Is it possible to purchase a piece of elite resort property and obtain a second passport in return? Yes, this opportunity is available both in Europe and in the Caribbean basin. Let us compare the two regions and see where you should apply for foreign citizenship.
Five countries in the Caribbean basin (Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Saint Lucia) administer citizenship-by-investment programs. These programs allow foreign nationals to obtain second passports by investing in a Government-approved development project in any of the countries. All the development projects that qualify for participation in the citizenship-by-investment programs are resort buildings, which means that you can invest in resort property in the Caribbean thus obtaining a second passport.
Montenegro in Europe also administers a similar immigration program and you can invest in resort property there and become a citizen of the country too. This opportunity will look even more attractive if you take into account the fact that Montenegro is soon going to become a member of the European Union in all likelihood. Experts expect that the country will join the EU within five years or so.
In light of the recent events in Montenegro, however, we recommend that you opt for a Caribbean country. The citizenship-by-investment programs have been running for quite a while in the region and they have earned themselves a good reputation. On the other hand, some issues have arisen in Montenegro lately that make the country a bit less attractive in terms of purchasing resort property there. You can still apply for Montenegrin citizenship by investment in real estate in the country but you have to choose the development project with great care because some developers in the country appear unreliable.
Questionable development projects in Montenegro
Montenegro launched its citizenship-by-investment program in 2019. Foreign nationals have three investment options each of which will make them qualified for the Montenegrin passport. The first option is investing in a piece of resort property such as a hotel or a condominium. The development project has to be approved by the Government of the country. The second option is investing in an agricultural enterprise and the third option is investing in the processing industry in Montenegro.
The authorities of the country started accepting applications from developers for participation in the citizenship-by-investment program in February 2019. The candidate had to commit him or herself to investing at least 15 million euros if the resort property was to be built in the capital city of Podgorica or by the seaside. One more condition was that the developer was to build at least 60 accommodation units and create at least 80 permanent jobs. If the property was built in the central and the northern regions of Montenegro, the required investment amount was 5 million euros, the number of accommodation units was at least 35, and the number of permanent jobs was at least 25. Such were the requirements that the Montenegrin Government put forward to the developers.
Fifteen development projects in total have been able to meet the requirements thus far. Fourteen of those are mixed-type development projects (condominiums that offer apartments both for sale and for rent) and only one project is a classic hotel where suites do not sell. The overall cost of the development projects taken together is about 413 million euros. Most of the buildings are erected in the north of Montenegro (in the cities of Kolasin and Žabljak) while only three resort complexes are built by the seaside. It is expected that the hotels/ condominiums will have 2.5 thousand beds and give jobs to around 1.8 thousand Montenegrins.
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The foreign investor can put money in any of the fifteen development projects mentioned above. If the resort property is located in Podgorica or on the coast, the required investment amount is 450,000 euros. If the property is located in the central or northern region, the foreign investor has to bring 250,000 euros to the country’s economy. In both cases, an additional donation of 100,000 euros is required.
As far as the alternative routes to Montenegrin citizenship are concerned, the required investment amounts are considerably higher. If you would like to invest in the agricultural sector in Montenegro, you have to bring at least 2 million euros and create at least ten jobs. If you would like to invest in the processing industry in the country, you have to bring at least 3.5 million euros and create at least twenty jobs.
Due to the higher investment amounts that the alternative routes to Montenegrin citizenship require, it is not surprising that most foreign investors applying for Montenegrin passports prefer to buy resort property in the country. At the same time, some resort complexes may prove to be high-risk investment objects, according to some recent research.
The Center for Journalistic Investigations in Montenegro has analyzed the activities of the developers erecting resort property in the country and identified four development projects that do not look trustworthy. Plainly speaking, we do not recommend that you invest in the development projects listed below when applying for the passport of Montenegro.
- Kolasin Resort & Spa (Kolasin): In March 2021, the authorities of Bangladesh pressed charges against several businesspersons including a developer who is a native of Bangladesh but he has a passport of Grenada too. This person is accused of participating in organized crime and money laundering. He is suspected of using the Kolasin Resort & Spa development projects that he owns for money laundering purposes. The total cost of the development project is 11.36 million euros and it is supposed to be complete by the end of 2021. The journalists discovered, however, that only 2.37 million euros has been invested in the construction thus far.
- Breza Hotel (Kolasin): This resort complex belongs to a developer whose property in Siena, Florence, Milan, and Rome has been arrested, according to the Italian mass media. He is accused of money laundering and tax evasion in Italy. This information became available in March 2021. According to a spokesperson of CG Resort Company, the developer of the resort complex, the charges have now been dismissed. The construction of the Breza Hotel, whose cost is about 19.5 million euros has been postponed due to the unfavorable conditions. At the moment, the construction is expected to finish by May, 2022. Seventy suites have been already sold and twenty foreigners have acquired Montenegrin citizenship by investing in this hotel.
- Kraljičina Plaža (Przno): The new Government of Montenegro that took office after the 2021 elections announced cancellation of the contract with the development company building Kraljičina Plaža. The company is suspected of financial violations. One of its founders was arrested in Las Vegas in 2014 for engaging in illegal gambling business. The person was born in Malaysia and he acquired citizenship of Montenegro in 2013. According to the US mass media, the illegal business brought around US$ 300 to the person. One more fact that needs to be taken in consideration is that another co-owner of the Kraljičina Plaža is also building the Durmitor Hotel and Villas resort complex that also participates in the Montenegrin citizenship-by-development program.
- K16 Kolašin (Kolasin): A co-owner of the development company building the resort complex is involved in a scandal in neighboring Albania. Supposedly, he illegally used the state fund money by making false contracts. Another co-owner of the same company is also building the D Hotel in Kolasin that also participates in the citizenship-by-development program.
We will be fair and admit that the suspension of the construction of some resort complexes in Montenegro is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things. However, the alarming information about the owners of some resort complexes under construction should make any foreign investor think twice before buying an apartment in one of the condominiums/ hotels listed above. Then again, there are some alternatives in the Caribbean that look much more trustworthy as they are time-tested.
Purchase resort property from a reliable developer in the Caribbean thus acquiring foreign citizenship
Several small island states in the Caribbean offer citizenship-by-investment opportunities to foreign nationals. They allow investing in resort property built by much more trustworthy and time-tested developers in comparison to the Montenegrin developers who have just started building property that qualifies for participation in the local citizenship-by-investment program.
The Caribbean programs have been available for quite some time already. Saint Kitts and Nevis in particular, has been administering a citizenship-by-investment program since the 1980s. Dominica followed suit some ten years later. Grenada, Antigua, and Saint Lucia followed their neighbors’ examples in the mid-2010s. Thus, the Caribbean immigration programs have stood the test of time.
The Caribbean programs have one more important advantage over Montenegro. When acquiring economic citizenship of one of the island states in the region, you have to invest considerably less in resort property. Below please find out what requirements each of the Caribbean states has to foreign nationals buying resort property on the island thus qualifying for second citizenship.
- Saint Kitts: If you invest US$ 200,000 in resort property in the country, you have to keep it in your possession for seven years if you want to keep your second passport. If you invest US$ 400,000, you are free to sell it back after only five years while preserving the passport of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
- Antigua: If you find a friend who also wants to invest in resort property in the country, you will have to bring US$ 200,000 each. If you want to be the sole owner of the property, you have to invest US$ 400,000. The property must remain in your possession for five years in both cases if you are to keep the passport of Antigua and Barbuda.
- Grenada: If you make a joint investment in resort property in the country with a friend, each of you will have to bring US$ 220,000 (there can be more than two investors each of them putting at least US$ 220,000 in a piece of resort property in Grenada). If you are making an individual investment, the required amount is US$ 350,000. The required possession period is five years again.
- Dominica: This country makes the most attractive offer to those foreigners who want to buy resort property there thus qualifying for citizenship of Dominica. You can invest US$ 200,000 and keep the property in your possession only for three years.
- Saint Lucia: You can ‘buy’ the passport of St Lucia if you put US$ 300,000 into resort property there and keep it for five years.
Whichever country you choose, you will have to invest in Government-approved development projects only. However, due to the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities of St Kitts are making a limited-time offer that expires on November 1, 2022. You can buy any real property (not necessarily part of a Government-approved development project) in the country if the following conditions are satisfied:
- It can be residential property only;
- The estimated cost of the property shall be not less than US$ 400,000;
- The cost of the land shall not be included in the cost of property;
- If it is a detached house/ cottage, it cannot be divided into several apartments;
- An independent assessor shall estimate the cost of the property for tax purposes and issue a certificate;
- The property shall remain in the investor’s possession for five years;
- If the property is sold to a foreign national after the period expires, the foreign national will not be eligible for citizenship of Saint Kitts and Nevis by investment.
Unique advantages of acquiring Caribbean citizenship by investing in resort property
- Personal visit and residence requirements: One of the biggest advantages of the Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programs is the lack of obligation to ever visit the countries (with one exception). You do not have to visit the Caribbean region either to file the application for citizenship (it can be done online) or to pick your passport (it will be sent to you with a courier). You do not have to turn up for any interview nor do you have to reside in any of the countries for any period. The only exception is Antigua that requires that you stay there for five days over the first five years of your citizenship of the country. Why do the Antiguan authorities put forward this requirement? Because they want you to see the country, fall in love with it, and relocate there for the rest of your life! It should be noted that Montenegro does require that foreign candidates for its citizenship visit the country at least once and submit their biometric data.
- High speed of acquiring foreign citizenship by investing in resort property: The fastest foreign citizenship by investment can be acquired in Saint Kitts. The standard application processing timeframe is three months. However, for an additional fee, you can use the accelerated application processing mechanism that will bring you the passport of St Kitts and Nevis within six to eight weeks. Other countries in the Caribbean process applications for citizenship within three months as a rule. The immigration authorities in Montenegro will take between three and six months to process your application for citizenship of the country.
- Reliable developers: The authorities of the Caribbean states mentioned above inspect the proposed development projects with great care before approving them. Only the most reliable development companies end up signing contracts with the national Governments. The good reputation of the Caribbean developers makes investments in the report property that they build safe. The rules for exiting (reselling your property in the Caribbean) are extremely transparent whichever country you consider. Please apply for a consultation with an InternationalWealth expert to minimize the investment risks.
- Family applications for Caribbean citizenship: When applying for citizenship in the Caribbean, you are welcome to add your relatives to the application and all of them will be issued passports of the Caribbean state whose citizenship you are seeking. You can add your spouse, your children, your parents, and in some cases your grandparents, brothers, and sisters to a family application for Caribbean citizenship. As far as Montenegro is concerned, only the spouse and the children of the main applicant are eligible for citizenship of the country.
- Low taxes: The Caribbean states levy no taxes on wealth, capital gains, inherited property, nor gifts. Two of the five countries mentioned above also exempt their tax residents from the taxes on their global incomes. In Montenegro, the personal income tax rate starts at 9% while fiscal residents of the country are taxable on their global incomes. Non-residents (for tax purposes) pay taxes only on the income obtained on the territory of Montenegro.
- The possibility to relocate to the USA and visa-free access to China: If you purchase resort property in Grenada and obtain citizenship of the country, you will become eligible for a non-immigration E2 visa to the USA. This visa will make your extended stays in the United States legal while it does not make you a tax resident in the USA. (Unlike the green card: when you obtain one, you automatically become taxable in the States.) This visa is available only to the citizenship of those states that have signed a special agreement with the USA, which Grenada has. In addition to that, citizens of Grenada do not need to obtain visas if they want to visit China. Citizenship of Montenegro, in its turn, will also make you eligible for an E2 visa but it will not give you visa-free entry to China.
Expert support to those seeking to acquire foreign citizenship by investing in resort property
If you would like to save your time, money, and nervous cells when selecting the country where you want to buy resort property thus qualifying for foreign citizenship, you are welcome to apply for our assistance in the matter right now!
InternationalWealth is a leading internet portal specializing in investment immigration. Our experts have vast experience in the field of investment immigration and we have already helped a great number of wealthy individuals from different countries of the world to obtain second passports. Our main priorities are an individual approach to every client and high ethical standards in servicing those who request our assistance.
Please apply for a personal consultation on acquiring foreign citizenship by investing into resort property! You can write to our email address, use a messenger, or drop us a line in the live chat (see top of the page for Contact us icon).
We will inquire about your main objectives in seeking foreign citizenship and find out how much you are prepared to spend on the second passport. When we have this information, we will recommend several options to you and you will be able to choose which one suits you best. Even though you do not have to travel to the Caribbean to acquire citizenship there, visiting paradise islands might be a good idea anyway! We will be happy to put you through to our partners in the region and they will do their best to make your stay on the islands unforgettable.
Apart from English, we speak several other languages and we will be delighted to assist you in acquiring foreign citizenship by investing in resort property whatever country you come from!
What countries offer their citizenship to foreign investors?
There are several countries that run citizenship-by-investment programs. Probably, the first option that you should consider is acquiring citizenship in the Caribbean basin. Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, and Grenada ‘sell’ their passports to foreign investors. If you are interested in acquiring citizenship of a European country, you can consider Montenegro. If you invest in a Government-approved development project in the country, you will become eligible for full citizenship there.
Are there any alternatives to the Caribbean states in Montenegro if I want to acquire foreign citizenship by investing in resort property?
Turkey is one more country where you can buy real property thus qualifying for citizenship by investment. The country does not limit foreign investors to Government-approved projects: you can buy any piece of real estate there to qualify for citizenship (with the exception of the real property in some strategic locations). You have to buy one or several pieces of property in Turkey whose total worth is not less than US$ 250,000 and this will make you eligible to apply for citizenship of the country. You can resell your Turkish property after three years while keeping the Turkish passport.
How much do I have to invest in resort property to qualify for foreign citizenship?
The required investment amounts vary from one country to another. In Montenegro, for example, you have to invest at least 350,000 euros while in some Caribbean countries you have to invest from US$ 200,000 to qualify for citizenship by investment. You have to bear in mind, however, that additional costs will be involved in acquiring foreign citizenship in any case. These are the state duties, the administrative fees, the passport issuance fees, and the immigration agent fees. Please contact us to find out the ultimate cost of acquiring foreign citizenship in any country that administers a citizenship-by-investment program!