Originally, once a person was born in a particular country, he or she would not have a chance to become a citizen of another country.
The opportunities found in other countries could therefore pass him.
The situation is now much better because, any person who is willing and able to invest a specified sum of money in the host country may apply for and be granted citizenship.
This is called Citizenship By Investment and it is acquired through a program called Immigrant Investor Program.
Interestingly, the applicant will not relinquish his or her existing citizenship as Citizenship by investment is a second citizenship.
Immigrant Investor Programs are programs designed to attract foreign capital and business people by providing the right of residence and citizenship in return. These programs are also known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI), golden visa, or golden passport programs.Just over a dozen countries in the world currently offer CBI. There is a higher concentration of CBI programs in the Caribbean, a region considered the cradle of second citizenship by investment.
The benefits to having dual citizenship include greater global mobility, new economic opportunity, better quality of life, and improved personal security.
Many people around the world have realized their potential and aspirations in socio-economic and political circles through acquisition of dual citizenship.
Immigrant Investor Programs usually have multiple criteria that must be fulfilled for the investment to qualify, often pertaining to job creation, purchasing of real estate, non-refundable contributions or specific targeted industries. Most of these programs are structured to ensure that the investment contributes to the welfare, advancement and economic development of the country in which they wish to reside or belong to.
Following is the criteria for qualification of CBI in the main countries where it is acknowledged:
The United Kingdom:
As one of the First World countries, the UK is one of the favorites for those wishing to acquire second citizenship and exploit the opportunities therein. Great Britain is a well-advanced economy and high-income country.
Investment in the UK will not guarantee acquisition of citizenship by investment but depending on the amount you invest, it can significantly reduce the time it takes to secure permanent residency. The Tier 1 (Investor) visa route is designed for this precise purpose and enables holders to settle in the UK after only two years. The UK government wants to encourage investors to the UK to contribute to the economy and has therefore made the “Tier 1” investor route as straightforward and fast as possible.
Securing UK permanent residency is based on the investment made.
Under the said “Tier 1”, investor visa holders can apply to settle (i.e. live permanently without immigration or any other restrictions) after the following period of continuous residence:
Two years if you invest £10 million
Three years if you invest £5 million
Five years if you invest £2 million
Apart from a required investment, the main applicant and dependants must also comply with the following criteria:
• Minimum age for the main applicant is 18 years.
• Dependants include spouses and minor children.
• Good health and no contagious diseases.
• Clean criminal and immigration record.
Other countries where one can apply for CBI and hence acquire a second passport are as follows:
Montenegro: To qualify, one will require EUR 350,000 plus other fees and investors issued permanent residence within a month and citizenship within 6 months. Each applicant must pay $100,000 for citizenship.
St Kitts and Nevis: To qualify, one requires USD 150,000 one time contribution or USD 200,000 real estate investment. There are no residency requirements, nor a visit required to get the Kittitian passport. There is a 60 day fast track application process available with St Kitts and Nevis.
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. There are no residence requirements and no visit to St Lucia required for getting the St Lucian passport.
Dominica: This country requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 200,000 real estate investment to qualify for becoming a Citizen of Dominica. The processing time for a passport is 6 months.
Grenada: To become a citizen, you require USD 150,000 (contribution) or USD 350,000 (real estate investment). The processing time for a passport is 2 months. There are no residence requirements and no visit to Grenada required for getting citizenship.
Cyprus: EUR 2,200,000 investment in Real estate, Bonds, or in Enterprise projects is required for this country. You have to visit the country to receive citizenship and there is a new 6-month residency requirement (hold residence card) before applying for a Cypriot passport.
Turkey: Turkish citizenship buying $250,000 worth of real estate in Turkey or $500,000 enterprise investment in Turkey or $500,000 worth of Government bonds or Bank deposit.
Antigua and Barbuda: requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 200,000 (joint real estate investment) to become a Citizen under the CBI program. The passport processing time is 4 months. Antigua CIP passport is valid for 5 years before expiry. After first renewal the passport is valid for ten years.
Vanuatu: Approvals are issued within 20-30 days compared to 2-3 months taken by Caribbean countries. Vanuatu requires USD 130,000 for one person to receive citizenship and passport.
Moldova: The CBI program requires EUR 100,000 one time contribution with a processing time 3 months.
Out of all the countries having CBI program, the most prestigious and expensive are:
(a) United Kingdom: As already shown above, one requires a minimum of 2 million GBP and a maximum of 10 million GBP.
(b) Cyprus: Interestingly, it is the second most expensive at EUR 2,200,000 as already shown above.
Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and English is widely spoken on the island.
Cyprus is unique in its offering of citizenship within just 6 months of such an investment. This grants a Cypriot passport and citizenship of an EU country, allowing the freedom to work, travel, study and live anywhere within the EU including countries such as Germany, France and the UK. The investment can be reduced down after 5 years to just €500,000.
Like in all other countries an applicant should have a clean criminal record.
Luckily, there is no language requirement, medical test or interview. Very simple documents are required for the application. It is relatively easy to apply for the citizenship and there is no mandatory requirement that the applicant must stay in the country.
Qualifying family members include spouse, all children up to the age of 28 and all future generations. Parents can also qualify by making a further €500,000 investment in real estate.
(c) The United States of America: The USA is regarded by all as the land of opportunities. Majority of people would wish to acquire US citizenship. It ranks third and the applicant must be ready to invest at least USD 900,000 and will be allowed to add a spouse and children below the age of 21.
The processing time for this visa is 18 to 24 months.
A major advantage is that here is an easy eligibility criterion with minimal formalities and one can live anywhere in the US.
There are many other advantages of acquisition of USA citizenship and this makes it quite lucrative for an investor who wishes to settle.
The benefits include the right to petition for additional family members such as parents, siblings and married adult sons and daughters to become US citizens.
Additionally once you have qualified and received the second passport, you retain the right to apply for jobs in any sector. You may also chose to settle anywhere in the United States.
(d) Spain: In order to acquire a second citizenship in Spain, you will require a minimum investment of 500,000 Euros and the processing will take 2 to 3 months.
After five years it is possible to gain permanent residency and after ten years citizenship. It is not necessary to live in Spain in order to retain and renew the residency visa permit.
Although the temporary residency permit (the golden visa) can be easily renewed without living in the country, the route to both permanent residency and citizenship requires the investor and their family to reside in Spain. For this reason the Spanish Golden Visa program is popular with those applicants who either wish to reside full time in Spain or simply maintain a second residency in Europe but without a path to citizenship.
Once you acquire Spanish citizenship, you will enjoy many rights including the right to vote and move freely within any country in the European Union.
This also attaches the right to study, vote and get employment in Spain.
Meanwhile, the lowest priced three countries are:
(a) Dominica: This country requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 200,000 real estate investment as shown above.
The applicant has an advantage of including his or her children up to age 30. Applicant’s dependent parents with age above 55 years may also be included. The citizenship granted is for life and one is not mandatorily required to reside in Dominica. The processing time for this second passport is around 60-90 days.
Dominica considers applicants from any country. It is a small, fertile island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Its closest neighbors are the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante, to the north, and Martinique, to the south. It is an ideal place to settle as a second home.
(b) Antigua and Barbuda: requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 200,000 (joint real estate investment). It ranks same with Dominica due to its low processing fees.
Successful applicants can travel visa-free to over 130 countries worldwide, including the European Union, the United Kingdom (UK), Singapore, and Hong Kong.
To qualify for this citizenship, the main applicant is required to spend a minimum of 5 days on Antigua and Barbuda over a period of 5 years.
All 5 days can be spent on either of the islands at the end of the 5-year period.
Among the benefits of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, the applicant will acquire full citizenship status with minimal requirement to visit Antigua and Barbuda after citizenship is granted as long as he or she may visit at least five days within five years.
Likewise there is social and political security and a Visa-free travel to over 130 countries (including the UK and the EU).
The application process does not require an interview and English language is not mandatory.
(c) Saint Lucia: St Lucia requires USD 100,000 (contribution) or USD 300,000 (real estate investment).
This program enables dependents of the applicant to acquire Saint Lucia’s second citizenship program. Such dependents include the spouse of the principal applicant, children up to 30 years, and parents of the principal applicant above 55 years of age.
Also included are siblings of the principal applicant above 18 years of age.
The processing time is approximately five to six months.
To gain a second St Lucia passport through their investment program, the applicants are not required to reside or visit the country during the application process. Listed are some of the significant benefits of opting for the Saint Lucia citizenship by investment program:
The Saint Lucia Passport permits its holder to travel visa-free to more than 146 countries across the globe.
Meanwhile, the country does not impose any global income tax from its non-resident citizens.
For more information regarding other countries under the CBI program, their passport processing period and other detailed procedures and legal assistance, please feel free to contact the author,