You will be unable to obtain dual citizenship if you do not have a clean criminal record!
- Citizenship by investment in Grenada
- Citizenship by investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Citizenship by investment in Dominica
- Citizenship by investment in Saint Lucia
- Citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda
- Citizenship by investment in Vanuatu
- Citizenship by investment in Cyprus
- Citizenship by investment in Malta
- Citizenship by investment in Turkey
- Citizenship by investment in Jordan
- Citizenship by investment in Montenegro
- Foreign citizenship by investment: some conclusions
Are you planning to acquire foreign citizenship and a second passport in 2020? Several countries in the world grant citizenship to foreigners who are prepared to make investments into their economies. But which option is better: to become a citizen of a Caribbean country or an EU country? Or maybe you are looking in other directions too? We are here to help you find the optimal path to foreign citizenship by investment on the basis of your personal preferences and financial opportunities.
In this article, we list all the national investment programs that allow acquiring a second passport. Neither of the countries that run such programs require that the program participant should renounce his or her current citizenship. Moreover, the authorities of these countries do not inform your home country’s officials about your obtaining a foreign passport.
Immigration via investment is becoming a highly popular practice. International business people and VIP travelers hate queueing for visas and having to wait weeks and months before the visa is stamped in their passports. Thus, they ‘purchase’ foreign passports that enhance their freedom of movement.
However, citizenship of a foreign state does not only allow travelling freely around the globe. It can help you overcome the limitations imposed on you by your home country citizenship. It opens new perspectives for doing business, acquiring education, and building the career.
Besides, it facilitates opening foreign bank accounts, making investments in different countries, and it helps plan your taxes and protect your assets. What is more, foreign citizenship increases the level of your personal security and the security of your loved ones.
Depending on the country, acquiring foreign citizenship by investment can take between six weeks and twelve months. In the Caribbean, the price of the passport starts at US$ 100,000, which does not look like an extravagant sum of money. Moreover, the Caribbean countries are beginning to make more and more attractive offers, as they have to compete for the investor.
There is a way to become a citizen of a foreign country that may look less expensive: you can acquire foreign citizenship via naturalization. But first, you will have to obtain a permanent residence permit, which can be problematic and second, you will have to live in the country for years and years before you are ‘naturalized’ and issued a passport.
The citizenship-by-investment opportunities are quite diverse but they are limited anyway. Five countries in the Caribbean basin run citizenship-by-investment programs, three countries in Europe, two countries in Asia, and one in the Pacific. Which one should you choose? It all depends upon your personal preferences and desires as well as the amount of money that you are prepared to invest into acquiring foreign citizenship.
There is one more factor that makes the choice even more difficult. All the countries that attract foreign direct investments by selling their passports adjust their national programs on a regular basis, as each of them has to remain competitive. They lower the prices, shorten the terms of citizenship acquisition, simplify the requirements to the application document sets, enlarge the list of countries that their citizens can enter without a visa, and so on. Some offers will look attractive to perpetual travelers while others will appeal to those wishing to relocate to a different part of the world, build a house, and engage into business there.
We aim to make the choice of the country whose passport you want to buy easier for you. Thus, below we provide the most important information about each of the citizenship-by-investment programs that are currently available in the world. By reading this article, you can develop an understanding of the opportunities that you can choose from.
Foreign citizenship by investment: avoiding traps and pitfalls
Before we go on to discuss national citizenship-by-investment programs, we have to issue a couple of warnings. Because the sale of national passports is a rather profitable business, fraudsters try to get a piece of the pie as should be expected. This is the first danger to look out for.
Secondly, even if you manage to avoid falling into fraudsters’ traps, you may still opt for the wrong path to foreign citizenship. Some countries such as Bulgaria, for instance, will offer European citizenship to foreign investors that can be acquired quite legally. The matter is that Bulgaria and a few other countries in Europe offer legal residence in exchange for investment, which is not equivalent to full citizenship of the country.
Thus, you have to make sure that the country that you are considering really offers a full-fledged citizenship-by-investment scheme. Such a scheme must meet the following criteria:
- First, the process of acquiring foreign citizenship should be relatively fast. As a rule, it lasts for a couple of months only. Malta is an exception, however, as acquiring its citizenship takes twelve months or even a bit more.
- Second, the scheme has to be commoditized. This means that any person who has enough money at his or her disposal and a clean criminal record should be able to apply for foreign citizenship by investment. A crooked or a poorly informed immigration agent may advertise Austria, for example, as a country where you can acquire foreign citizenship. In reality, however, Austrian citizenship can be granted to a foreigner only for some ‘outstanding achievements’. This is a blurred notion without any doubt and what is more, the opportunity to obtain Austrian citizenship heavily depends on the political relations between Austria and the applicant’s home country. If these relations are tense, any achievement can be deemed not outstanding enough and thus any application from a citizen of an ‘unfriendly’ country is likely to be rejected.
- Third, the national citizenship-by-investment program has to be well structured and governed by the corresponding legislation. This means that there has to be a national law that regulates the functioning of such a program and the path to citizenship should be very clear. Citizenship-by-investment programs are run in the same way as a business venture is run. Any jurisdiction that offers an opaque way to its citizenship should fall outside the scope of your interests.
Now let us compare the national citizenship-by-investment programs.
Citizenship by investment in Grenada
Grenada launched its citizenship-by-investment program in the early 2000s, then it was suspended for a few years but now it is functional again and Grenada is a very serious player in the market.
The Caribbean basin countries allow acquiring foreign citizenship in the fastest, simplest, and most economical way. Grenada stands out due to its spotless reputation, attractive investment options, and some other features.
All Caribbean passports give visa-free access to the EU and Schengen zone countries but the Grenadian passport also allows entering China and Russia without visas. Besides, Grenada is the only country among those granting citizenship to foreigners that makes it possible to acquire an E-2 investor visa to the United States of America.
You can become a citizen of Grenada by making a non-returnable donation of US$ 150,000 if you are a single applicant or of US$ 200,000 if you are applying for Grenadian citizenship with your spouse. You can also purchase a piece of Government-approved real estate that you will be entitled to sell after a few years while retaining the Grenadian passport. The minimum required amount of investment into real estate in Grenada is US$ 220,000. There are several Government-approved development projects on the island that you can choose from.
The verdict: Grenada is worth the money. Especially if you need a passport that allows making frequent visa-free visits to China, Russia, and the USA.
Citizenship by investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis
Within the frameworks of a limited-time offer, the required donation amount for a family of four has been reduced from US$ 195,000 to US$ 150,000 (a 23% or a US$ 45,000 reduction). The offer is in force only until the end of 2020! The state duties, the due diligence fees, and the immigration agent’s charges remain the same.
St Kitts and Nevis was the first country in history to launch a national citizenship-by-investment program back in 1984. Other Caribbean states that now offer citizenship-by-investment opportunities have simply copied the St Kitts and Nevis program while making small amendments to it. At the moment, this country allows acquiring foreign citizenship in the fastest way.
The requirements to foreign nationals wishing to become citizens of St Kitts and Nevis have always been quite clear: you can make a donation that cannot be recovered or you can invest into Government-approved real property in the country. If you decide to make a donation, you will not have to choose from multiple pieces of real property that you can invest in. On the other hand, the property can be resold after a few years and the passport of St Kitts and Nevis will stay with you.
Until recently, the required donation amount was US$ 250,000. Then several severe hurricanes hit the island and the Government introduced a temporary reduction of the donation amount in an attempt to attract more foreign capital needed for restoration work and eventually the temporary reduction turned into a permanent one. Now it costs US$ 150,000 to acquire citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis via a donation to the national Sustainable Growth Fund. The amount of the minimum required investment into real property has also been lowered and now it constitutes US$ 200,000.
St Kitts and Nevis offers many advantages that should make this jurisdiction attractive. The authorities of the country have introduced an accelerated application procedure that allows acquiring the passport of St Kitts and Nevis within 45 days only (for an additional pay, of course). Besides, St Kitts and Nevis levies zero tax on personal income regardless of where the income comes from.
The verdict: There were times when St Kitts and Nevis was the only country in the world that sold its passports to foreigners. The emergence of several competitors did not affect the popularity of the national citizenship-by-investment program so much as the cancellation of the visa-free travel arrangements with Canada did in 2014. The price wars between the countries offering citizenship by investment have made the Government of St Kitts and Nevis ‘optimize’ the required donation and investment amounts but the program still looks a bit overpriced. At the same time, if you would like to acquire a foreign passport fast and without any trouble, spending some extra money on that can be reasonable.
NEVIS - BEST OFFERS
Citizenship by investment in Dominica
Over the last few years, the value of the Dominican passport has increased significantly. What makes it especially attractive is the affordable price.
After the Comoros terminated its citizenship-by-investment program that required a donation of US$ 70,000, Dominica became the cheapest country where you can buy foreign citizenship. The minimum required donation amount is US$ 100,000 there.
Only St Lucia and Antigua offer as inexpensive citizenship-by-investment opportunities as Dominica does while all other countries in the world charge more. However, Dominican citizenship-by-investment program has been running for a longer period, since the 1990s. As far as the list of countries that citizens of Dominica can enter without visas is concerned, it is very much the same as the St Kitts and Nevis list but it does not contain the Russian Federation.
Previously, citizenship of Dominica was not accessible to everybody. The authorities would not accept applications from the citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somali, Sudan, and Yemen. Recently, however, the Government policies have changed and now applications for Dominican citizenship can be filed by citizens of any country. At the same time, some applicants will have to undergo especially diligent security checks.
The verdict: Dominica is certainly worth considering especially if you are after the least expensive foreign citizenship.
Citizenship by investment in Saint Lucia
In the frameworks of a limited-time offer, you can acquire citizenship of St Lucia by investing into Government bonds at a 50% discount. The offer will remain in effect until the end of 2020.
The St Lucian citizenship-by-investment program has been criticized recently and for some good reasons. It does not mean, however, that this program does not deserve your attention. The country has some interesting offers to make including attractive tax incentives.
The St Lucian citizenship-by-investment program is the newest one in the region. Originally, the requirements to foreigners wishing to become citizens of St Lucia were rather tough. The authorities required that the net worth of the applicant should be not less than three million dollars and the yearly quota for the applications was set at five hundred. However, the islanders gave up the overly tough requirements in 2017. Besides, they have lowered the required donation amount to US$ 100,000, which is as much as Dominica charges.
St Lucian Government also allows investing into approved real property in the country, buying securities, or investing into a business project. You can invest US$ 500,000 (twice as little until the end of 2020) into Government bonds and hold them in your possession for five years thus obtaining the passport of St Lucia. These are zero interest bonds but there is a buyback guarantee. You can also invest minimum US$ 300,000 into real estate in order to become a citizen of St Lucia. In case you decide to invest into a business venture in the country, you will have to bring at least 3.5 million dollars and create minimum three new jobs. In addition, St Lucia imposes lesser additional charges on family applicants in comparison to other countries.
The verdict: Now when the minimum required donation amount has been reduced to US$ 100,000, the country has become a viable option for anyone who wants to acquire a foreign passport at the most affordable price and use it to travel freely all around the globe, open bank accounts, buy foreign property, and economize on taxes.
Saint Lucia - BEST OFFERS
Citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda launched its citizenship-by-investment program in 2012. It is the only country that requires that new citizens should spend five days on the islands during the first five years of holding the passports. This is not an extravagant requirement as the country is beautiful indeed and you could celebrate acquiring its passport by spending your vacation on the islands. Nevertheless, it is an additional requirement to meet, which can make this option a bit less attractive.
The investment options are as follows: a non-returnable donation of US$ 100,000, a returnable investment of US$ 200,000 into real estate, or a returnable investment of US$ 1,500,000 into business in the country. There is an interesting joint investment opportunity, however. You can put only US$ 400,000 into a business project if you become part of a group of investors who are prepared to make a joint investment of US$ 5,000,000 into this project.
Some time ago, Antigua and Barbuda took part in the price war in the Caribbean region and lowered the required donation amount to match Dominica and St Lucia.
There is a unique opportunity to be found in Antigua and Barbuda alone, however. A family application entails additional charges in any country where you might want to apply for foreign citizenship. But the application for a family of four members costs only a little more in Antigua and Barbuda than an individual application. This makes this option most attractive for investors seeking to acquire foreign passports for the whole family.
The verdict: Antigua and Barbuda is an interesting economical option with several investment opportunities. A big plus of the country is the absence of the personal income tax. The attractiveness of the national citizenship-by-investment program decreased when Antigua lost visa-free arrangements with Canada but choosing this country for your second citizenship will be warranted if you would like to obtain foreign passports for all members of your family at a low price.
Citizenship by investment in Vanuatu
We must also bring to your attention the citizenship-by-investment program run by the Pacific state of Vanuatu. The local scheme is unique by the possibility to acquire a foreign passport by investing a cryptocurrency in it.
Vanuatu offers foreign applicants for its citizenship the only option: a non-returnable donation to the state fund. The total cost of acquiring Vanuatu citizenship is a little less than US$ 150,000. The timeframe of citizenship acquisition is about two months.
The passport of Vanuatu gives visa-free access to the EU countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Russian Federation. Another advantage that the country has is low taxes.
Many experts note that a serious disadvantage that Vanuatu has is the constantly changing rules of citizenship acquisition and unclear immigration policies.
The verdict: Vanuatu should be appealing to those who have large sums in Bitcoins at their disposal. The local citizenship-by-investment boasts short terms of application processing. At the same time, more bureaucracy is involved in acquiring citizenship of Vanuatu in comparison to the Caribbean basin states and more documents are required to apply. Besides, Vanuatu is a remote state and it is not the best place on the planet to live as natural disasters hit the islands rather often.
Now let us leave the exotic Caribbean basin as well as the faraway Pacific Ocean and move to Europe where some citizenship-by-investment opportunities can also be found.
Citizenship by investment in Cyprus
Since recently, foreign nationals can become citizens of an EU member state. Cyprus is interested in attracting foreign direct investments and creating more employment opportunities for its residents. The Cypriot citizenship-by-investment program is the most expensive such program. The application processing timeframe is six to nine month. Nevertheless, the demand for citizenship of Cyprus is growing.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union and thus its passport allows travelling all around the continent without visas. At the same time, it has not signed the Schengen agreement.
You can become a citizen of Cyprus by investing from two million euros into real estate on the island, state bonds, a business company, or putting the money in a Cypriot bank. This sum includes the mandatory donation of 150,000 EUR.
Apart from the donation, all other investments are returnable. Thus, if you are a spirited businessperson, the citizenship-by-investment opportunity that Cyprus offers should be of interest to you. The only alternative that allows acquiring EU citizenship is Malta but the required donation amount in that country is considerably higher.
There is a requirement, however, that puts some foreign investors off Cyprus. In order to retain citizenship of the country you have to buy and keep residential accommodations on the island that are worth at least 500,000 EUR. We assume that the authorities of the country put forward such a requirement to make new citizens establish ‘economic ties’ with Cyprus, which is more than simply ‘buying’ the passport. You cannot sell your house or apartment on the island if you want to remain a citizen of the country.
Over the recent years, some cities in Cyprus have been rapidly growing. Limassol, for example, currently has more skyscrapers than any other seaside city in Europe. This is one of the results of the popularity of the local citizenship-by-investment program.
The verdict: Cyprus offers an opportunity to acquire a European passport in exchange for investment. However, the country is not part of the Schengen zone and its passport does not allow travelling to the USA without a visa unlike the Maltese passport. In addition, the obligation to own a 500,000 EUR worth real property is a cloud that can eclipse the sun. Besides, you have to be cautious when choosing what property to buy in Cyprus as foreigners will often be overcharged in the country. This option will suit you if you would like to start a business company in a European offshore jurisdiction with low taxes and/ or buy a luxury villa on the seacoast.
Citizenship by investment in Malta
You can acquire the passport of Malta if you are prepared to invest around a million euros in it and wait for about a year. Even though the procedure of acquiring Maltese citizenship is extended in time, the local citizenship-by-investment program looks more attractive to many foreign investors than the alternative program run by Cyprus.
The Maltese citizenship-by-investment program allows obtaining the passport that gives visa-free access to all European countries including the Schengen zone and it also gives visa-free access to all large English-speaking countries including the USA, Canada, and Australia. No other citizenship-by-investment program in the world provides for such opportunities.
In comparison to Cyprus, the required donation amount is much higher in Malta. You have to donate 650,000 EUR to the state fund plus you have to invest 150,000 into Maltese state bonds or shares of a Maltese-based company and hold them in your possession for five years. Finally, you have to buy a house or an apartment in the country that is worth at least 350,000 EUR and keep it for five years. Alternatively, you can sign a five-year rental agreement on the condition that the rent comes up to at least 16,000 EUR per year.
The verdict: If you can afford giving away 650,000 EUR, the Maltese citizenship-by-investment program would be the best choice. The country offers the passport that is superior to all other foreign passports that you can buy for money. Besides, the Maltese real estate is constantly growing in value just like anywhere else in Western Europe.
Malta - BEST OFFERS
Citizenship by investment in Turkey
When the Turkish citizenship-by-investment program was launched, the opportunity was overpriced. However, the authorities of the country have reconsidered their pricing policies and now the program looks much more attractive.
Turkey started its citizenship-by-investment program in January 2017 soon after the Turkish lira rate had become the lowest in history in relation to the US dollar. A series of terrorist attacks had also caused the real estate prices in Istanbul to fall drastically.
In an attempt to restore the national economy, the Turkish Government made an offer to foreign investors to ‘buy’ the passports of Turkey. But this offer was made to millionaires only as the minimum required investment amount was one million US dollars. This price tag disallowed the Turkish citizenship-by-investment program to become a bestseller. The situation changed in 2018, however, when the prices were cut by 75%.
The offer that is currently in force in Turkey is quite simple: you have to put US$ 250,000 into real estate in the country in order to become its citizen. The required ownership period is three years. This means that you have to keep the property in your possession over the specified period if you want to retain citizenship of Turkey.
Besides, you can invest US$ 500,000 into a business company in the country, into state bonds, or deposit the money into a Turkish bank. In addition to that, you will qualify for Turkish citizenship if you create fifty new jobs in the country. In each case, the investment term is three years.
Originally, the Turkish citizenship-by-investment program was targeted at residents of Arabic countries wishing to find a new home in an Islamic country. With the price cuts mentioned above, the program may look attractive for people from other parts of the world as well.
The verdict: Similarly to the Cypriot program, the Turkish economic citizenship program is attractive by the opportunity to return your investments and even make a profit. The Turkish passport can be a nice addition to your collection of foreign passports.
Citizenship by investment in Jordan
In February 2018, Jordan joined the group of countries that offer their citizenship to foreigners in exchange for investments. Acquiring citizenship of Jordan will cost you minimum one million US dollars.
Following the example set by the Turks, Jordanians lowered the prices that they had initially set. Since October 2019, the following opportunities are available. You can make a US$ 1,000,000 three-year zero-interest deposit in the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ). You can also spend the same amount of money on buying Government bonds. The bonds will have to remain in your possession for three years and the CBJ will determine the interest rate.
You can also buy shares of a private Jordanian-based company worth a million US dollars. If it is a small business company, the required investment amount is US$ 750,000. You can also start a new company in Jordan in order to acquire citizenship of the country. If the company is located in the capital city of Amman, the required investment amount is US$1,500,000 and if it is located anywhere else in the country, US$ 1,000,000 will suffice. In addition to that, your company shall create twenty new jobs in Jordan. In all cases, the property that you invest in shall remain in your possession for at least three years if you want to keep the Jordanian citizenship.
The verdict: Notwithstanding the substantial required investment amount, the Jordanian citizenship-by-investment program proves quite popular. Investors who mostly come from the neighboring Muslim states are attracted by the wide choice of investment options and by the high speed of application processing (acquiring citizenship of Jordan takes only a couple of months). Thus, there is now a peer competitor to Turkey and it is expected that the Jordanian national citizenship-by-investment program is going to grow in popularity.
Citizenship by investment in Montenegro
In October 2019, one more citizenship-by-investment program was launched in Europe. We are talking about Montenegro, an official candidate for EU membership. Foreign investors can obtain citizenship of the country by investing 250,000 EUR into real estate outside the capital city Podgorica or 350,000 EUR in Podgorica. In addition to that, a 100,000 EUR donation to the development fund has to be made.
Another option that you have is the opportunity to invest into the agricultural sector of the economy in Montenegro thus qualifying for citizenship of the country. In the case, the required investment amount is 2,000,000 EUR and ten new jobs have to be created.
Besides, you can obtain the Montenegrin passport if you invest into wood processing or fishery (which includes fish and other seafood processing). The required investment amounts are 4 and 3.5 million euros, correspondingly, and twenty new jobs have to be created in each case.
The verdict: Time will show if the Montenegrin citizenship-by-investment program is successful. We believe that it has good chances to turn into an attractive and reputable program one day.
Foreign citizenship by investment: some conclusions
Why do national citizenship-by-investment programs appear one after another? Because the demand for second passports is growing. The recent events in the world show that you can never be too cautious. Emergencies can happen in any country and if you have a spare passport (or two) to fall back on, you are going to feel much safer.
Dual citizenship opens up numerous new perspectives. You can use your foreign passport to travel, to buy property in different countries, to open accounts in foreign banks, or to relocate to the country whose passport you have purchased.
We have listed all viable opportunities to obtain foreign citizenship by investment above. Which country should you choose? Evidently, every one of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Caribbean states offer the most affordable citizenship by investment opportunities while Malta’s passport is simply superb for traveling around the globe. You have to define the priorities and choose the country of second citizenship that suits your goals better than others do.
Offshore Pro Group will be delighted to assist you in making the best choice and in acquiring citizenship of any of the countries listed above. Please apply for a consultation on the matter by writing to email@example.com and we will get back to you promptly.
Where can I acquire second citizenship in the fastest way?
The fastest citizenship by investment is granted by St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean and Vanuatu in the Pacific. In both countries, the application processing takes six to nine weeks. Besides, both countries levy zero personal income tax on their tax residents regardless of the geographical location of the sources of income.
Where can I acquire the cheapest foreign citizenship by investment?
Three countries in the Caribbean basin offer the least expensive citizenship by investment to foreign nationals. These are Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, and Dominica. The minimum required donation amount is US$ 100,000 in each of these countries.
Where can I acquire second citizenship in the simplest way?
Some countries do not require that foreign applicants for their citizenship pay personal visits either when filing the application or when obtaining the passport. Besides, they do not require that candidates for their citizenship should pass any language or history tests. The following countries provide for these opportunities: Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Vanuatu.