The CBI/RBI industry has seen some dramatic changes residence and citizenship programs during the year 2018/19.
The Citizenship by investment industry is seeing a rapid growth year by year and the demand for second passports just keeps on increasing and the investment migration industry expected to hit $20 billion by 2020. There are over 550 firms serving the RCBI industry. US , Canada and Australia are the most popular countries for investment among HNW migrants wanting a better education for family and preserving their wealth investing in a stable country offering high standards of living. According to a survey one-third of rich, already have a second citizenship and passport and another one-third are considering it in their investment portfolio.
Wealthy chinese have dominated in 80% in most of the immigrant investor schemes running the world followed by Russians. Wealth is moving across continents through immigrant investor schemes.
- Golden visa schemes offer residence by investment against investing in a property or in government debt, providing a path to future citizenship.
- Citizenship by investment schemes offer a fast track citizenship and passport by contributing one-time to a government sovereign fund or buying a property or doing a large enterprise investment.
The following are the latest updates for 2019 for golden visas and citizenship by investment programs.
Moldova opened new citizenship by investment scheme in Nov 2018. Foreign investors and families eligible for citizenship by contributing $100,000 plus fees to Public Fund. Moldova approved first CIP applicant and close to 30 files received since the launch of MCBI in 2018. As of June 2019, Moldova passport scheme for investments is suspended.
Greece is preparing to open a new citizenship for investment scheme to foreign investors buying real estate for 2 million euros. It is expected to start in early 2020. Greek golden visa scheme soars becoming the biggest and most popular RBI schemes in Europe. The property prices in Greece remains low attractive for real estate buyers. Piraeus and Athens are the most popular locations to buy property. Greece also plans to introduce EUR 400,000 Government bond and bank deposit options in 2019.
Montenegro will open for applications for economic citizenship program by end of 2019. Investment conditions are EUR 250,000 real estate investment plus EUR 100,000 state fee plus other fees in underdeveloped areas. Montenegro announced selection of 3 marketing agents and 2 due diligence firms.
Turkey cuts citizenship prices by 75% for its citizenship by investment program which requires $250,000 in real estate and $500,000 in Government bonds or businesses. Invest Turkey sets up special citizenship office, and foreign property buyers qualify for citizenship from president’s office within 6 months. Turkey also eases property purchase regulations. Turkey has simplified citizenship rules. Now residence permit and citizenship applications can be filed together at Invest turkey offices in Ankara and Istanbul. Turkey has $2 trillion economy. No other CBI country has trillion economy.
Antigua and Barbuda slashed its NDF prices by 50% Limited time offer to just $100,000 from $200,000 after Barbuda was destroyed by Hurricane seeking money for recovery efforts. Antigua also lowered the processing fee for the real estate and business investment option for a family of four to US$50, 000. Canada revoked visa waiver agreement of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017, citing its concerns with the CBI programme. Antigua further announced Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies accepted for citizenship by investment scheme including payments in EUR and GDP.
Saint Lucia announced amendment to its CBI program removing limit of applications and lifting the $3 million asset requirement. The qualifying investments for single application under National Economic Fund is $100,000 and $165,000 for Family application. As a part of new CBI amendments in 2019, St Lucia has simplified CBI scheme, now accepts applications for spouse, children and parents post granting citizenship. Processing time reduced to 80 days.
St Kitts and Nevis introduced Hurricane Relief Fund with contribution requirement of $150,000 as a limited time offer expiring on March 30, 2018. St Kitts and Nevis signed visa waiver agreement with Russia and Indonesia. St Kitts passport tops the Henley 2019 Passport index among other CBI passports in the region with the maximum visa free countries. St Kitts cuts real estate investment to $200,000. St Kitts signs more visa waivers with Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine etc. St Kitts now requires biometric fingerprints of applicants and strengthened the Escrow CBI act to protect investors in real estate. St Kitts is the richest country in terms of GDP per capita among CBI countries in the Caribbean.
Dominica EDF contribution remains the same at $100,000, but Dominica announced cut due diligence fee, processing fees, naturalisation fee, and also increased age limits for dependents and grandparents until March 2018, making the process easier. Dominica announced no government discounts for CIP.
Grenada reduced its investment contribution to $150,000 for NTF Single applicant. Grenada also reduced real estate to minimum $220,000 No changes in the family option or real estate. Grenada also increased the age of dependent children (26 to 30) and grand parents (55 to 65) making the application process easier. Grenada also tightened real estate regulations under CBI program. Grenada also signed visa waiver agreements with Russia and UAE.
Malta Individual investor program will be extended once the 1800 cap is reached. The IIP scheme requires around EUR 900K euros investment to get Maltese passport after 1 year. Over 1200 families received Malta passport under the IIP scheme and the Prime Minister has announced the IIP scheme has brought half a billion to Malta. IIP Agency boss IIP risk matrix one of the best due diligence process for screening of applications.
Spain golden visa scheme is becoming increasingly popular. Russians, Chinese and Americans buying properties in spain over 500,000 euros in Catalonia, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Costa del sol. As of June 2018, Spain issued 13,522 golden visas to foreign investors since 2013. this represents 35% more than previous year. Foreigners are not required to live in Spain who acquire golden visa
Cyprus announced new amendments to citizenship investment scheme. The scheme prices raised by EUR 150,000 requiring EUR 2.15 million. Government bonds removed and all applicants must require schengen visa. Last year the cabinet announced it may cap its citizenship program 700 applications annually and will enforce rules to limit promotion of the program. Cyprus imposed schengen visa requirement for applicants effective from 15 May 2019 and increased the investment by EUR 150,000 euros. The minimum investment for citizenship in cyprus stands at EUR 2.15 million euros. Cyprus also has a golden visa scheme
Vanuatu announced the prices cut prices by 30%, to $150,000. The Government announced no real estate option attached to citizenship by investment scheme and bitcoin will not be accepted by government.
Bulgaria tightened rules for granting citizenships to investors. The Bulgaria citizenship by investment and golden visa scheme has become popular ever since Bulgaria qualified for visa waiver with Canada in 2017. Bulgaria requires EUR 500,000 for golden visa and EUR 1 million investment in bonds to acquire citizenship in 18-24 months. In 2019 Bulgaria ministry of justice also tightened citizenship rules for investment activity along with new proposals for closing the citizenship and golden visa scheme. Bulgaria granted 29 fast track citizenships in 2018 for investment.
Anguilla announced opening of a new ARBI residence by investment scheme. The first phase of scheme begins on Nov 1, 2018 and investors who buy $750,000 real estate can qualify. Donation option also available fo $150K capital fund. The second phase for $400,000 real estate will commence later in June 2019. Anguilla RBI scheme offers investors full path to British overseas territory citizen (BOTC)
Italy opens investor visa scheme. The scheme requires EUR 500,000 in startups or 1 million in Government bonds or enterprises
Portugal golden visa scheme investment exceeds EUR 4.4 billion euros in Apr 2019. Property prices rising steadily in Lisbon and surrounding areas. 6687 residence permits issued. Portugal amended law to reduce citizenship time to five years from six (spanish speaking countries)
Latvia has the cheapest EUR 50,000 plus state fee golden visa scheme in Europe. Latvia has issued over 4000 golden visas and half of it went to real estate investment. Government bonds and real estate require EUR 250,000 plus state fee. Less than 1000 people obtain latvian citizenship by naturalization every year after latvia tightened citizenship rules.
Malta has issued less than 1000 citizenships under IIP. The residency visa scheme amended to include stocks and government bonds /securities listed in Malta stock exchange. Investors who buy government or company stocks for EUR 250,000 receive a permanent residence permit in Malta. Over 1000 applications received coming at 50 to 60 per month.
Thailand received record number of applications for its elite visa scheme. It is the cheapest residence visa program in Asia costs $15,000 to receive a five year visa.
Malaysia received over 1 million applications for its MM2H my home program. The scheme requires $120,000 in liquid assets plus $10,000 income per month to receive residence status in Malaysia. Malaysia has tightened MM2H rules now requiring good conduct and police certificates.
Jordan offers permanent residency to foreigners who buy $250,000 in real estate. Citizenship after five years to those who invest excess of $1 million to Government Securities/Bonds, Bank deposit or Enterprises.
United Kingdom introduced new changes effective from May 29, 2019. The investment requirement remains the same £2m investment but changes include removal of government bonds/securities, investments must be held for 3 years instead of 6 months. Entrepreneur visas replaced with startup and innovator visas starting from £50,000 investment
Australia is no longer a popular destination for chinese investors and losing its place among HNW chinese investors. Australia offers many categories of business innovation visas starting from AUD 300,000 and Significant investor visas (SIV) starts from A$1.5m
Canada increases the investment to $1.2 million for Quebec immigrant investor program with an annual quota of 1900 applications. The total net assets also increased to $2 million. Canada also has New brunswick entrepreneur scheme for $250,000 requires business investment and job creation. It is not a passive investment
Ireland announces minimum investment for immigrant investor scheme is EUR 1 million and no debt or loans permitted. There is alsoe endowment option of EUR 500,000. Ireland has tightened checks on applicants with Enhanced due diligence (EDD), also compliance with OECD tax matters. The lengthy checks cause delay in processing times between 6-12 months for immigrant investor applications. Ireland received close to 700 million euro through IIP scheme and 60 endowment applications approved.
United States EB-5 is increased to $900,000 (from $50K0K) and $1.8 million (from $1m) effective from Nov 21, 2019 as a result of new applicable modernization rules. Chinese have a waiting time of 15 years for EB-5
New Zealand is the most popular investor destination for very wealthy or UHNW americans and chinese. NZ attracts ultra high net worth investors through investor visa scheme N$ 3 – N$15 million. New zealand moved to e-visas
- Dominica is the cheapest CBI for single applicants.
- Antigua is the cheapest CBI for families. Please note currently Antigua offers 50% discount.
- Real estate option also becomes cheaper than donation option for large families with over 5 dependants.
- Moldova and Montenegro have their pricing in Euros, so you have to convert to US dollars for effective comparison for cheap.
- Malta IIP scheme contributions significantly vary between 900K to 1.1M depending on the family members.
Here are important differences that between CBI/CIP schemes
- Antigua is a the cheap and best CBI passport, which St Kitts has the powerful CBI passport in the Caribbean in terms of visa free countries.
- St Kitts, Dominica is the most popular citizenship by investment schemes
- Grenada is the most valuable CBI passport. It citizenship can be transfered to all generations, has visa free access to China/Russia and provides access to E-2 treaty visa to United States.
- Cyprus investor citizenship scheme has a cap of 700 applications annually and applicants need to have schengen visa, as of 2019 amendments.
- Dominica and Antigua have signed visa waiver agreement with Russia, while St Kitts actively pursues expanding the list of visa waiver countries.
- Cyprus, Bulgaria are the only CBI passports that have visa free (ETA) access to Canada.
- Maltese citizens can qualify for visa waiver with United States (ETA)
- Antigua has 5 day residence requirement when renewing passport after expiry. Malta has 12 month physical residence requirement (e-residence), whereas Cyprus require 6 month immigration permit before receiving passport and citizenship
- Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria are full EU citizenship status that offer right to live, work, study and full establishment in EU-28 member states.
- Montenegro to accept CIP applications by end of 2019. Montenegro aims to become full EU member state by 2025 and will also be a part of schengen area.
- Moldova passport does not have visa free access to United Kingdom or Ireland. Only EU schengen countries.
- Vanuatu has easy application process for DSP citizenship investment scheme
- All CBI countries fully support dual citizenship.
- St Kitts is the only country that does not require oath for citizenship. All other countries require oath of allegiance
- Turkey requires $250K property investment to become a turkish citizen. This scheme is the newly launched CBI scheme in 2018.
- Over 80% of CBi citizens take donation route, while 15% invest in real estate, while only less than 5% opt for business investment route.
- Malta publishes names of CBi citizens who acquired citizenship through Individual Investor program (IIP) in official Gazette every year.
- Citizens of Moldova, Turkey, Montenegro, Grenada can apply for E-2 visa to United States. E-2 visas cheap and fast alternative to EB-5 (waiting times)
- Montenegro follows INVESTMENT + DONATION model. This means you have to invest EUR 250K in real estate and pay additional EUR 100K as donation to development fund.
- European passports are widely respected best passports in the world than the Caribbean passports.
- Malta, Cyprus have the best education and healthcare systems in the world.
- Real estate investors can acquire permanent residence status, along with citizenship and passport. Buying a home proves genuine link to the CBI country.
- St Lucia is the most popular for tourism. St Lucia is the only country that offers citizenship against purchase of government bonds for $500,000. St Lucia has cut processing times to 80 days.
- Malta and Saint Lucia have strict compliance requirements and have high refusal rates for citizenship by investment applicants.
- Vanuatu has two CBi schemes: Development support scheme (DSP) and other Vanuatu contribution program (VCP). Both schemes require $160,000 donation for passports. Application process has been simplified. Vanuatu has issued over 4000 passports for investments to some 1200 economic citizens, according to latest reports.
- Turkey is $2 trillion economy and turkish CBI scheme has been simplified by Invest turkey, and from now on both residence and citizenship applications can be submitted at once, with Invest turkey offices.
|CBI Jurisdiction||Processing time||Visa free||Residence conditions||Passport validity||Biometric /ePassport|
|Malta||3 months||182||12 months||10||Biometric|
|Cyprus||3 months||173||6 months||10||Biometric|
|St Kitts||3 months||151||none||10||Biometric|
|Antigua||3 months||150||5 days||5||Biometric|
|Dominica||3 months||137||none||10||Machine Readable Passport (MRP)|
|St Lucia||2 months||145||none||5||Machine Readable Passport (MRP)|
|Vanuatu||3 months||129||none||5||Machine Readable Passport (MRP)|
|Bulgaria||2 months||169||2 years||10||Biometric|
- Golden visa schemes, unlike CBI schemes do not provide immediate citizenship or passports.
- Greece is the No.1 golden visa scheme in Europe followed by Portugal, Malta and Spain.
- Ireland has the best golden visa scheme in the world. Irish passports are in great demand with Brexit
- Portugal has Govt bonds option for €1 million euros. Green visa soon to be introduced for €500K.
- Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands have interesting golden visa schemes in Europe.
- Singapore has the best golden visa scheme in Asia offering permanent resident status through Global investor scheme for S$2.5m investment. The proximity of Singapore to mainland China makes it attractive for Asian investors.
- Malaysia MM2H scheme has tightened new requirements for applicants requiring criminal record certificate.
- UK tier1 investor visa scheme remains most attractive despite new rules. Applications soared in 2019. Entrepreneur visas replaced with Innovator visas requiring just £50,000 pounds, with a path to ILR permanent resident status after 5 years.
- New Brunswick offers entrepreneur business scheme to investors.
- British territory of Cayman islands offers residence visa to property investors who buy $1m worth of real estate.
- Golden visa schemes works best for applicants from countries where dual citizenship is prohibited instead of CBI schemes.
Loss of Passport
All applicants have to undergo four tier enhanced due diligence and background checks for criminal activity and source of funds by governments and third party due diligence firms. The checks take anywhere from 3-4 months.
Passports and citizenship acquired through CBI schemes may also be revoked if later found to be involved in
- Fraudulent activities
- False information or concealment of information
- Imprisoned in other country
- Sentenced in court proceedings
Please note if citizenship is revoked which could lead to statelessness.