Citizenship by investment (CIP). Perhaps you’ve heard the term before. Perhaps you’ve even already considered it. But, you’re put off by legal regulations and aren’t sure which country is the best choice. Want to know which Citizenship by Investment programs are quick to obtain and bring you the most benefits? Read on.
Citizenship by investment is one of the simpler ways to obtain a second citizenship without lengthy bureaucratic process and disruptions to your schedule. (Especially if you consult with experienced professionals to make it an easy and frictionless process!).
In this article we’ll introduce the concept of Citizenship by Investment Programs. We’ll explore why they can be a desirable solution, who can benefit from it the most, and we’ll list top Citizenship by Investment programs.
What is Citizenship by Investment? A deep dive
You’re probably familiar with some of the most typical ways of acquiring second citizenship, or might even have one yourself!
Citizenship rules are governed by nationality law (citizenship law). While the specific rules will vary by jurisdiction, most typically people get citizenship if they:
- Are born in a certain country.
- Have at least one parent who is a citizen of the country.
- Are married to a citizen of a country.
- Have undergone a process of naturalization, the rules of which differ country to country dependent.
Just to clean up the terminology here: Having a second citizenship is the same as having dual nationality, so we will be using the terms interchangeably.
Depending on your nationality, you might be legally allowed to have more than two citizenships. For example, the U.S. government recognises the right of U.S. citizens to have at least dual citizenship.
In other places, for example in Norway, you might automatically lose your original citizenship when you acquire another one. You can check one of many online lists, but to be on the safe side it’s always best to consult with experts before you take the plunge!
Problems with second citizenships
There are several challenges with the above ways of getting a second citizenship. The first two methods are not under your control—you can’t choose your parents or where you were born— and getting married just for the sake of foreign citizenship should be better left in the realm of movie plots.
For those wishing to get a second citizenship, the naturalization process is usually the most common option. But, it can be lengthy and cumbersome. Depending on the location it depends on several factors:
- Length of residence. There is typically a minimum requirement for living in the country before you can try to get naturalized as a citizen.
- Family relationships. Marriage or a civil partnership with a citizen will influence other requirements, for example the required length of residence.
- Language tests. Some countries demand a specific level of knowledge of the local language and/or culture, for example the UK requires applicants to take the Life in the UK test.
You’ll be happy to learn that choosing Citizenship by Investment makes you exempt from most of the above requirements. Our experts at Relocate Antigua will be happy to explain more about this option.
So, what it Citizenship by Investment?
In simple terms, Citizenship by Investment allows you to acquire a second citizenship based on your investment in the local economy.
In other words, there are countries which attract foreign investment in exchange for citizenship, for example Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Vanuatu, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, among others. The list is constantly evolving—in 2018, for instance, Moldova and Montenegro joined the ranks of countries offering Citizenship by Investment Programs.
Why is Citizenship by Investment special?
With immigrant investment programs you can get a resident or citizen status in exchange for investment.
There are around 75 Residency by Investment programs available, but there is also a [difference in privileges between citizenship and residence][LINK to post on residence] and one might be better suited for one situation than the other.
For example, citizenship offers you freedom of travel in and out of a country without a minimum stay requirement. It’s ideal if you are not able to or don’t intend to relocate, but want to get the benefits of an extra passport. If, however, you only want to be able to work or study in another country, residency will typically be enough.
Governments of most countries can, at their discretion, grant citizenship to chosen individuals. The decision is usually based on the applicant’s special talent, contribution to the economy, society, or culture. This type of citizenship is granted extremely rarely.
It’s not that rare for countries to offer Citizenship by Investment Programs. There are in fact, over 20 countries that do so! However, the types of programs they offer vary.
Citizenship by Investment: Factors to consider
There is a variety of Citizenship by Investment programs. However, the programs differ quite a lot on several main factors:
- Minimal investment amount. Numbers can go from as low as $100,000 for CIP in Antigua and Barbuda, to approximately €2 million (around $2.24 million) in Cyprus.
- Type of investment allowed. Some countries allow a simple one-off donation to a local fund, for example the National Development fund in Antigua and Barbuda, or the National Economic Fund in St. Lucia. Others will involve additional investments. For example, Cyprus requires an extra investment in real estate, and in governmental bonds.
- Time per year required in the country. In Monaco, for example, it is only after 10 years you can apply for a citizenship. In other places, like Grenada, there are no requirements regarding the length of stay—you don’t even need to visit the country at all.
- Processing fees. There is always a cost associated with application processing. The final amount depends on whether you’re applying solo, or want to extend the CIP privileges to your spouse or other family members.
Needless to add, as with most governmental and legal procedures, the speed of processing your application and the complexity of legal rules surrounding the process will also vary by location. At Relocate Antigua we will be happy to assist you with our VIP service to make the process smoother.
It’s hard to keep track of all requirements and how they vary by location. What we’re happy to note is that Antigua and Barbuda is one of the friendlier jurisdictions for Citizenship by Investment Programs.
Citizenship by Investment: Your top options
The last point leads us smoothly into investigating top countries for Citizenship by Investment programs.
Disclaimer: Below we quote the latest sums and figures, but they can be changed by the country government departments responsible for the Citizenship by Investment arrangements. We therefore do not guarantee that they will be current at all times.
Antigua and Barbuda: Citizenship by investment from $100,000
Considering all the key factors mentioned above, Antigua and Barbuda ranks among one of the best Citizenship by Investment Programs available. We’re sure you want to learn why!
Antigua and Barbuda citizenship comes with several chief benefits
- Strong passport. With a passport power rank of 25 in June 2019, the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda gets you easy access to over 130 countries, including the entire EU and the UK.
- CARICOM membership. Antigua and Barbuda is also a member of CARICOM, a union of 15 Caribbean countries created with an objective to promote economic ties.
- No capital gains or estate taxes. That means you pay no tax on income generated outside of the country.
- Low minimum stay. During your first five years as a citizen, you are only required to spend five days in the country. But, trust us, considering the weather and local lifestyle, you will probably enjoy staying in Antigua and Barbuda for longer! And we’d be happy to assist you with [relocation][LINK to offer].
- Citizenship for eligible family members. Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship can encompass additional family members. Moreover, the fees for covering extra family members are relatively low— for a family of up to four people you’ll pay just $44-48k in processing and due diligence fees.
Now for the best part of Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment program: the required investment.
The minimal investment you need to make is just a $100,000 non-refundable donation to the National Development Fund. This is one of the lowest barriers of entry you will find among even the top Citizenship by Investment programs!
If you prefer other investment types, you can also opt to allocate $400,000 intoreal estate in Antigua and Barbuda, or invest $1,500,000 into a business venture.
Ready to proceed with Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment program? We’ll be happy to explain the details and help you kick start the process!
Dominica: Citizenship by Investment from $100,000
Like in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment program is known to be one of the cheapest in the world. In July 2019, Dominica’s passport comes high in the Arton’s passport power ranking, granting easy access to 125 countries.
What else contributes to the appeal of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment programs? Here are three extra reasons:
- It doesn’t exclude applicants from any country.
- Quick processing time.
- Low minimum amount for real estate investment.
Grenada: Citizenship by Investment from $150,000
Grenada joined the ranks of countries offering Citizenship by Investment programs in 2013.
While the program is cheap, it has some limitations. For example, as it comes to real estate investment, you can only invest in specific, approved projects.
Perks of Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment program include:
- Access to the USA E2 treaty investor visa. In common language it means that Grenada’s citizens can also reside in the U.S. and operate a business there.
- Visa-free/VOA access to Russia and China. This is a unique feature among CIP programs!
Malta: Citizenship by Investment worth a million!
In terms of passport power rank Malta’s rank 4 (in July 2019) beats all countries offering Citizenship by Investment programs. It’s perhaps no wonder then than the cost of obtaining Maltese citizenship is high.
Malta’s Citizenship by Investment program requires three different types of investments. Apart from a donation to Malta National Development and Social Fund, and a substantial investment into real estate, you also have to allocate money to government bonds. Altogether the minimal investment value amounts to more than a whopping $1 million.
A million dollars can sound like a big expense. But, the benefits that come with Malta’s Citizenship by Investment program are numerous. Most importantly you get an EU passport, which means you can study and work freely in any of the EU countries.
Secondly, once obtained, the citizenship will not only cover all eligible dependents, but is also hereditary—the nationality will be passed to your children.
It’s a fact that Malta’s Citizenship by Investment program is one of the most expensive in the world. However, as always, the real assessment depend on your personal cost benefit analysis.
Summing up: Is Citizenship by Investment for me?
To sum up the considerations above, getting a second citizenship:
- Comes with a lot of privileges.
- Can take a lot of time, and involve dealing with complex local regulations.
- Can be made easier in jurisdictions that offer Citizenship by Investment programs.
The amount of minimal investment and privileges included varies greatly among the top Citizenship by Investment programs. Some of the programs which combine low initial investment with the quickest processing times are offered by Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda.
At Relocate Antigua we assist you in getting a second citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda. Whether you’re interested in Citizenship by Investment, residency or, even if you’re not sure yet, get in touch!
Our experts have already helped countless businessmen and entrepreneurs and are keen to share their expertise with you to help you choose the right option.