Why You Should Apply for an Active Investor Visa and How You Can Do It

A growing number of countries are revoking their citizenship-by-investment and residence-by-investment programs. We are speaking about the programs that allow obtaining legal residence in, or citizenship of, a foreign country in exchange for a passive investment such as purchase of a house, for example. At the same time, Governments of most countries welcome active investors who are prepared to spend extended periods of time in a foreign country on a long-term visa. An active investor visa is the immigration opportunity that we are discussing below.

The choice of citizenship-by-investment programs is becoming narrower. The ‘golden passport’ programs that used to be administered by Moldova, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Montenegro became unavailable in 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023, correspondingly. Under pressure from Brussels. The investor visa to Great Britain ceased to be available in 2022, and an analogous visa to Ireland became inaccessible a year after. Now the Portuguese immigration authorities have announced their plans to cancel their ‘golden visa’ program too.

Active investor visa

The investment immigration market has been suffering from one blow after another. The European Commission is the primary body that is lobbying for the cancellation of national citizenship/ residence-by-investment programs. The Commission seems persistent in the endeavor. Immigration to foreign countries via passive investments is becoming rather problematic. With the ongoing political changes, thousands of people who have been considering changing their place of residence or acquiring second citizenship are now scratching their heads in bewilderment. The consulting firms engaged in providing services to immigrants also have to adapt to the new reality.

The good news is that applying for an active investor visa is an alternative way of acquiring residence in a foreign country. The bad news is that becoming a citizen of a foreign country is going to take much more time if you choose the active investor visa route. What is more, an active investor visa holder has to be… an active investor! That means that you have to work on your investment project in a foreign country if you are to keep your active investor visa. In other words, you have to start a new company or buy an existing business venture in a foreign country (and keep it going) if you want to qualify for legal residence there.

This also means that you have to physically reside in the foreign country of your choice and manage your business company stationed there. An active investor visa acts as a temporary residence permit that can turn into a permanent residence permit with time. Living in a foreign country on a permanent residence permit, the active investor visa holder can qualify for citizenship of the country by naturalization after several years.

The prerequisites for acquiring an active investor visa may look rather tough but it may well be worth it in the long run. It is true that acquiring citizenship of a foreign country is going to take a longer time if you acquire an active investor visa but on the other hand, the amount of investment that you will have to make is going to be much smaller than the amount required for buying a piece of real property, for instance. Please seek professional advice to develop an understanding of how the active investor visa mechanism works. If you apply this mechanism in a wise way, it may become a cornerstone of your future international business empire.

Target audience of active investor visa programs

If you don’t really want to live in a foreign country and you are looking to acquire second citizenship for the sake of enhancing your freedom of movement, for example, the active investor visa opportunity is not for you. An active investor visa requires relocating to a foreign country and living there on a permanent basis. We would like to stress that active investor visa programs are not for everybody. Who may be interested in applying for an active investor visa?

Active investor visas for ambitious entrepreneurs at the beginning of their carriers

If you are only starting to build your business empire, acquiring an active investor visa may be an opportunity of interest to you. It can let you build a business platform in a different part of the world and start ‘playing for high stakes’. An active investor visa will legalize your prolonged stay in a foreign country that may be offering better business opportunities than those found in your country of origin.  

Indeed, no matter how rich a particular country is, it always welcomes foreign talents and foreign capitals. Many countries offer substantial benefits to those immigrants who create new jobs, who contribute to the overall economic growth, who invest in innovative areas, and so on.

The good thing is that the choice of active investor visa programs is much wider than the choice of citizenship by (passive) investment opportunities. Admittedly, you will have to do serious research work before you can choose the active investment visa opportunity that appeals to you, but the goal remains achievable anyway. Probably with only a few exceptions, every country on the globe will have mechanisms of attracting talented people from abroad. You will find certain incentives for foreign entrepreneurs wherever you look. The incentives are going to be more or less substantial and it’s up to you which active investor visa programs you want to choose. 

Active investor visas for family businesses

Acquiring an active investor visa may also be of interest for family business owners. If you have a family company that prospers, you may want to expand your business operations to a foreign country by setting up a branch of your company there. You have to be aware that not all countries provide for such an opportunity but some of them do.

You should also realize that several members of your family can relocate to a foreign country on active investor visas even if you set up a single corporate entity abroad. That is to say, the establishment of one company in a foreign country can make several people qualified for active investor visas.

This opportunity is available in the Netherlands, for example. You can acquire an active investor visa to the country if you set up a subsidiary of your family company there. When you do, you will become eligible to invite other company co-owners. Your relatives will also get active investor visas as highly qualified foreign specialists who are indispensable for managing your Netherlands-based subsidiary. 

An E2 business visa to the USA can also be referred to as an active investor visa. The same rules apply in the USA as in the Netherlands: starting one company in the States can make several foreigners qualified for active investor visas. What is more, each company employee/ co-owner can bring his/ her core family members (spouses and children) to the USA even if they are not company employees.

Active investor visa: a less expensive instrument for acquiring legal residence in a foreign country

How much does it cost to acquire citizenship of a foreign country by investment? The lowest prices are found in the Caribbean. Some countries in the region will issue a passport to you if you make a non-returnable donation of US$ 100,000 to the state fund. If you would like to make a returnable investment (buy some property or securities, for instance), the required investment amount is going to be at least twice as high.

Speaking about the European residence-by-investment programs, the Portuguese and the Greek ‘golden visa’ programs are still available and the golden visa can eventually turn into a passport. However, you will have to invest a few hundred thousand euros in order to qualify for legal residence in Greece or Portugal.

How much do you have to invest to qualify for an active investor visa to a foreign country? Prices differ, and we will give you only one example that will let you see how much you’d have to invest on average to obtain an active investor visa. There is an immigration instrument called ‘UK Innovator Visa’. This sort of active investor visa will make you qualified for legal residence in Great Britain on the condition that you start an innovative company in the country. Please bear in mind that a UK Innovator Visa holder has no right to work for any other company in Great Britain but his/ her own. However, the required investment amount is only 50,000 pounds.

We also have to note that in some countries, you are not required to invest your own money when starting a business company. There are business angels and venture capitalists that can subsidize you if you are able to convince them that your business project is worthwhile and their investments are going to return. The immigration authorities of the country issuing the active investor visa will have only one concern: the capital that you bring must come from transparent legal sources.

What countries issue active investor visas?

The choice of immigration opportunities rarely remains the same for a long time: some programs become obsolete and some new opportunities arise. Currently, we are witnessing great changes in the immigration market. The tendency in Europe is quite clear: golden visa and citizenship-by-investment programs are growing smaller in number.

Besides, you never know what may happen! Suppose that large oil deposits are discovered in the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean countries will stop ‘selling’ their passports to foreigners because the oil mining industry is going to earn them enough money to live carefree lives.

Thus, you should not procrastinate and put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Chances are that people are soon going to queue for active investor visas. Luckily, you have a great choice of countries that will be happy to issue an active investor visa to you if you are able to meet the requirements. Some of the most interesting options include the following ones:

  • Startup visa to Canada;
  • The French Passeport Talent program;
  • Visas for the self-employed to Germany;
  • Business visa to Panama;
  • D2 (active investor) visa to Portugal;
  • A residence permit in San Marino for economically active foreigners;
  • Business visa to Singapore;
  • Startup/ Innovator visa to the UK;
  • E2 visa to the USA.

Regardless of which option you choose, you will have to draw up a business plan that needs to be adapted to the preferences of the immigration authorities in the host country. In all likelihood, you will not be able to get away with just a standard business plan: you have to make some unique business proposals.

What important characteristics should your business plan possess? Your business ideas have to be viable and valuable and your prospective business has to be sustainable. When applying for a business subsidy, you would stress the expected profitability of you prospective business venture. However, this is not what you should do when applying for an active investor visa. You should stress the benefits that the economy of the host country will gain when you start your company there. Applicants for active investor visas often emphasize that their prospective companies would make the following contributions to the host country’s economy:

  • Promote export of goods and services;
  • Create new jobs;
  • Engage in active R&D;
  • Attract talented/ skilled professionals;
  • Establish partner relations with existing companies;
  • Serve lesser-developed regions of the country;
  • Implement innovative projects.

Any national government is interested in decreasing the level of unemployment, eliminating trade deficit, attracting qualified specialists from foreign countries, and developing top-priority sectors of the economy. You have to bear these preferences in mind when developing a business plan with an intention to apply for an active investor visa.

Find a reliable immigration agent when applying for an active investor visa

If you want to obtain an active investor visa, you have to use professional assistance in the matter. Finding a qualified immigration agent can be a challenging task. Many immigration agents are more knowledgeable about citizenship-by-investment and golden visa programs rather than active investor visa programs.

However, the immigration services market is undergoing serious changes. This is happening mainly for political reasons, as we have noted above. The changes make the immigration agents adapt to the new requirements. Forward-thinking and flexible agents have a competitive advantage because they learn about new active investor visa programs in a faster way. This is the type of immigration agent that you have to find if you would like to apply for an active investor visa.

A knowledgeable immigration agent will offer you a wide choice of opportunities to buy an existing business company in a foreign country instead of establishing a new one. This way of acquiring an active investor visa boasts obvious advantages. The business setup process can be long and demanding while an existing company will already have the infrastructure and probably business connections as well.

Besides, you should look for an immigration agent who offers complex services to business immigrants applying for active investor visas. In addition to starting or buying a company in a foreign country, the agent can help you find office space, sign you up for business incubator programs, find qualified personnel for your company in the foreign country, and even provide marketing services to you.

Thus, when applying for an active investor visa, you should find an immigration agent who has been providing this kind of services for a long time and who has experience with active investor visa programs. Such an agent will have the required expertise and a set of well-tried-out procedures of providing assistance to applicants for active investor visas. A good immigration agent will have already identified all the ‘bottlenecks’ and eliminated them.

Expert assistance in choosing an active investor visa program and applying for a visa

We would like to stress this fact once again: every country wants active talented entrepreneurs. Doors are open for active investors from abroad. All you have to do is draw up a creative business plan and invest a modest amount of money.

International Wealth experts have been assisting active investors in applying for visas for a number of years already. We will be happy to help you choose the preferable active investor visa program and consult you on all the issues involved in relocating to a foreign country. With our professional assistance, your chances of obtaining an active investor visa will be great!

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