenship. And this is where citizenship by investment trumps citizenship by immigration, which comes with travel restrictions for a length of time.
3. Potential Value for Money from Differences in Currency
The currency value from one nation to another varies significantly. Because of this, the chances are high that you may discover that the amount of money you earn from your origin country would have a higher buying power in the new country you’re a citizen. Consequently, this presents you with a unique opportunity to grow your wealth by investing more. You can amass more assets for a more significant ROI to boost your finances, thanks to the stronger currency from your home country.
4. The Opportunity of Getting Tax Breaks
You can enjoy the opportunity of tax breaks via citizenship by investment. For instance, if you hold a second passport in a Caribbean nation, for example, and you go ahead to become a tax resident, your tax rates will become lower by law. Thus, if you buy a second passport in St Lucia or Antigua & Barbuda, you’ll qualify for improved tax efficiency. Furthermore, Entrepreneur.com opines that “there is also the potential to classify any expense associated with your citizenship application (such as travel between the two countries) as a business expense, lowering your tax liability.”
5. The Option of New Business Opportunities
As a business owner, you might want to expand your enterprise to your new country. The entire process gets more relaxed when you obtain citizenship by investment. And this is because the requirements needed before a foreign investor can create a business are usually more tedious than what is required of a citizen. Starting up business operations increases your market share instantly. The prospects of getting new customers or clients can be hugely encouraging, especially if you offer a unique product or service that is of interest to individuals in the new location. Establishing your business in a new area is advantageous for business development research. It creates new opportunities for you to spread your investments, enhance your operations, limit operational costs, boost your profits, and so much more.
6. A Broader Knowledge of the World
If you hold dual citizenship, you’ll be immersed in different cultures. The good thing about this is that it grants you an expanded understanding of social dynamics. It also lets you have a more unobstructed view of how the world operates, which can benefit you in several ways. For starters, it can help you and your household develop a more robust understanding and compassion for others. You’ll get the chance to learn a new language and diversify your communication skills. You can make new friends and build stronger relationships that can add more joy to your life. Furthermore, it can also develop a sense of responsibility in you to induce change and improvement in various situations. Besides, you’ll see life in a different light and be more appreciative of your blessings.
Which Countries Give Citizenship by Investments?
Several countries across the world offer citizenship by investment programs. When people invest in some of these programs, they get citizenship for themselves and their dependents. Dependents typically include their parents, grandparents, offsprings, and even stepchildren. Over a dozen citizenship by investment programs exist today. They include five regions in the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia), eight nations in Europe (Austria, Montenegro, Malta, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Moldova, and Turkey), two Asian Countries, plus one country located in the Oceania (Vanuatu).
These programs come with varying costs tailored to each region, and there are usually different levels of fee payments. So this means that aside from the program’s actual price (investment or donation), you will likely have to pay government fees while factoring the other costs associated with owning a family. Besides, you may have to pay a commission to the agent who will present your citizenship application to the government.
Several firms offer their service as agents between you and the government of the region you are applying to. Some of these organizations are famous and popular; thus, they charge very high commission rates. Others are low-key and charge modest fees or half the amount that the well-known agents charge. However, the extra service you’ll get is the only thing setting them apart as the end goal of all these firms is getting you that citizenship and a second passport.
Most Popular Citizenship by Investments Countries
There are several reasons why people choose particular citizenship by investment country over others. Chief among these reasons is the strength of the passport concerning how many countries can be accessed visa-free. Saint Kitts & Nevis appears to be the most popular choice for many. And this is because an individual with the nation’s passport can access over 150 countries around the world visa-free, including Hong Kong and Singapore. Another critical point making St Kitts & Nevis an attractive choice to investors is the slash in its investment rate. It was recently reviewed from $195,000 to $150,000, for families, making it one of the cheapest citizens by investment countries. Other popular CBI destinations include Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Malta.
What Are the Easiest Countries to Get Citizenship?
Usually, many countries of the world bequeath citizenship on individuals born in that nation. So this is the easiest way to get a passport as it requires lower fees and fewer procedures to obtain one. However, when it comes to acquiring dual citizenship, more stringent requirements apply along with higher costs. As a business owner, you may be looking to expand your company to other countries. Or maybe you’re looking to move your family abroad to explore better opportunities than your home nation is offering. Perhaps you’ve approached retirement and desire to live the rest of your days in a different country. Whatever the reason you may have, getting citizenship from a foreign land is downright tricky.
Fortunately, some countries have made the citizenship process a lot easier by lowering the high costs and tasking requirements. If you want to obtain foreign citizenship without hassles, then consider applying to these countries below:
Commonwealth of Dominica has one of the most straightforward procedures for securing permanent residency. The reason is not that hard to see as they have simplified the requirements. As a retiree, your retirement income must not be lower than $1,500 monthly. For an individual who isn’t retiring, the requirement is a minimum of $2,000 monthly income. Two years after getting your permanent residency, you can apply for Dominican citizenship. To be eligible for citizenship, you will need to go through an interview in Spanish and pass a medical exam. The whole process can be completed under about three years. However, purchasing your citizenship through investment without having to live in Dominica can cost as much as $200,000.
Here, residing in the country for a year can grant you a naturalized citizen status. To complete the process of citizenship, you will have to live in Ireland for a cumulative total of at least four years within eight years. If you can prove to have Irish ancestry, the residency requirement can be skipped. For instance, if you have Irish parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, you can quickly become a citizen of Ireland.
In Singapore, you can become a permanent resident by merely working in the country, setting up your business there, or marrying a citizen. Applying for Singaporean citizenship can be done two years later. However, there is one vital point to note about Singaporean citizenship. Male residents of a particular age are expected to undergo National Service in the Singaporean army. As soon as the National Service is concluded, the male resident can push for citizenship.
Peru is another country whose citizenship requirements have been simplified. Within two years, you can apply for and become a citizen. Although it doesn’t come free as you will be required to pay around $25,000, however, the country has eased the financial constraint the payment can incur on individuals by allowing payments in installments. Before you can live in Peru, you’ll need a residency visa, applications of which are usually approved within three months. After migrating to Peru and living there for at least two years, you can apply for citizenship. You will be required to pass tests on subjects related to Peruvian nationalities like culture, history, and the Spanish language. However, if you marry a citizen of Peru, all the test requirements can be waived.
Other notable countries that offer the easiest citizenship applications include Macedonia, Uruguay, Russia, and Paraguay.
What Are the Requirements for A Citizenship by Investment Program?
Every country offering citizenship by investment has a set of requirements that applicants will need to perfect. For instance, there are programs requiring proof of good health via medical examinations, while others don’t expect this. Regardless of this, specific requirements can be considered to be universal to all of these programs. These include:
- Attaining a minimum of 18 years of age
- Having zero criminal records
- Declaring the source of the individual’s investment
- Investments in bonds, real estate, national economic fund or any other government-approved investment option
The entirety of these requirements must be met before the host nation’s government can approve citizenship applications.
Does My Country Allow Dual Citizenship?
Holding a second citizenship grants you the freedom to choose what nation you want to pledge your allegiance. It also ensures that no one country retains control over your resources or your freedom. However, not all countries allow their citizens to have a second passport. Thus, citizens of such countries are faced with a decision to renounce their original citizenship or relinquish their new one. That’s no different from swapping one passport for another, which isn’t cool. As a lot more countries are tapping into the prospects of dual citizenship, other countries against it are cracking down on their citizens who hold dual citizenship. It is essential to know the laws guiding dual citizenship in your country.
The list below highlights some countries that allow dual citizenship and some that allow but with conditions.
What Are My Options to Secure Citizenship Through Investment?
Citizenship by investment programs was created to allow you to obtain a new nationality and passport legally. Different countries offer various options for foreign nationals to be part of the citizenship by investment scheme. The four most popular options are given below:
1. Purchase Government Bonds
Some citizenship by investment countries allows applicants to their programs to purchase government bonds. This way, your investment is locked in an interest-free account over a period. Although this may seem an easy way to get your second citizenship and passport, it still comes with its downsides. Firstly, your money would have probably been better off investing in a cash-flowing business that can bring in ROI, but it just sits idly in the government’s repository with no returns. Secondly, there’s the counterparty risk posed by the government that needs to be considered. For instance, will the bond remain solvent enough to repay your capital at the end of the hold period?
When you look at the billions and trillions of money countries are spending on relief during this COVID-19 pandemic, you’d understand why this point is so apt. For example, countries in the Caribbean usually rely heavily on tourism to generate their GDP. The economic implications of global travel lockdown mean these nations are running at a considerable loss.
There’s also an opportunity cost involved when you invest in government bonds. Countries offering this citizenship by investment option usually request up to five times the amount generally required for outright donations. For example, St Lucia will provide you with a passport if you donate $100,000. However, at the moment, they have introduced the COVID-19 relief bonds option for acquiring a passport, which costs a combined total of $287,500 (basically, the bond is $250,000 + $37,500 in government fees). This is a significant decrease from the previous $500,000 bond requirement before the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were to go for the bond option, you would be expecting a $250,000 payment from the government of Saint Lucian after five years. In essence, it would mean you only paid $37,500 (which is the government fee) for the passport.
2. Donate to a Government Fund
Sometimes governments need money desperately to work on meaningful projects for their country. They can put up an offer of citizenship in exchange for funds donation from interested foreigners. When received, these funds are used to finance healthcare, education, and any other public infrastructure. With citizenship by donation, the individual will not be getting their money back since it is classed as a “donation.” This is the only drawback to this option of obtaining citizenship. However, when compared to the other options, donating to a government fund seems to be the best and easiest way of acquiring a second passport. It also appears to be the cheapest option.
3. Invest in Government Approved Real Estate Property
Individuals seeking a second passport can apply to countries offering investment in real estate property options. Here, a considerable portion of government-approved real estate is set aside for sale. Usually, the laws permit investors to sell their newly purchased properties after a specific period (between 3 to 7 years). If you’re fortunate, the local real estate market might record an increase in demand during this time, thus selling could prove profitable. You can choose to rent out the property and earn income from the investment. The good news is that these countries offering citizenship by investment through real estate often review their pricing from time to time. In fact, recently, some countries slashed their minimum investment amount. This means you should be able to invest in real estate for less and qualify for a second passport.
4. Invest in Approved Business
Investing in a government-approved business is is another useful option of obtaining a second passport via citizenship by investment. However, it is often more expensive than real estate investment. Another thing to note is that some Caribbean nations that offer citizenship by investment programs do not usually allow foreigners to invest in local businesses. However, those countries (including Turkey, Antigua, Cyprus, etc.) who do permit investments in businesses offer options that cut across different industries. So this makes it easier to analyze each investment while estimating the potential return on investment. If you’re going to opt for this alternative to acquire your second citizenship, be sure to understand every detail. As promising as investing in business seems, there’s also the chance of it going under within a few years. Thus, the rosy-looking investment might turn out to be an instead “overpriced donation.”
How to Choose a Citizenship by Investment Program
The individual interested in buying a second passport will ultimately seek to enjoy the added benefits of having it. Thus, it is imperative that the particular CBI program you pick suits precisely what you desire. Ultimately, the specific program you choose will depend on the following factors – your budget, your preference for donating an amount of money or investing for potential ROI. You’ll likely want to choose a country based on how well you are attracted to it. There are two primary criteria to look out for if you’re going to choose a citizenship by investment program.
1. How Many Countries Your New Passport Can Visit, Visa-free
This is very important, particularly for those who would be thinking of renouncing their original citizenship. So, keep it in mind. The most developed nations of the world provide visa-free travel for their people. For instance, citizens of the US, Canada, and several European countries can travel visa-free to over 150 nations. This category of passports is thus classified as the world’s most valuable travel documents. And just so you know, we also have a group for the worst passports in the world – countries providing visa-free travel to 60 countries or fewer fall under this blanket. It’d be a considerable upgrade to obtain a second passport with visa-free access to several other nations that your origin country probably lacks. So this opens up the chance to see exotic new places, but it also broadens the possibilities of manufacturing and trade opportunities, especially in countries around Southeast Asia.
2. Visa-free Travel to Countries Your Old Passport Couldn’t Access
This factor applies to those who are intent on retaining their initial citizenship. When you take advantage of both passports, the opportunities for work, business, and travel multiply significantly. For instance, an American citizen can benefit from holding a European passport that gives them boundless access across most nations on the continent except Russia. In essence, this American could live in the Netherlands, start-up a company and run business operations in low-tax Ireland, while enjoying travel across 26 countries in the European Schengen area passport-free.
However, an individual who already has citizenship in Europe would not enjoy the benefits of having a second European passport. This scenario explains why – a Spanish business owner can travel visa-free to over 180 countries. They can run a manufacturing firm in Southeast Asia and go there for visits as many times as they like. Although they could benefit from having multiple citizenships but holding a passport from, let’s say, St Lucia, can even benefit a Spanish citizen due to for example no taxation at all.
Other variables to consider when choosing a citizenship by investment program include:
1. The Passport’s Reputation
Although it rarely happens, some countries may not honor your citizenship if they doubt your passport’s legitimacy. Holding a top-level passport like the Maltese one ensures your chances of ever facing this weird issue never happens.
2. Blending in with the Culture or Race
You really can’t tell who is a racist from their physical appearance alone. So, you might encounter some form of racial prejudice from individual naïve immigration officers (in some countries) if your physical features do not look similar to those of people from your most recent citizenship nation. Due to Brazilians’ heterogeneous appearance and their ethnic mix, it would be difficult for anyone to disprove the travel document of an individual from that football-crazy South American nation.
3. Vibrant Financial Climate and Taxation
You won’t be happy to land in a new country where the chances of creating wealth are significantly limited. With a second passport, new tax obligations and adherence to the policies guiding business creation would be required. For instance, some foreigners living in the United States choose not to apply for American citizenship because they will be required to pay taxes on the income they make from their businesses globally. Ensure the country you’re applying to has (at least) endurable conditions for optimizing taxes and business opportunities. Fortunately, many citizenship by investment countries do not require their citizens to pay taxes on businesses they own outside their territory.
4. Military Service Obligations
It would be best if you were wary of individual military service obligations required of citizens in a country you’re applying to their CBI program. There are nations where all male citizens (of a particular age) are obligated to undergo military service. The requirements are different from country to country. While some may consist of just a few weeks of basic training, others might require a few years of active duty. The good thing is that, just like with taxes, most nations won’t permit you to go ahead with the military service requirement if you do not reside there.
5. Safety and Security
We live in an age of tension and geopolitical conflicts. New threats of global conflicts seem to rise every day. As world powers continue to flex their muscles while trying to dominate and spread their influence across other territories, citizens of the world are more concerned with protecting themselves and their families. It would help if you considered selecting countries that are not embroiled in any form of global conflict when choosing second citizenship. Go for nations whose interests are far from those major geopolitical players.
6. Environment and Ecology
You are moving to a new environment you are not used to can impact on your health and overall wellbeing. You may have to learn about the climate and weather conditions of the citizenship by investment countries you plan to apply to. This is crucial if you are considering moving your family along with you being that children and older people are more vulnerable to fall ill under poor weather conditions. You should also consider consulting your healthcare provider before traveling to your new country, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
Although you may not be looking to go back to school, however, you will need to put your wards’ education into consideration. Some citizenship by investment countries have a better education system than others. If you have kids and plan on moving them with you to your new country, you should go through the educational setup in these countries before choosing which to apply for.
Although these criteria are mainly objective views, choosing a passport program is totally up to your individual situation.
How can I get Citizenship Instantly?
There is a multitude of ways by which you can obtain citizenship. You can go through the lengthy naturalization process or acquire a second passport instantly if you have an ancestral link in another country like Italy or Ireland. However, if you don’t have any blood ties in another country, but you’re looking to speed up the second citizenship application process faster, there are a few ways to achieve it. Making a donation or an investment in a government fund, bonds, approved business, or local real estate property are ways you can get instant citizenship.
The country you invest in or donate to will process your application, and you’ll get a passport after that. It is important to note that the term “instant” doesn’t necessarily translate to getting a passport at the speed of light or in a matter of hours, especially if you go through the economic citizenship route. Getting second citizenship through these options usually takes three months or more after your documents have been submitted.
However, when you take a closer look at the process, it is the fastest way to obtain a second citizenship. Getting a second passport through economic citizenship programs won’t impede your daily routines. You’ll also have the chance to move your whole family to an entirely new, breath-taking location. This is because a good number of nations offering instant citizenship are situated in the Caribbean. Applying for immediate citizenship in these regions usually come cheap as well. You could quickly acquire a passport for yourself and your family (of 4) by paying as low as $100,000 (for example, Antigua & Barbuda). What’s more, the exclusive COVID-19 sales and the newly introduced COVID bond alternatives in the citizenship programs make passports even more affordable to buy in the Caribbean region.
Although each of the Caribbean citizenship by investment schemes allows visa-free travel to the Schengen Area of Europe, the standard or quality of the passport is not that high compared to those economic citizenship programs run by their European counterparts.
Below are some of the ways you can get citizenship instantly.
1. CBI (Citizenship by Investment)
Citizenship by investment is one of the fastest ways you can obtain a second passport. As long as you have significant capital, the entire process can be expedited in as little as three months. Several countries are offering varying citizenship by investment programs, and you can read up on that section later in this article. For a decent CBI second passport, you may have to part with at least $100,000 and above. Some of the best economic citizenship passports can be gotten from the Caribbean programs. For instance, the St Lucian passport can be obtained by donating $100,000 to the government region or investing $300,000. The passport guarantees visa-free access to over 140 countries. Malta also has an attractive economic citizenship program. You could invest from €1,000,000 and travel visa-free to over 180 countries after acquiring the passport. The only drawback is that it may take between 1 to 2 years before the passport is ready. However, it is still a faster alternative to naturalization.
2. Citizenship by Descent
As mentioned earlier, discovering links to your ancestry in a foreign nation can make your plan of getting a second passport quicker. All you have to do is prove that you have or had parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents who are/were citizens of that nation. Citizenship by descent can be a cheap and instant means you can use to fast-track the citizenship process in as little as six months. However, because the policies guiding citizenship by descent vary from country to country, there’s no telling what to expect. Some nations’ policies might become complicated during the process, and you may find yourself waiting up to two years before receiving your passport. This is before you even factor in how much time you’d spent rummaging through old family documents or archives to find the necessary information to prove your eligibility for citizenship by descent.
3. Citizenship by Marriage
Some countries grant citizenship by marriage. If you fall in love and get married to a foreign national, you could become a citizen of your spouse’s nation via naturalization. The waiting period for naturalization via marriage is usually short. However, you might still be required to learn your spouse’s national language. Although not many countries always offer citizenship for foreign spouses, a handful of them still does today. One thing you need to be careful with is marriage under pretenses, as some countries consider it as immigration fraud.
4. Citizenship by Special Circumstances
Being an exceptional individual or contributing a sizeable financial investment in a nation can make some countries’ leaders waive the general naturalization requirements and grant citizenship. Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian migrant in France who saved a baby from falling off the 4th floor of a building, comes to mind. French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced that he would be made a naturalized citizen after being hailed a hero. Sports athletes can also get instant citizenship in a foreign country, especially if they are proficient at what they do. This will allow them to represent their newly adopted country in major international sports competitions. Some of the countries that offer citizenship by special circumstances include Qatar, Singapore, and Albania. Austria’s economic citizenship scheme is alleged to contain a clause that allows for citizenship by special treatment or circumstance, but unfortunately, it is rarely used. This is because most people applying would be considered ineligible based on “not seeming Austrian enough.”
5. Residency by Investment (Leading to Citizenship)
Residency by investment is another alternative program you can apply for, which can lead to getting a second passport. Often referred to as “Golden Visas,” this program is popular among European nations. Truth is these European residency programs are the best because the potential passports are of a higher quality. The only downside is they can be quite expensive and can take a while before they are ready – usually after five years or more. Although you would have to spend significant sums to get them, these Golden Visas should not be confused with citizenship by investment programs. Golden Visas grant residency to applicants who can later acquire citizenship through naturalization. Some of the countries offering Golden Visas include Portugal, Latvia, Greece, Malta, Spain, and Cyprus. You’ll be given residency and citizenship as long as you meet the nation’s naturalization prerequisites. Thus, it would be best if you were prepared to learn the history and local language of the country.
Is Citizenship by Investment Appropriate for You?
Believe it or not, getting second citizenship is as important as adding fillings to a sandwich. The benefits that come with having a second passport cannot be overemphasized. In fact, you won’t be wrong if you consider a second passport as the ideal insurance policy. And this is because, with second citizenship, you will always have a place to travel. You could end up living or working or moving your business there permanently. You could also retire there or even use it as a sort of refuge to fall back on. This way, you could move yourself and your family whenever the political situation in the original country gets too tense.
Having second citizenship means you’re no longer bound to one nation. No single government can lay claim or wield authority over you. Indeed, multiple citizenships grant you options to choose from, and the more options you have, the more freedom for you and your family to experience. It is just one of those things that really should be considered a necessity, especially in dire times like this. With the COVID-19 pandemic and governments shutting down businesses while confining people to their homes, freedom suddenly becomes a premium commodity. If you had a choice, or better still, if you had somewhere else you could go to where people have a bit more freedom, you’d be willing to travel there as quickly as possible. So having a second passport puts you in relatively better shape than others forced to live like hamsters in a cage.
Thus, it is no wonder that the number of people seeking to purchase second citizenship has gone up since the coronavirus caused several countries to initiate state-wide lockdowns. People are tired of being controlled. It’s only natural for them to look for opportunities to obtain freedom. As ideal as owning a second passport looks, not many people are looking at the prospects of coughing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire one. However, citizenship by investment is just one of a few ways to obtain a second passport.
So, before you decide to purchase a second passport, consider the other alternative options first.
1. As a Regular Person
Being a citizen of a country leaves you open to several sovereign risks. Holding a second passport should be seen as an insurance policy, protecting you from these risks. Varying factors will decide if citizenship by investment is the right option for you. For instance, your wealth’s protection is a factor you should consider. You won’t think it wise to spend $15,000 on a car insurance policy covering an SUV worth $35,000. Instead, most people would opt for a more cost-effective way to get this crucial insurance policy without having to cough out that vast sum of money.
However, citizenship by investment is the easiest shortcut to having a second passport from the perspective of individuals with a significant number of assets. An American that obtains a second passport and renounces their US citizenship would likely be saving big on taxes. The reason is that American citizens are expected to pay home nation taxes regardless of whether they live.
Now, the very first alternative to citizenship by investment is citizenship by descent. So, take a careful look at your family tree. If you notice you have parents, grandparents, and or even great-grandparents with roots from Italy, Greece, Ireland, or many other countries, you might be eligible for a second passport. This is referred to as “jus sanguinis” or “the right of blood.” And several countries recognize the descendants of their citizens as their own. As long as you qualify for citizenship by descent, your kids and grandkids also get a second passport. So this means your entire generation (including those unborn), starting from you, now qualify for dual citizenship. This generational gift would have been a result of your effort and time – a more economical way to avoid paying through your nose to obtain a second passport.
Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate to have ancestral roots that grant them eligibility for second citizenship. So, another alternative that you can explore is to get residency in a foreign nation. Although getting foreign residency doesn’t guarantee you’ll instantly get a second passport, it comes with many advantages. In fact, it’s nearly as efficient as having a second passport. This is because no matter what goes on in your home nation, you’ve got a place you can go.
Also, you can significantly drop your tax rates if you choose a low-tax nation. Furthermore, some countries have put a territorial taxation system in place, such that you are only required to pay taxes only on income generated locally and not your income from other countries. Policies such as these can have a dramatic effect on your tax savings for you and your family.
To cap it off, the foreign residency also puts you on the lane to naturalization. By spending a couple of years of residency in a foreign country and meeting all the eligibility requirements, you will be able to apply for citizenship. Some nations do not even require you to live in their region or spend any time residing in the country before considering you eligible to apply for their citizenship. However, the government might need you to still have (to an extent) some significant connections like owning local real estate or (at least) having a small business generating local income.
2. As a High-Networth Individual
Arguably the most influential travel document in the world, the American passport grants visa-free access to many nations, not excluding most of Europe. Getting another passport through investment can be immensely beneficial for the right individual. The United States remains the only nation in the world today that taxes its citizen’s global income, regardless of whether they live on American soil or not.
Take a look at this scenario. A Briton moves to the Philippines, and after fulfilling the required obligations of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, they’ll be liable to pay taxes only to the Filipino authorities. On the other hand, Americans (making over $107,600 in income per year in 2020) who makes a similar move will have to remit taxes to both the Filipino and American revenue authorities.
Although they’ll get a tax break on their salaries, they will continue paying tax to the Internal Revenue Service on the first dollar of investment income regardless of their salary level. As an American, if you find yourself in this quagmire, your only escape route would be to renounce your citizenship. As drastic as that may look, it’s your only legal route out of the situation. By the way, before you even think of renouncing your American citizenship, you need first to get a second citizenship. Although it is not recommended, you could choose to forego first then obtain a second passport afterward.
If you’re a high-net-worth income earner, you’ll want to reduce your tax rates drastically. Citizenship by investment can make financial sense for you if lowered tax rates are your goal. However, you should take a look at other alternative tax reduction strategies before going ahead with renouncing your citizenship. The tax policy in the United States is flexible as it allows several opportunities for legally reducing tax liability to avoid resorting to renunciation.
You could opt for foreign residency as a high-income earner rather than obtain a second citizenship. The FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) in 2020 permits US expatriates to earn $107,600 every year, without tax remittance. Consequently, US taxpayers who reside overseas are eligible for the Foreign Housing Exclusion. Housing expense limits vary considerably, depending on what country you live in; for instance, the IRS permits you to deduct more in South Korea than in Nicaragua. Still, it often amounts to another $15,000 to $20,000 annually.
Another alternative is to embrace Puerto Rico’s attractive tax incentives. Some few years ago, the Puerto Rican government passed several favorable tax policies. The most famous of these are chapters 2 & 3 of the Incentives Code (formerly referred to as Act 22 and Act 20). In Chapter 3, entrepreneurs are permitted to operate certain businesses within Puerto Rico and part with only 4% in taxes. Chapter 2, on the other hand, permits individuals residing in Puerto Rico to generate limitless investment income as long as they obey a few simple rules and remit zero tax on it. This way, you get to enjoy ridiculously low tax rates as an investor or business owner without needing to give up your American citizenship.
There are still several other unique legal tax reduction strategies you can employ if you run a business. However, you might even choose to obtain a second passport via citizenship by investment if none of these strategies appeal to you. Remember that you may have to renounce your US citizenship if you want to lap up those juicy tax savings.
Financial professionals who work overseas as employees and earn much higher than the FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) limit permits will probably find this strategy more appealing. Paying around $100,000 for a citizenship by investment scheme can make a lot more sense if you earn millions of dollars annually. Furthermore, if the chunk of income comes from investments, you should consider choosing citizenship by investment. This is because the FEIE policy does not apply to income generated from investments.
Before you renounce your American citizenship, be sure to speak with legal and financial advisors and ponder on the inconveniences you may face when you travel, because your new passport will likely not be as high-valued as the US passport. That said, visiting the US or Canada will likely require you to apply for visas. Finally, citizenship by descent should be the first alternative to consider if you want a second passport. You never can tell that you might be eligible to own high-quality European citizenship that trumps the US passport.
3. As a Holder of Passport with Bad Reputation
You’ll be severely limited if your first passport has some restricted access to North America or Europe. You’ll find it hard to do any business in most of the world’s biggest economies. If you are unable to visit Europe or North America visa-free, your restrictions just got much worse. Look at Saudi Arabia, for instance. Its citizens are unable to travel visa-free to the United States, Japan, Germany, China, United Kingdom, or France. This group of countries has a GDP of $2 trillion or more. You can imagine the potential loss of business opportunities to be incurred from the travel obstructions placed on Saudi Arabians.
Russia, Australia, and many regions in South America are off-limits to Saudis and are subject to obtaining a visa. That’s why it comes as no surprise that many citizenship by investment applicants come from a few regions like China, the Middle East, and the ex-soviet bloc. Simply put, these are nations whose passports are disallowed from traveling visa-free to the West. Citizens of these countries have usually experienced several catastrophic events in their country’s history. Thus, they are most likely going to place little trust in their governments.
As these individuals grow their wealth, they tend to embrace the need to diversify their assets and lifestyle globally. China, for instance, has mounted more political crackdowns and stricter capital controls. This has spurred the need for its citizens to apply for second passport solutions in the US, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. The economic citizenship programs and citizenship by investment schemes in the Caribbean grants visa-free travel to the EU for work, business, or vacation. These programs are a perfect escape for those disconnected from the rest of the worldwide community.
But before purchasing second citizenship, holders of a “bad” passport should weigh their options well. One of the alternatives they can choose is to go for a points-based immigration visa. This visa gives residency to skilled immigrants and especially those whose skills are in high-demand areas like medicine and engineering. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are examples of countries offering this type of visa. Once you qualify, you’ll be able to immigrate to one of those countries. Furthermore, after residing in the country for about five years, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Another option a “bad” passport holder can opt for is, of course, citizenship by descent. This was covered earlier. However, if none of these alternatives are good enough for you, then you should get ready to apply for citizenship by investment.
What are the Benefits of a Good Passport?
Acquiring a second passport should be one of the things to cross off your list of achievements. If you’re going to get a second passport, you’d be wise to make sure it’s a good one, especially if you’re coming from a country having what could be considered a “bad” passport. So, what are the benefits of having a good passport?
Below is a list of what you stand to enjoy when you hold a good passport.
- Visit or live in a European nation visa-free
- Migrate freely across several countries
- Exclusive investor tax benefits
- Freedom to access education and national services
- ore business opportunities
- Eligibility for pension
- Members of your family (including your generation) also qualify for citizenship
- Overall upgraded quality of life
What are the Leading Citizenship by Investment Programs?
Quite several countries are currently offering citizenship by investment programs. In fact, the number of countries selling passports is expected to go up in the coming years. Many nations are beginning to realize the potential economic advantages of embracing immigrant investors. Some are more expensive than others due to the value of the passports. Without wasting much time, here’s a rundown of the leading citizenship by investment programs.
European Citizenship by Investment Programs
The European nations offering citizenship by investment schemes include Cyprus, Malta, and Montenegro.. However, before we go deep into these programs’ attributes, let’s first clear ourselves on the difference between the Schengen Area, the European Union, and the Eurozone.
Now, the Schengen Area, the European Union (EU), and the Eurozone are a collection of European nations separated by these three concepts.
|The European Union (EU)||The Schengen Area||The Eurozone|
|Czech Republic||Czech Republic||Czech Republic|
Except for the United Kingdom, the EU consists of 27 economic and political union of European states operating within a single market that allows free movement of individuals, goods & services, and money.
The Schengen area comprises 26 European nations that have agreed to set aside passports and several other border control requirements to ease travel between the member states. Thus, traveling from Italy to France is akin to moving from Texas to California. The Schengen area will welcome new members in the future when Romania, Croatia, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, who have shown interest, finally join the bloc.
The Eurozone consists of 19 nations, all of which are part of the EU. They have all adopted the euro as their single currency. Although Kosovo and Montenegro are not members of the Eurozone, they have also taken the euro as legal tender.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the European Citizen by Investment programs available.
There are several investment options in Cyprus citizenship by investment program. However, at €2,150,000 (V.A.T. inclusive), it is a weighty price to pay compared with the Malta citizenship by investment scheme. The investment options include real estate, bonds, or securities (of a business in Cyprus, licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission), investment in a Cypriot company that has at least five local citizens as members of its staff. You can choose any of these options or combine them as you see fit. Whichever choice you make, you’ll still be required to buy a residence valued at €500,000.
The applicants who pick the real estate option will have this residence included in their €2,000,000 (fees inclusive) overall investment. At the same time, investors who opt for investing in Cypriot assets will also have the essential real estate purchase of €500,000 included in their €2,000,000 investment.
For applicants who decide to invest in real estate, remember that the Cypriot government requires you to pay Value-Added-Tax (V.A.T.) on your real estate investments. So this means your total payment for a Cypriot passport will likely be more than the minimum €2,000,000 required.
Also, Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen area; however, it matters little as Cyprus is still a member of the European Union. And this means you will only face border control whenever you decide to travel to Schengen areas like Greece, for example. This seems to be the only inconvenience you may encounter.
The fact that Cypriots are E.U. citizens means they have the right to live, do business, study, and work in any nation that belongs to the European Union faction. As such, this is why the reality that Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen bloc shouldn’t influence your decision against taking up second citizenship there.
What’s more, all the E.U. members presently who are yet to join the Schengen group are obliged to do so legally in the near future. So this means it is only a matter of time before the Cypriot passport gains visa-free access to Schengen countries. As a side note, only Ireland, as long as it’s still part of the European Union, is eligible to leave the group of nations.
You can get more information on Cyprus citizenship by investment program on their official website here.
Malta is the first citizenship by investment country approved by the EU. The Malta citizenship by investment scheme allows you to donate €650,000 to the National Development & Social Fund. And this covers a couple and 2 of their kids. (including €25,000 for a spouse and each minor child). Asides this, you will have to buy a real estate property valued at €350,000, which has to be kept unsold for at least five years.
If you’re not interested in purchasing real estate property, you can rent a Maltese property worth a yearly rent of €16,000 for five years. You’ll also be required to invest a minimum of €150,000 in government-approved stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments. These investments will also be locked for a minimum of five years.
In total, you’ll be spending €1,150,000 (government fees inclusive) to buy the Maltese passport. You’ll also have to secure residency as well. After successfully residing in Malta for 12 months, you will be given your passport and citizenship. Afterward, you can enjoy unfettered visa-free access to over 155 countries.
Malta’s CBI program has to be considered very competitive when juxtaposing its price tag and benefits with that of its other EU counterparts. Thus, it is arguably the passport with the best value for money in the European Union. To get more information on Malta’s citizenship by investment program, click here to access their official website.
Moldova belongs to the set of countries considered the poorest in Europe. It launched its citizenship by investment program in 2018. But in 2019, Moldova citizenship by investment was suspended with the administrators citing the need to review the scheme’s current operating procedures. As of July 2020, the Moldova CBI program remains on hold.
If the Moldovan government resumes the scheme and decides to retain the current application process, then you’ll be expected to pay a lowly one-time donation of €147,000. This amount increases to €201,000 if you are paying for a family of four (fees inclusive).
Although Moldova’s low passport price puts it on a similar level to the Caribbean citizenship by investment programs, it is arguably considered to be of the most inferior quality.
The reason is that, unlike Montenegro, which is billed to join the European Union in 2025, Moldova is quite a long way from becoming part of the association. Thus, Moldovan citizens will have to go through border control before they can enter EU countries. However, they will still enjoy travel to 106 countries (including the Schengen area) visa-free. They cannot, however, travel to the US, Canada, or United Kingdom.
The Moldovan passport is easily one of the most affordable citizenships in Europe. Besides, some people will find its low cost of living efficiently satisfactory along with its ease of access to several European nations. Check out more information about Moldova citizenship by investment here.
Montenegro is one of the newer citizenship by investment programs. Although the scheme officially began in November 2019, it was briefly put on a 4-month hold until May 2020 when it was reactivated.
Applicants seeking eligibility for Montenegro citizenship by investment will have to donate €100,000 to a government fund. Furthermore, you will have to buy government-approved real estate, which comes in two options.
The first alternative is a €250,000 real estate investment located in the central or northern regions of Montenegro (with the exclusion of the country’s capital, Podgorica, which is situated there). The downside to this is that those regions are less developed. The second alternative requires a €450,000 investment in Podgorica or an area closer to the country’s coastline.
The Montenegrin government is expected to increase the number of projects available for real estate investment in the future. However, presently, Montenegro’s passport is pretty much lower in price compared to Malta’s. Though, it is still more expensive than those in the Caribbean (some of which have similar or even better passports), which we will dive into later in this article.
Anyway, the Montenegrin passport will likely increase in value as the nation is poised to become a member state of the European Union come 2025. But for the moment, the passport grants visa-free access to 124 countries. So this means you can travel to any EU country without a visa, except for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Japan, and China.
Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs
Caribbean citizenship by investment countries takes the lead when it comes to the passport-trade scene. Simply put, they offer the best alternative if you’re trying to save money. Although EU nations like Cyprus and Malta may have better passports, their cost may be a turnoff for many.
At the moment, Caribbean passports are being sold cheaper than usual due to the COVID-19 lockdown rendering the economies crippled because of the lack of tourists. The first time they reduced their passports’ prices was back in 2017, shortly after the hurricane, which wreaked havoc on several infrastructures on the Islands. Many of the Caribbean nations, thus, realized the need to redevelop those damaged infrastructures. They needed money ASAP to rebuild quickly. So, they cut down the prices of their CBI programs.
Saint Kitts and Nevis came up with the newly discounted donation option that benefited applicants who could now save $45,000 for a family of four.
Grenada slashed its donation alternative by $50,000 (from $200,000 to $150,000) for a single applicant.
Saint Lucia also lowered its asking price for a single applicant to $100,000, which some consider being the best value passport to buy.
Antigua and Barbuda cut their minimum donation price by half and, thus, is the cheapest option for a family of four.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic meltdown following it, more countries are slashing their prices even further. For instance, Saint Lucia now competes excitingly with Antigua and Barbuda in the category of family applications. The complete package, including government fees, costs $168,900 for the Saint Lucian passport for a family of four. That of Antigua and Barbuda, on the other hand, requires a total of $146,972.
These nations offer steeper discounts for even bigger families. So, if you’re out to save more money for a second passport at the moment, these economic citizenship programs would be just perfect for you.
Now, let’s take a quite look at country specifics for second citizenship passports.
1. Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda’s National Development Fund (NDF) donation alternative makes it the cheapest way to acquire its passport. Applicants can swap a $100,000 donation (with fee payment of $37,500 for an individual or $45,000 for a family of 4) for a second passport that grants visa-free access to 150 nations that include the United Kingdom, the Schengen Area, and Brazil.
It has become even more affordable to acquire a passport for much larger families. Previously, a family of four, consisting of kids below 12 years of age, had to pay $145,000, encompassing the donation amount and government fees. (Kids who are over 12 years old will incur an additional due diligence fee.) Large families, however, had to pay much more. For instance, a family of six would have to pay a total amount close to $200,000. Now, though, families totaling six in number have an option to donate to a fund that is set up and dedicated to the development of the University of the West Indies. $150,000 covers the donation amount, and an extra $15,000 can be paid for an additional family member past the sixth one. When we sum up all the applicable government fees, the total cost for a family of six would be around $165,000. (Kids must be younger than 12 years of age).
Compared to Saint Lucia’s and the other Caribbean CBI programs, Antigua & Barbuda’s has the best value for families. The nation also has real estate investment and investment in local businesses as alternatives in their citizenship by investment program.
You can buy a government-approved real estate property for as low as $200,000 plus the required $45,000 fee for a family of four. You are also allowed to swap this property for another government-approved property of your choice as long as you hold your previous property for a minimum of five years.
The business investment option requires an applicant to pay $1.5 million (before fees) or $400,000 if the investment is made as a group. This option of acquiring the Antigua & Barbuda passport is not particularly compelling. However, you’re free to opt for it if it interests you. Check out this list of Antigua and Barbuda’s local business projects. You can find more information on their official citizenship by investment site here.
Commonwealth of Dominica citizenship by investment scheme is considered the best value in terms of real estate investment options among the other Caribbean nations. It costs just $1,979 per visa-free country, and as much as the price looks attractive, it may not be such a great option. This is because Dominica’s CBI program’s reputation is believed to be substandard from the perspective of several industry players.
Applicants to the Dominican real estate citizenship by investment are expected to buy a property worth at least $200,000. The total amount required of an individual to obtain the passport is $270,050, which covers government processing and due diligence fees. ($290,100 for a family of four).
The Dominican program also includes an option to donate. Through its Economic Development Fund (EDF), a family of four will get their citizenship after donating $175,000 to the EDF and $12,500 in fees. One sole applicant will have to donate a total amount of $108,500. Although this isn’t on the high side in terms of price, however, you’d probably be getting a better value if you opt for the Saint Lucian passport instead (which costs the same amount).
After fulfilling the requirements of the donation or real estate investment, investors are given a second passport. With a Dominican passport, you can visa-free travel to 139 nations, including the UK, Brazil, and the Schengen Area.
For investors who purchase the real estate option, there’s an important statement on the official website of the Dominican government: “In order to qualify for citizenship, you must hold authorized real estate for three years from the grant[ing] of citizenship. Furthermore, you may only resell that real estate under the Citizenship by Investment Programme after five years of receiving citizenship.”. You can learn more about this here.
Commencing as recently as 2013, the Grenada citizenship by investment program has swiftly positioned itself as one to take somewhat seriously among the list of other Caribbean CBI schemes. Investors interested in purchasing the Grenadian passport have a choice to donate to the National Transformation Fund (NTF) or purchase government-approved real estate property.
For $220,000 (fees inclusive), a family of four (including kids) will get their citizenship after donating to the NTF. The amount that single applicants, seeking to donate to the NTF, are required to pay is $150,000 plus an additional $8000 in fees.
A single investor choosing the real estate option will be required to part with $220,000 to purchase a property and add the necessary $58,000 that serves as the government’s application processing and due diligence fees. Also, the investor is expected to hold the property over a 5-year period.
Once the Grenadian passport is received, the citizens can travel visa-free to over 142 countries. These include the UK, the Schengen Area, and Brazil. In fact, Grenadians can even visit China without a visa! This single perk ensures it is the only Caribbean nation boasting this attribute.
Another thing to note is that, as of 1989, the United States government signed an agreement with Grenada, allowing Grenadian citizens to live and work in the US under the E-2 Investor visa treaty. For more information on Grenada citizenship by investment program, click here to browse through their website.
4. St. Kitts & Nevis
One of the oldest existing economic citizenship, Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program has racked up quite a brilliant reputation. From the outset, St Kitts offered two options for their program: a donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) and real estate investment. Later the new temporary donation alternative was introduced, referred to as the Hurricane Relief Fund.
Not long ago, though, the officials at St Kitts and Nevis came to a resolution to change the Hurricane Relief Fund from a temporary donation option to a permanent one. Thus, it was now renamed the Sustainable Growth Fund. Consequently, a single applicant aiming to donate will be required to pay $157,500, while a family of four will turn in $206,500 for a passport.
There are several pre-government-approved real estate projects to choose from if you opt for the investment alternative. They include villas, shares in hotels, and condominium units.
As of 2017, the required minimum amount for investing in Saint Kitts and Nevis real estate was cut by half when they offered investments in luxury resorts. The new price meant that a single applicant could invest a total of $242,550 or $282,700 for a family of four and get citizenship. However, if you choose to invest in other pre-approved real estates, the minimum amount starts at $400,000. You can sell off your property after seven years (or five years if you invested $400,000).
Whether you choose to donate or decide to invest, you’ll be getting your second passports as long as you meet all requirements. Saint Kitts and Nevis passport allow you to travel visa-free to 154 countries. So this makes it the number one Caribbean program with the highest quantity of visa-free countries access. It gives you 11 more exciting destinations than Saint Lucia.
5. St. Lucia
Some industry experts believe that Saint Lucia delivers the best value citizenship by investment program, amongst others. It’s not that hard to see why. It is one of the cheapest citizenship by investment program for single applicants. As a result of its COVID-19 discount, it also offers one of the best deals for families. Aside from its low price, the St Lucian program grants visa-free travel to 145 countries via a self-explanatory application process. Nations the St Lucian passport can access visa-free include the United Kingdom and the Schengen Area.
A single applicant can donate a total of $109,500 to St Lucia’s National Economic Fund (NEF) to obtain the passport. This, right here, is their cheapest option. A family of four will have to pay a total of $167,500 to acquire the St Lucian citizenship. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic sale, this amount is down by about $40,000 (initially around $207,500). And this makes Saint Lucia’s program a more competitive option when compared with Antigua & Barbuda’s family alternative.
An investor can choose to purchase real estate property or invest in government bonds. Real estate investment starts at a minimum of $300,000. Properties available are high-end boutique properties and high-end branded hotels. Total costs with fees amount to $372,500 for a family of four.
For applicants seeking to invest in the government bond option, investors are required to hold their bonds for a minimum of five years. Note that these bonds do not yield any interest and are usually quite pricey. A family of four would have to cough out $567,000 (fees inclusive) to get a second passport.
However, realizing how the global economy as stalled against the pandemic, the government introduced the COVID-19 relief bonds as part of its citizenship by investment scheme. As such, this is a much cheaper option as a single applicant can purchase bonds worth $287,500 and hold it for five years. On the other hand, a family of four can pay $292,500 worth of bonds and hold for seven years. Excluding the fees, an investor might be able to recoup their money at the end of the holding period.
Saint Lucia’s is arguably the most attractive citizenship by investment deal for single applicants. It can also compete confidently with other family passport programs due to its COVID-19 sale. Visit the Saint Lucian official citizenship by investment website for more details.
Other Citizenship by Investment Programs
Here are other notable citizenship by investment programs you can consider: Turkey and Vanuatu.
Turkey commenced its citizenship by investment program as early as 2017. Getting a Turkish passport requires a $1,000,000 investment into any local real estate property. However, because the Turks didn’t record any significant interest in its program in 2018, the authorities decided to slash the minimum investment from $1,000,000 to $250,000. This move made a lot of difference as it generated over 2,600 applications, making it the most popular citizenship by investment scheme in the world.
Unfortunately, not everyone might find Turkey appealing because, firstly, it’s a dominantly Muslim country. Because of this, the majority of its applicants come from the Middle East region. Also, Turkey’s political climate doesn’t look to be getting any better after the 2016 coup d’etat. Besides, the government seems to be getting more authoritarian each day.
Despite the political storm brewing in Turkey, you could still capitalize on the investment amount required to obtain a passport. The Turkish Lira has dropped massively in value against the dollar down the years due to the political turmoil in the Islamic nation. So this means that $250,000 you are expected to pay for a passport has dropped significantly further.
You can purchase a real estate property worth $250,000 to start the application process. You can also opt for investing in government bonds, a local business, or venture capital fund. And this requires you to up your investment amount to $500,000. Another option you can go for is to invest $500,000 in a local bank for a minimum of three years.
If you’ve always dreamed of living in Istanbul, well, here is your best chance to do so. Just buy a condo and get a Turkish passport as a reward. Unfortunately, the passport might not be all that great in value, yet it still gives you visa-free access to 112 countries. Notable countries excluded from the list include the Schengen Area, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan.
Located around the region of Oceania, Vanuatu is an archipelago Island located 1000 miles east of Australia. Vanuatu’s investor immigration program is channeled through the government’s Development Support Program. It is a non-refundable donation that requires a total amount of $180,000 for a family of four. After meeting the requirements, applicants get Ni-Vanuatu citizenship that guarantees impressive visa-free travel to 130 countries. The countries include Singapore, the United Kingdom, Russia, Hong Kong, and all the nations in the European continent.
Vanuatu citizenship by investment program is also the fastest with passports getting ready in as little as two months. However, this can come with its pros and cons because for the entire process to be concluded so quickly, it may mean that the officials are likely cutting corners when it comes to vetting the background of its applicants. A single oversight can potentially damage the reputation of the program in the future.
In October 2017, Vanuatu made the news the first citizenship by investment country to accept payments in cryptocurrency. Although this is laudable as it gives credit to cryptocurrency as a formidable legal tender for completing transactions, it is also commendable that the nation’s leaders embraced this new technological innovation. However, this puts the country in the target of criminals and hackers seeking to breach the security of the government’s Bitcoin wallet. If you are planning on paying for the Vanuatu citizenship program, it’d be wise to pay in fiat instead of cryptocurrency. To get more information on Vanuatu’s citizenship investment scheme, visit their official website here.
After going through this list of citizenship by investment countries, you might be puzzled and find it hard to pick. This table below will help you out.
|Country||# of Visa-Free Countries Accessible||Access to the USA||Access to the UK||Access to Schengen||Taxation of Individuals||Time to Citizenship||Cost Single Applicant||Cost Family of Four|
|Antigua & Barbuda||150||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||3- 6 Months||$100,000||$100,000|
|Dominica||139||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||3-6 Months||$100,000||$175,000|
|Grenada||142||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||3-6 Months||$150,000||$200,000|
|St Kitts & Nevis||154||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||3-6 Months||$150,000||$150,000|
|St Lucia||145||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||3-6 Months||$100,000||$100,000|
|Vanuatu||130||No||Yes||Yes||No Income Tax||2 Months||$130,000||$180,000|
The best overall citizenship would have to be Malta. For the best citizenship by investment value and the cheapest overall, you should choose Saint Lucia, especially if you’re a single applicant. The most affordable family package can be found in Antigua & Barbuda or Saint Lucia. If you want to get the best value European Union Passport, then go for the Maltese citizenship. However, the cheapest passport in Europe (but outside of the EU) is Turkey, while the most popular CBI program is Saint Kitts & Nevis citizenship by investment scheme.
European Citizenship by Investment Comparison: Malta vs Cyprus
When determining which European country best captures your citizenship needs, you’ll need to consider many things. Although there are critical differences in the requirements of both programs, Malta and Cyprus both deliver relatively competitive citizenship by investment scheme. Cyprus citizenship can take as long as 14 months, while that of Cyprus is usually ready in about six months.
Both Malta and Cyprus offer substantial travel advantages. Maltese citizenship makes it possible to travel freely to 182 nations. The countries include Australia, the United States, and Canada. The Cypriot passport grants visa-free access to around 173 countries with the exclusion of the United States.
Cyprus is part of the European Union and is yet to become a part of the Schengen Area. Unlike Cyprus, Malta is a member of the Schengen zone, and thus, holders of Maltese passports can travel visa-free and unhinged within the Schengen nations’ borders.
The Cypriot citizenship by investment program welcomes as many investors as possible to apply for a second passport. Malta, on the other hand, places a limit on the number of participants that are considered eligible. Since September 2017, the number of participants allowed was capped at 1200.
In the first year before receiving citizenship, Maltese authority requires applicants to live in the country for at least 183 days. They believe that this will help the citizenship prospects build a strong, real connection. Cyprus does not require its applicants to live in the country before getting their citizenship.
Caribbean Citizenship By Investment Comparison: Antigua & Barbuda vs Saint Lucia vs Dominica
If you’re looking to experience a new lifestyle, or have a second home, check out the Caribbean CBI programs. The citizenship programs in the Caribbean are becoming even more popular than ever. This is because they offer the cheapest, fastest, and most uncomplicated way of acquiring a passport.
There are different Caribbean citizenship by investment programs, but this section will discuss the Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Lucia, and Dominica.
Dominica citizenship by investment is the fastest way to get a second passport. It is also the cheapest when it comes to single applications. Within four months, your passport would likely be ready. The Dominican passport also grants full visa-free access to travel across 139 regions (including the Schengen Area).
Interested investors who qualify for Antigua & Barbuda’s citizenship by investment scheme will get a second passport without hassles. They will need to fulfill the requirement of investing (into a business or buying government-approved real estate property) or donating to the National Development Fund. As with other citizenship by investment programs, they will still need to pay due diligence fees and processing fees. However, the striking thing about Antigua & Barbuda is that the tiny island nation is super attractive and beautiful. You could call it a mini-paradise, and you won’t be wrong. Especially when you experience it’s natural, salubrious atmosphere. This fauna-rich country ranks as one of the safest countries in the Caribbean. Antigua & Barbuda is notable for its bevy of adorable islands numbering up to 365. It is definitely one place you’d consider the perfect destination for retirement because of its relaxed pace of life. The islands are replete with absolutely stunning scenery and crystal clear blue waters. If you’re crazy about scuba diving or sail-boating, Antigua & Barbuda should be your number one destination for the sport.
Complete with impressive safety records, breath-taking landscapes, and a high-earning population, Saint Lucia is a tropical eastern Caribbean island with a unique swag. St Lucia citizenship by investment program is also quick and seamless. The entire application process can be completed within four months. The program requires interested participants to donate to the government’s National Economic Fund or invest in real estate properties, government bonds, or other business enterprises. Investors can capitalize on its COVID-19 discount by opting for the COVID-19 bonds investment alternative. Besides, St Lucian citizenship by investment program also has the best deal when it comes to family packages.
Common Questions & Concerns
I’m Interested in Citizenship by Investment, How Do I Begin?
Over the last decade, the second citizenship universe has sailed smoothly with a few changes in recent years. For example, some countries are extending their naturalization timelines, making it longer than usual. Previously, it’d take three years to acquire citizenship by naturalization in Belgium, but changes in government policy have resulted in the requirements to be increased to five years. This was probably due to the influx of immigrants to the country. Belgium is not a country you’d want to run to if you’re seeking to lower your tax rates. Their income tax rates increase by as much as 50%. So, those who took up citizenship there likely did so because of the other benefits that come with holding a Belgian passport.
Georgia is another example of a nation that recently reviewed its naturalization process. Usually, you’d get your Georgian citizenship after six solid years, but now, it takes a decade. The Georgian government is basically testing your commitment if you really want to become a part of its people. During that period, you’d better have upped your knowledge of the Georgian culture and history while speaking the national language fluently. There’s no point faking it as you’ll be found out quickly.
Citizenship by investment programs has also increased their rates over the years. The necessary donation or investment requirements have been jacked up across several jurisdictions. Then there are those programs requiring you to invest in real estate to obtain citizenship. Well, real estate prices go up from season to season – meaning if you want to get a second passport by investing in real estate, you should probably do so now. The price would likely go up soon.
You won’t be happy with yourself if you miss out on the chance to jump on something that looks (and is) just right for you.
Caribbean citizenship programs can only be applied for through Registered Authorized Agents. Other programs, on the other hand, can be applied independently. The only trouble is investors may face several difficulties wading through the whole application process. And this is why it is better to have an experienced professional on hand to guide and support you through the intricate application process. Some of the advantages of having an expert consultant to put you through the procedure include:
- Reduction in the number of trips you have to make to the select country
- Having an experienced personal assistant working diligently on your behalf through the process
- Eliminates the risk or errors that may arise from submitting application forms
- Gain firsthand knowledge on the process from someone with many years of market experience
Feel free to seek help and ask for more information. You deserve some well thought out advice and excellent expertise before you make your decision.
At Passport Legacy, we have helped many individuals of repute break free from their boring single citizenship. We have over a decade of combined experience in the citizenship by investment field. Getting an alternative residence or citizenship shouldn’t be a procedure that gives you nightmares. We have oversimplified the process to make you satisfied with your choice of a location while saving you some extra quids with our affordable fee structure. Our clients have embraced dynamism and progressed towards diversifying their finances and passport collection. We are set and ready to help you coast through the entire citizenship or residency application process.
Why You Should Choose Passport Legacy
- Enjoy a complete in-house service.
- Professional service, including due diligence checks to streamline the procedure before commencing the application process.
- Procurement of documents, certifications, and language translations that clients will find it difficult to obtain on their own.
- Attractive fee structure.
- Several real estate property options to choose from.
- 100% approval rate.
- Pay only 30% of the entire cost for the program pending approval. (the 70% balance will be paid after approval of citizenship)
Passport Legacy Application Procedure
A) Pre-Application Background Check:
- To initiate the process, you will be required to submit the following documents:
- Passport Copy;
- Completed pre-screen questionnaire (will be provided by us)
- After receiving these documents, they will be submitted for a Pre-Application background check. This normally takes a maximum of 24 – 48 hours.
B) Pre-Application Deposit and Client Agreement:
- If the pre-screen background check is all clear, it is possible to formally initiate the process. At this point, an invoice will be issued and the pre-application deposit of $5,000 should be paid;
- A Client Facilitator Agreement between the Primary Applicant and Passport Legacy DMCC should be signed.
C) Prepare and Submit Application:
- Passport Legacy’s experienced consultants will assist you with every step of preparing your application, from gathering together all of the required documents, to filling in the required application forms.
- When your application is completely prepared and ready to be submitted, the second payment (due diligence and application fees minus the pre-application deposit) should be made.
- Your application will be submitted to the Citizenship by Investment Commission.
- The comprehensive due diligence check is initiated and the government processes the citizenship application.
D) Approval and Final Payment:
- An approval letter from the Government of the Commonwealth will be issued within 90 days informing you of your status as a Citizen of the country.
- Only upon approval of your application will you be required to make the final payment (full donation amount).
- The passport will be issued and couriered to us after confirming a scan of the passport. The Citizenship certificates will be within the same package. Upon receipt, we will meet and handover the citizenship documents.
Note that only about 30% of the total cost of the program must be paid prior to approval while the remaining 70% is only paid upon approval.
The era when holding one passport or citizenship is considered cool is long gone. Having dual citizenship is the new “cool.” With a second passport, you take your destiny in your own hands. No one government can hold claim over you. You can choose to be loyal to who you deem fit or worths being loyal to. Your alternate citizenship can be the shelter that protects your finances from harmful tax policies. It is the ticket that guarantees safe passage to your place of refuge during civil/political unrest in the home country. The debate over whether you should get a second passport is redundant. It is no longer an option BUT a necessity.
There are several ways to obtain a second passport. The cheapest option would be to be born in or have ancestral connections in another country. However, those are alternatives that you basically cannot influence if you have no ancestry outside your country of birth. So, you should probably look at getting married to a citizen of another nation. This looks great, but you’d still have to go through a lengthy naturalization process (which could take several years) that demands you to “literally” go back to school and study the culture, history, and language of your spouse’s country. No one has time for that.
So, why not just opt for citizenship by investment? The process for getting the second passport is faster and doesn’t require you to do the hula dance before you’re given your passport. You can choose to run your application by yourself and get tangled up in the whole process. You can wisely let the professionals at Passport Legacy put you through the entire procedure then cruise your way to becoming the proud owner of multiple citizenships.