Official and Legal Citizenship by Investment Programs

Citizenship by Investment

Citizenship-by investment programs attract a number of high net worth individuals in developing nations, looking to add a second passport  in their investment portfolio. A second passport provides a greater mobility along with visa free travel freedom.

Joachim Stern (2011) coined the term jus pecuniae for acquisition of citizenship through financial contributions and to describe the bureaucratic fees for citizenship applications.

St Kitts introduced the first citizenship by investment program in 1984, then Dominica joined in 1993 and it was only in 2014 many more countries joined the CIP club and the market for investment citizenship gained momentum giving rise to a $2 billion dollar industry. The Citizenship by investment programs have exploded since 2016. Recently St Lucia and Vanuatu joined the citizenship by investment market along with Malta and Cyprus in Europe.

According to IMF article   “Offering citizenship in return for investment has been a “win-win” for some small Caribbean states. The substantial inflows of funds from these programs have helped boost employment and growth. Inflows to the public sector alone in St. Kitts and Nevis had grown to nearly 25 percent of GDP as of 2013”.

Another IMF article says Citizenship by investment is a growing phenomenon –  The rapid growth of private wealth, especially in emerging market economies, has led to a significant increase in affluent people interested in greater global mobility and fewer travel obstacles posed by visa restrictions, which became increasingly burdensome after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This prompted a recent proliferation of so-called citizenship-by-investment or economic citizenship programs, which allow high-net-worth people from developing or emerging economy countries to legitimately acquire passports that facilitate international travel in Europe and Schengen Area.

Christian Kalin, Chairman of Henley and Partners says, “A second citizenship is like an insurance policy of the 21st century”

CBI Index, a survey on citizenship by investment programs, rated Malta, St Kitts and Nevis and Malta for the best countries for due diligence.

Why Second Citizenship?

  • Mobility and visa free travel freedom (visa waiver)
  • Safety, privacy and protection from war, political problems
  • Dual citizen status
  • Better education for children.
  • Opportunity to invest in international real estate markets.
  • Tax planning on worldwide income
  • Ease of doing business

The most important reason why these ‘citizen by investment’ programs gained so much popularity recently, citizenships are approved  very fast within 2-3 months without any trip to the country and there are no residency requirements. Exceptions are Malta requires one year residency, Cyprus requires 6 months prior residency.

Citizenship by Investment Options

There are number of investment options available under citizenship-by-investment.

  • Contribution to Government fund (one-time)
  • Approved Real estate investment
  • Approved Business/Enterprise investment
  • Approved Government bonds, Share capital or Investment funds
  • Bank deposit

Official and Legal Citizenship Programs

Here are the list of only countries that have official and legal citizenship by investment programs in the World. We will also compare the value of these passports using three different passport ranking indexes.

1. St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis has the oldest citizenship by investment program in the Caribbean. St Kitts and Nevis requires USD 250,000 one time contribution or USD 400,000 real estate investment to qualify citizenship. There are no residency requirements nor a visit required to get the Kittitian passport. There is 60 day fast track application process available with St Kitts and Nevis. St Kitts passport issued under CIP is valid for 10 years.

St Kitts Passport Ranking
CBI Index  88%
Nomad Passport Index #50
Henley Visa Index 2017  #30

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St Kitts passport has visa free access to 136 countries in the world.

 

2. Saint Lucia

St Lucia requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 300,000 (real estate investment) to get citizenship. The citizenship processing time is 2-3 months. St Lucia in 2017 amended their citizenship laws to decrease the investment amount $100,000 making it one of the competitive and attractive CIP’s in the Caribbean. There are no residence requirements and no visit to St Lucia required to get the St Lucian passport.

The St Lucian passport issued under CBI program is valid for 10 years.

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St Lucia Citizenship by Investment

Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/16618966@N08/

Saint Lucia passport has visa free access to 127 world countries, according to Henley 2017 visa restrictions index.

St Lucia Passport Ranking
CBI Index 76%
Nomad Passport Index #59
Henley Visa Index 2017 #36

 3. Dominica

Dominica is the most popular citizenship program in the Caribbean. Dominica requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 200,000 real estate investment to qualify for becoming a Citizen of Dominica. The processing time for passport is 6 months. There are no residence requirements nor visit to the country required to become a ‘Dominica Citizen’. Dominica passport issued under CIP is valid for 10 years.

Dominica passport has visa free access to 119 world countries, according to Henley 2017 visa restrictions index.

Dominica Passport Ranking
CBI Index 90%
Nomad Passport Index #65
Henley Visa Index 2017 #40
Dominica Citizenship by Investment

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/galfred/

4. Grenada

Grenada’s CBI passport  one of the best passports in the Caribbean.  Grenada requires USD 200,000 (contribution) or USD 350,000 (real estate investment ) to become a ‘Grenadian citizen’. The processing time for passport is 2 months. There are no residence requirements and no visit to Grenada required to get the citizenship. Grenada has small advantage compared to other caribbean passports for these reasons.

  • Only CBI passport which has visa free waiver with China.
  • Only CBI passport which has option to apply for E-2 treaty visa to US.  (E2 is cheaper EB-5 alternative which is a non immigrant visa )

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Grenadian passport has visa free access to 124 countries according to Henley visa index 2017. Grenada passport issued under CBI program is valid for 5 years.

Grenada Passport Ranking
CBI Index 85%
Nomad Passport Index #68
Henley Visa Index 2017 #37

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

5. Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda requires USD 200,000 (contribution) or USD 400,000 (real estate investment) to become a Citizen. There are no residence requirements when you apply for passport for the first time but when you renew your passport after expiry, you must have visited Antigua for 5 days in the previous 5 year period.  There is also no requirement to visit the country for receiving citizenship or passport initially. The passport processing time is 4 months. Antigua CIP passport is valid for 5 years before expiry.

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Antigua and Barbuda passport has visa free travel to 136 countries according to Henley visa index 2017.  Antigua and Barbuda recently lost their visa waiver agreement with Canada causing its passport to drop its value.

Antigua & Barbuda Passport Ranking
CBI Index 78%
Nomad Passport Index #58
Henley Visa Index 2017 #30
Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment

Antigua & Barbuda – English Harbour – Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andryn2006/

6. Vanuatu

Vanuatu has new citizenship by investment program in the South Pacific. Vanuatu requires USD 200,000 (one time contribution) to receive citizenship and passport. The passport processing time is about 2-3 months. One main advantage of Vanuatu passport is it has visa free travel to Russia which other CBI passports dont have. There are no residence requirements but there is a personal visit required to Vanuatu for receiving the passport.

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Vanuatu has visa free access to 113 countries in the world, according to Henley visa index 2017. Vanuatu CIP passport is valid for 5 years and validity can be extended.

Vanuatu Passport Ranking
CBI Index 76%
Nomad Passport Index #69
Henley Visa Index 2017 #45

Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment

7. Malta

Malta has the official citizenship by investment program (Malta IIP)  in Europe approved by the European Commission. The citizenship under investment is limited to 1500 applicants.  Malta requires a total EUR 900,000 investment in Malta to become a Maltese citizen (also EU citizen).  There is a one year (12 month) residency requirement and it takes about 15 months to get the Maltese passport. The application approval time is 2 months. Malta IIP has very strict due diligence and vetting policy and application refusals are very high. Malta passport issued under IIP is valid for 10 years.

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Malta passport is one of the best and highly respected travel documents in the world with visa free access to 167 world countries, according to Henley visa index 2017.

Malta Passport Ranking
CBI Index 64%
Nomad Passport Index #18
Henley Visa Index 2017 #10

Malta Citizenship by Investment

8. Cyprus

Cyprus also has a legal and official citizenship by investment program in Europe. Cyprus requires EUR 2,000,000 investment in Real estate, Bonds or in Enterprise projects. You have to visit the country to receive citizenship and there is a new 6 month residency requirement (hold residence card) before applying for Cypriot passport. You become a EU citizen by getting a citizenship in Cyprus. The application processing time is about 3 months. It takes all in all 8 months to get the Cyprus passport after making the investment.

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Cyprus passport is one the best travel documents highly respected in the world with visa free travel to 158 world countries.

Cyprus Passport Ranking
CBI Index 67%
Nomad Passport Index #38
Henley Visa Index 2017 #16
Cyprus beach

Nissi Beach, Cyprus – Source: wikipedia

9. Comoros

The Union of Comoros has a citizenship by investment program in the African Union. which requires a one time payment of USD 45,000 to qualify for Comoros passport. There are no residence requirements and no visit to country required. It is one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest passports to acquire under the CIP program.

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Comoros passport is not a very reputable passport will only serve as identification document and visa free travel is possible to only 48 countries according to Henley visa index 2017.  You cannot visit Schengen Area or UK using Comoros passport.

Update: Comoros citizenship program closed from May 2017 until further notice.

Comoros Passport Ranking
CBI Index 66%
Nomad Passport Index #140
Henley Visa Index 2017 #88
Comoros Citizenship by Investment

Comoros – Flickr Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidstanleytravel/

10. Samoa

Samoa has a citizenship by investment program in the Pacific and a common wealth country. Samoa requires US$ 1,000,000 investment in Tourism, Real estate, Manufacturing or in a Government fund under the Citizenship Investment Act 2015 and its Regulations 2015.  Initially permanent residence card is granted to the investors which is then converted to Samoan citizenship after 3 years. Citizens of Samoa also qualify for a Samoan passport.

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The Samoa passport has visa free travel to Russia, Canada, Schengen Area, United Kingdom etc, a total 114 world countries according to Henley visa index 2017.

Samoa Passport Ranking
CBI Index
Nomad Passport Index #78
Henley Visa Index 2017 #44

Samoa Citizenship by Investment

11. Turkey

Turkey launched a new citizenship by investment program  under Official Gazette on January 12, 2017. Foreign investors qualify for Turkish citizenship buying $1,000,000 worth of real estate in Turkey or $2,000,000 enterprise investment in Turkey or $3,000,000 worth of Government bonds.

Turkish passport has visa free access to only 105 world countries. One of the reasons why Turkish citizenship program is not popular is Turkish citizens (passport holders) still need visas to travel to Schengen Area, Canada or United Kingdom.

Turkey Passport Ranking
CBI Index
Nomad Passport Index #88
Henley Visa Index 2017 #52
Turkey Citizenship by Investment

Istanbul – Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/

12. Cambodia

Cambodia offers citizenship against cash donation USD 250,000 to economic rebuilding of Cambodia, according to Article 12 Law of 1996 Nationality Act. No residence requirements.

Cambodian passport has visa free access to 44 countries in the world including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore etc.. according to Henley visa index. Cambodia passport is usually valid for 10 years.

Cambodia Passport Ranking
CBI Index 53%
Nomad Passport Index #143
Henley Visa Index 2017 #52
Cambodia citizenship by investment

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/scuba_beer/

13. Montenegro

Montenegro special investor program is likely to open in the future.  Montenegro is a candidate country for membership of the EU.  Montenegro passport provides free movement in EU for its citizens. Montenegro also has visa waiver with Russia but visa required for Montenegrin citizens to visit United Kingdom, Canada and United States.

Montenegrin passport has visa free travel to 107 countries, according to Henley visa index 2017.

Montenegro Passport Ranking
CBI Index
Nomad Passport Index #143
Henley Visa Index 2017 #76

Montenegro citizenship by investment

Article Credit: citizenshipbyinvestment.ch


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Balakrishnan Prabhu

Mr. Balakrishnan Prabhu is the founder of Corpocrat magazine. He is also the founder of Best Citizenships (BC), assisting wealthy individuals with with global citizenship and residency programs in Europe. His other interests are Linux, Machine learning, Wordpress, etc. You can contact him here