In 1984, Saint Kitts and Nevis stared the first national citizenship-by-investment program and a few other Caribbean states later followed suit. Currently, five countries in the region offer their citizenship to foreigners for money. Their citizenship-by-investment programs help attract foreign direct investments into national economies.
European citizenship-by-investment programs have also been developed on the Caribbean model. Thus, the essence of any national program remains the same all over the world: the foreigner brings an investment and obtains a second passport in exchange. In addition to the passport, the new citizen acquires all the freedoms and obligations that the native-born citizens of the country enjoy.
How to acquire foreign citizenship for money
Theoretically, you can become a citizen of a foreign country via naturalization. If you leave the country of your birth, relocate to another national state, and live there for a long time (for many years), you can apply for the passport of the country that has become your new home country. Acquiring foreign citizenship by investment is different in that you have to spend money on obtaining the foreign passport but you do not have to live in your new (or rather, in your second) home country. What is more, some national states granting their citizenship in exchange for investmentы do not even require that the new citizen visit the country in order to obtain the passport. So, what kind of investment can you make if you want to acquire second citizenship? Different countries offer different sets of options. These options can include the following ones:
- A non-recoverable donation to the state fund. With all national citizenship-by-investment programs, this is the cheapest way to acquire foreign citizenship. Its obvious disadvantage is the impossibility to return such an ‘investment’.
- Purchase of real estate in the host country. All countries that grant citizenship to foreigners who buy real property allow selling it back after a certain period of ownership (these periods will differ from country to country) while preserving citizenship of the country. (Cyprus is the only exception: you have to retain the property that you buy in the country for life.) The required investment amount is always higher than the required donation amount. However, the obvious advantage of this option is the possibility to return your investment after some time, at least theoretically. The developers in some countries provide buyback guarantees when you invest into real estate in a foreign country in order to become its citizen. This possibility looks extremely attractive but few developers provide such guarantees and even if you find one, you have to study the buyback agreement carefully.
- Investment into a business project in the host country. Not all national states allow investing into business in order to qualify for their citizenship but those that do, usually require a substantial amount of investment. This option will be preferable to the investor with a vivid entrepreneurial spirit: when you invest into business, you always count on making a profit eventually. If your business in the foreign country is successful, you can think of your second passport as of an additional bonus the profit that your business brings being its primary purpose.
- Purchase of state bonds. These are usually zero-interest bonds but you will have a Government guarantee that you can sell them back after a few years. When pondering investing into state bonds, you have to do some simple math. For example, if the amount of the required investment into bonds is US$ 500,000 and you can safely make a 5% annual profit by investing this sum in securities at home, buying state bonds makes financial sense only if the required donation amount is US$ 150,000. If it is US$ 100,000, you will actually lose more money if you invest into bonds than you will by making a donation.
- Making a bank deposit. Again, not all countries will have this option. Those that do, require that you make a fixed-term deposit with a bank in the country (or the Central Bank) at a zero or low interest. This kind of investment is secure but it is similar to investing into state bonds in that you are going to lose some money on the zero/ low interest if you put the required amount of money in the bank.
Why acquire foreign citizenship for money
You are a citizen of the country where you were born, so why would you need a second citizenship? Actually, there are multiple reasons to seek foreign citizenship by investment even though it is going to cost you at least US$ 100,000 and more in most cases.
Whatever citizenship you have, your home country puts some limitations on you. These limitations can be of an economic or a political character. The passports of some countries will give visa-free access to few foreign states. If you ‘buy’ a second passport, you will thus gain access to a larger number of foreign countries that you can visit without having to apply for visas.
There is a large national state in the world that taxes its citizens regardless of where they make an income – at home or abroad. At the same time, some countries that have citizenship-by-investment programs apply the so-called territorial taxation system when only the income that is made on the territory of the country is taxed. In addition to that, they offer some other tax planning instruments.
When you acquire a foreign passport, your home country’s authorities are not going to be informed about that. (Well, unless you want to inform them yourself.) What advantages can this bring? You can use your second passport when buying a piece of real property abroad, for instance. Or you can show it to the bank clerk when establishing a foreign bank account. The fiscal bodies at home will remain ignorant of the things that you do abroad. What is more, these things will be perfectly legal as you will be using a perfectly legal identification document, namely, your second passport.
Generally speaking, with a foreign passport you will obtain all the opportunities that the native-born people of the country have. If there is one important opportunity that your home country passport does not provide for but you can find it in another country, applying for foreign citizenship is already worth considering.
The procedure of obtaining foreign citizenship for money
You have to realize that all citizenship-by-investment programs are official Government programs that are regulated by the corresponding national laws. There are certain rules that cannot be violated and certain barriers that cannot be overcome in any circumstances. For example, if you cannot supply a clean criminal record, you will not be able to obtain foreign citizenship. If you cannot supply proof that the capital that you are planning to invest into a second passport comes from a legal source, you will not be able to obtain foreign citizenship.
You also have to realize that most of the countries that grant citizenship to foreigners for money are small island states. Quite naturally, they are under pressure from large and powerful nations that give visa-free access to their citizens. These large states do not want a criminal with a Caribbean passport, for example, to penetrate into their territories and violate their laws. For this reason, you should be prepared for the fact that the authorities of any country where you can apply for second citizenship are going to perform very strict due diligence checks. They have to do so.
A positive aspect related to the security checks is that they often do not require your personal presence in the country for whose citizenship you are applying. The immigration authorities check the application documents that you supply and they do so by relying on international databases and involving independent detective agencies.
You cannot obtain citizenship of a foreign country by supplying false information in your application documents. The truth is going to be found out anyway and your application for citizenship will be rejected. If you manage to get away with a falsified document when applying for foreign citizenship and obtain it, you will be deprived of it when the truth comes out. Please bear in mind that it is important to supply only true information when applying for second citizenship.
What do the immigration authorities of the host country want to see most importantly? First, they want to make sure that you are a law-abiding person who has no criminal past. Second, they want to have some conclusive evidence that the money that you are planning to spend on foreign citizenship acquisition has been earned in a legal way. Third, they want to make sure that you are a person in good health. This does not mean that you have to be perfectly healthy but you should have no infectious nor serious diseases.
Anyway, acquiring foreign citizenship for money is quite possible and the procedure will usually consist of several steps:
- Step 1: Choose the investment option. Do you want to play safe and make a donation while saying goodbye to a smaller sum of money? Or are you feeling lucky and you want to make a larger investment with the hope to return it with a profit at some point in time? Making the wisest choice can prove quite difficult. Please read the articles at our portal and/ or apply for a personal consultation on foreign citizenship acquisition by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be delighted to help you make the optimal choice.
- Step 2. Submit the application for citizenship. This can be done only via a licensed immigration agent. No national law allows submission of applications by the foreigners on their own. This is where Offshore Pro Group’s assistance is going to be especially valuable: we will help you ascertain that your application document package contains all the required papers and that they are drawn up in the proper ways.
- Step 3. Transfer the donation/ investment amount to the bank account that will be specified. The good thing here is that you will be asked to make the donation/ investment only after your application for citizenship has been approved by the immigration authorities.
- Step 4. Obtain the Naturalization Certificate and then the passport. Some countries make it possible to pick the passport from their embassies and consulates in foreign states. This means that you can become a citizen of a Caribbean country, for instance, and have its physical passport without ever visiting the region! When it comes to acquiring second citizenship in Europe, however, a personal visit to the country is necessary.
Now let us briefly describe the most attractive opportunities to acquire foreign citizenship for money.
Foreign citizenship for money in Cyprus
Cyprus offers the largest variety of investment opportunities but its citizenship costs more to acquire than citizenship of any other country. You have to make a 150,000-euro donation, buy residential accommodations that are worth at least half a million euros (and keep the accommodations in order to retain the citizen’s status) plus invest into real property, securities of a Cypriot-based commercial company, a new business company in the country, or put the money in the bank. The total amount of investments required for obtaining citizenship of Cyprus exceeds two million euros.
At the same time, it is an EU member state with all the accompanying advantages that this status brings. Besides, Cyprus used to be a British colony and thus it is also a member of the Commonwealth of nations. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with sunny weather, healthy food, advanced infrastructure, good education opportunities, and comparatively low taxes. The passport of Cyprus gives visa-free access to 158 countries of the world but you will have to acquire a visa if you want to enter the USA. Obtaining citizenship of Cyprus takes between six and nine months.
Foreign citizenship for money in Malta
Malta is another island state in the Mediterranean that grants citizenship to foreigners for money. The Maltese passport gives visa-free access to the largest number of foreign countries including the USA, Canada, and Australia. At the same time, acquiring citizenship of Malta requires making the largest non-returnable donation of 650,000 euros. Besides, it takes more than a year to obtain the Maltese passport, which is longer than anywhere else.
In addition to the donation, you have to invest minimum 350,000 euros into real estate on the island and buy Maltese securities worth 150,000 euros. You have to keep both the securities and the real estate in your possession for five years. There is also a possibility to avoid buying real property when applying for citizenship of Malta. Instead, you can sign a five-year rental agreement with the annual rent of at least 16,000 euros.
Foreign citizenship for money in Montenegro
Montenegro is the smallest republic of the former Yugoslavia. It is a beautiful country on the Adriatic coast with high mountains, thick forests, and low taxes. More and more businesses are relocating to Montenegro from other European states as well as other parts of the world.
The required donation amount is 100,000 EUR plus you have to invest minimum 250,000 EUR into real property located in the northern part of the country or 450,000 into property located in the southern part of the country and in the capital city of Podgorica. The passport of Montenegro gives visa-free access to over 120 countries of the world. The time required for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship is between four and six month. It is the youngest national citizenship-by-investment program at the moment when this text is written.
Foreign citizenship for money in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean is one of the three countries with the lowest amounts of the required donation. You have to donate US$ 100,000 to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda. Please bear in mind, however, that there are other expenditures associated with acquiring citizenship of this country as well as any other country that offers such an opportunity. There are immigration agent fees, application processing fees, passport issuance fees, and other state duties. Therefore, citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda is going to cost you more than the amount of money quoted above.
The passport of Antigua and Barbuda gives visa-free access to over 150 national states, which is more than any of the country’s competitors in the Caribbean region can offer. As is the case with all other Caribbean passports, the Antiguan passport provides for the opportunity to live and work in any of the CARICOM states (this organization has fifteen member states in total). As is the case with all other Caribbean passports, the passport of Antigua and Barbuda allows entering the Schengen zone countries and Great Britain without visas.
In addition to that, Antigua and Barbuda offers some efficient tax planning instruments but you will have to structure your assets wisely to be able to use these instruments. The citizenship acquisition timeframe is three to six months.
Foreign citizenship for money in Dominica
The Commonwealth of Dominica is one more Caribbean state that offers its citizenship to foreign nationals at the lowest price. Just like in Antigua and Barbuda, the required donation amount in Dominica is US$ 100,000. Dominican authorities have vast experience in administering the citizenship-by-investment program as it was launched in the last decade of the previous century.
The passport of Dominica gives visa-free access to over 120 foreign countries and it takes between three and six months to obtain one.
Foreign citizenship for money in Grenada
The Grenadian passport stands out among other Caribbean passports by providing for an opportunity to enter China and Russia without visas in addition to other 120+ visa-free jurisdictions. Besides, it is the only Caribbean country whose citizenship allows acquiring an E-2 business visa to the United States.
The passport of Grenada ‘costs’ US$ 150,000 for a single applicant and US$ 200,000 for a married couple. All Caribbean countries accept family applications for citizenship and all of them charge extra if more than one applicant is included in the application. Besides, there is an opportunity to invest at least US$ 220,000 into real estate in Grenada thus qualifying for citizenship of the country. The application processing time is three to six months.
Foreign citizenship for money in Saint Kitts and Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis has the longest running citizenship-by-investment program in the world. Over the years, the Government of the country has been able to use the money that the program brings in an efficient way and turn the islands into a popular tourist destination that boasts advanced tourist infrastructure. The St Kitts and Nevis passport allows entering over 130 countries without visas.
The minimum required donation amount in the country is US$ 150,000. However, in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of St Kitts and Nevis has reduced the required donation amount for family applicants significantly. It used to cost US$ 195,000 to acquire citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis for a family of four members. Now a family of four can acquire passports of the country at the same price that a single applicant can – US$ 150,000. This offer is going to remain in force only until the end of 2020 when the pandemic is over, as we all hope.
Besides, there is a possibility to make a returnable investment into the economy of St Kitts and Nevis. If you buy a US$ 200,000 worth of property on the islands, you will have to keep it in your possession for seven years so as not to lose your second citizenship. If you invest US$ 400,000, you can sell the property back after five years.
In addition to that, St Kitts and Nevis invites foreign applicants for citizenship to use the Accelerated Application Processing (AAP) opportunity. The AAP allows acquiring citizenship of the country within 45 to 60 days only. This opportunity comes at an additional pay though.
Foreign citizenship for money in Saint Lucia
Just like all other Caribbean states offering their citizenship to foreigners for money, St Lucia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and a UN member as well. The passport of St Lucia is well respected in the world and it gives visa-free access to 146 countries in total. Some taxes found in other jurisdictions are inexistent in St Lucia.
St Lucia is the third country with the lowest required donation amount of US$ 100,000. Instead of making the donation, you can also make a returnable investment into real estate in the country, a business project there, or buy Government bonds. St Lucia is another country that is taking measures against the pandemic crisis. It has cut the amount of the required investment into Government bonds by two and now you can invest US$ 250,000 into bonds (was US$ 500,000 before) and this will make you eligible for St Lucian citizenship. The bonds do not pay any interest but there is a buyback guarantee from the Government of the country. (You will have to keep the bonds in your possession for five years and then you can sell them back at their face value.) This offer is also valid only until the end of 2020. The application processing time is three to six months in St Lucia.
Foreign citizenship for money in Vanuatu
Finally, we would like to bring to your attention the possibility to acquire citizenship of the South Pacific state of Vanuatu. It is a faraway country consisting of several dozen islands, some bigger, some smaller. Its economy is based on agriculture, fishery, banking and financial services, and tourism. Business companies registered in Vanuatu are exempted from most taxes.
The passport of the country allows entering around 140 national states and territories without visas and the applications for citizenship are processed rather fast there, within six to nine weeks. The cost of acquiring citizenship of Vanuatu is a bit more than US$ 145,000.
Offshore Pro Group that owns Internationalwealth.info portal is authorized to act in the interests of the clients applying for citizenship of any of the countries mentioned above. We have processed over a thousand applications over the years that we have been working in this industry and we are able to foresee any difficulties that may arise in the foreign citizenship acquisition process.
Our goal is to offer the most efficient solutions to our clients. If you would like to learn about a certain citizenship-by-investment program in detail, please contact us at email@example.com and apply for a personal consultation.
What is the best way to obtain Caribbean citizenship for money?
It is hard to give a precise answer. You have two basic options to choose from: make a non-returnable donation or a returnable investment. The donation amount is always lower than the required investment amount but it cannot be recovered. If you make an investment, you may return part of your money after a certain period of time, all of your money, or you can return the investment with a profit. You will have to make your own decision.
Which foreign passport is more preferable?
Without doubt, the Maltese passport is the most powerful passport to be found in a country that grants citizenship to foreigners for money. The Cyprus passport comes second as it gives visa-free access to the second largest number of countries. However, European passports cost much more than Caribbean ones while providing free access only to a few more countries.
What is the best citizenship by investment option in 2020?
All countries have their own unique selling points. We suggest that you pay special attention to the limited-time offers made by St Kitts and Nevis and by St Lucia. The first country currently offers its citizenship to a family of four at the same price that it offers its citizenship to a single applicant – US$ 150,000. The second country currently requires twice as small an investment into Government bonds as it required before. Purchasing a US$ 250,000 worth of bonds, you obtain a buyback guarantee from the national Government while the mandatory bond ownership period is five years.