What is happening with Golden visas and Citizenship by investment in 2021?.

CBI schemes offer fast track passports for investments, while golden visas offer residency for investments. The two sectors has created a new investment immigration industry worth $1 billion market annually in Americas, Caribbean and Europe.

Passports have become a new safe haven asset class offering life insurance and asset protection for families as a very good future investment. A second passport giving dual citizenship status is a must for any HNW investor in their investment portfolio to cover against global crisis and uncertainties

CoronaVirus Update

The Decline in the passport power of US and other countries due to coronavirus restrictions have fueled pickup in global demand for second citizenship programs. The Caribbean citizenship by investment programs have scored BIG and the interest for Portugal golden visa remains very high with a quarter of UNHWIs plan to explore second citizenship options abroad, according to Knight Frank study

CBI: All the citizenship by Investment programs are running normal, fully functional, no disruptions yet caused by coronavirus (covid-19). Border lockdown controls are still in place (CBI citizens not affected, non-citizens and visa holders are denied entry by many countries). All 5 caribbean citizenship programs and vanuatu have announced accepting e-applications filed online.

RBI: Immigration offices offering Golden visa program require prior appointments before visit for biometrics. Expected delays in processing of applications up to 6-8 months. Applications can be uploaded online. All applicants must personally visit the country once after approval for biometrics. The Interest for real estate investments through Golden visas remain at all time high.

Covid Impact: The CBI/RBI industry, like many other businesses and service, may likely face a slowdown as result of travel lockdown imposed on China and other countries due to coronavirus. Real estate sector, tourism, events conferences and business travel may see a major slowdown because of the travel and flight restrictions. Expect delays caused key essential services such as due diligence reports, passport services.  Governments and the industry must prepare adequately to handle the health crisis. Several countries have issued travel advisory limiting travel to countries with high Covid cases. Travelers from these countries, entry may be denied and citizens required to undergo quarantine. US have imposed temporary travel bans on schengen countries including UK/Ireland. Visitors who transited or traveled to Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France etc are barred entry by many countries due to COVID-19 outbreak.

As Coronavirus, spreads like a wildfire across many countries with different strains and variants, and over 90% world countries placing a ban on travelers. The US passport is quickly losing its shine and power, forcing significant number of americans to think about citizenship and residence planning abroad for the future.  Plan B has become quintessential for the post pandemic world, when the recovery is expected.

Covid Popularity: Covid and lockdowns has made impossible for us to take trips or travel. As a result passport programs that require no personal trips or visits have become extremely popular.  St Lucia, Dominica, Vanuatu have secured top spots in Best citizenship by rankings for 2021

Let us take a quick look into these schemes running in over 20 countries worldwide.

1. Dominica

Dominica remains the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean for 2020 driven by CBI revenues and tourism. New five star resort Kempinski opened in 2019 funded by CBI scheme. Dominica announced new changes accepting iranian clients and other restricted countries.

Effective from June 24, 2020, Dominica also made important legislative changes to CBI making it more family friendly. Further Dominica has cut prices for families, offering USD 25,000 discount to families. Post citizenship additions also possible for family members (parents, new born child and spouse)

Dominica has relaxed CBI regulations for family members by making important changes to the definition of dependant This makes it easier for family members to apply (eg. adult children upto 30 years without enrolled in educational institution, grandparents above 55 not required to live with applicant, provision to include physically and mentally challenged family members etc)

Commonwealth of Dominica opened in New embassy opened in United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen diplomatic relations and provide consular assistance to diaspora population and CBI citizens in UAE.

Dominica also made changes to CBI program in Feb 2020, by blacklisting Iran clients with exception that those who lived abroad more than 10 years and have no economic connections only can apply for Dominica citizen by investment program. Further nationals of Iran, North Korea and Sudan applying for CBI are subjected to additional Enhanced due diligence checks and they must pay additional fees for enhanced due diligence.

Dominica CBI scheme contributes to 52% of GDP of the island.

2. St Kitts and Nevis

The Cabinet of St Kitts and Nevis has announced Limited time covid-19 discount offer for families which has been further extended in 2021. As per the offer you pay $150,000 for family of four, instead of $190,000 giving them huge savings.

Effective from Nov 6, it is now possible to include siblings  (brother and sister) of main applicant for St kitts citizenship by paying a flat fee. under post citizenship addition option

St Kitts Government is spending more financial resources for due diligence of CBI citizens and to strengthen the integrity of citizenship by investment scheme.

St Kitts has established a escrow legislation to protect property investors from fraudulent real estate schemes. New changes to CBI announced in Budget 2021, will allow private properties to be sold under CBI scheme. CBI will be expanded to include alternative investment options.

The St Kitts Govt has undertaken major initiative in signing more visa waivers to strengthen the travel freedom of SKN passport. St Kitts will also implementing mandatory biometrics for CBI applicants from 2020.

3. Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua permanently extended the limited time offer which comes with 50% discount for the NDF donation. Prices will not increase for Antigua passport in 2020.

Due to Covid pandemic, Antigua has temporarily waived 5 day residence requirement to visit Antigua for passport renewal. Another important change announced is Oaths can now taken at Antigua consulates worldwide online.

Another important change made is children and dependents can now be added separately for just paying $10,000. Antigua Cabinet has also temporarily suspended the 5 day visit requirements due to Covid-19.

As of Nov 2020, Antigua cabinet has further announced expansion of scope of dependants resulting in price cuts for families. Post citizenship additions for family members

Antigua has introduced UWI fund for $150,000 (inclusive of processing fee) as an additional investment route. Only large families (6 or more) can apply. This option is cheaper than NDF for big families with six or more..

CBI citizens have until Jun 30, 2020 to replace old machine readable Antiguan passports to new biometric e-passports to comply with the international travel requirements. They cannot carry more than one passport as per recent Govt announcement.

Antigua currently remains as cheapest citizenship by investment scheme for families, what differentiates from other schemes is a family of four (husband, spouse, 2 children under 18) can get passports by paying just $125,000 compared to other CBI schemes.

Antigua announces delays in due diligence checks due to the impact of Coronavirus.

Antigua CIU has published statistics on the CBI program from its inception to 2019

Antigua has made important changes to CBI program from April 1, 2020.  Some of these changes include slight increase in processing fee for NDF and real estate investment becomes cheaper with processing fee cut by $20,000. Antigua is also easing country restrictions (eg. Iraq and other countries)

Antigua soon to accept stateless people amending its citizenship by investment 2013 legislation to allow wealthy stateless people born in these countries (UAE, Brunei, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) to obtain passports.

Antigua has also launched Nomad residence scheme in 2020, similar to Barbados.

4. Canada

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, which allows investors to obtain Canadian permanent residence with a $1.2 million investment, has been suspended until March 31, 2023 due to significant pending applications. This scheme is expected to reopen after this date.

Financing option for this schemes costs approx $250,000 but there are significant waiting times.

From now on, Quebec investor applicants has to undergo a civic test, according a new policy change. Effective January 1, 2020, a new selection condition regarding the learning of democratic values and the Québec values expressed by the Charter of human rights and freedoms applies to all new permanent selection applications submitted under one of the economic immigration programs.

5. Cyprus

The Citizenship by investment for 2m euros remains closed in Cyprus.

A New Golden visa scheme replacing the CIP is currently open issuing immigration residence permit for 300,000 euro property investment. The amended legislation was approved on 2020 expanding the golden ivsa.

Cyprus citizenship by investment program is being abolished from Nov 1, 2020 according to a decision by council of ministers due to widespread abuse of the program. Citizenship regulations is now tightened.

Cyprus has announced it has already submitted application to join schengen and will also likely get a visa waiver to United States under Visa waiver Program (VWP).

More than 600 accredited agents compete for 700 client quota annually. Government bonds removed for passport investors. Examination of  pending applications are now expedited for faster processing due to Covid-19

Cyprus has tightened AML regulations for investor citizenship scheme subjecting all applicants and their family members to strict background and enhanced due diligence checks, after allegations of passports being issued for high risk clients reported by international media. The new rules will also empower cabinet to denaturalize passport investors who break rules.

Cyprus has launched proceedings have been initiated on 26 persons to revoke citizenship, obtained by investment.

6. Malta

Malta has launched new citizenship by investment program. This scheme is known as exceptional citizenship for direct investments was published in gazette under Legal notice LN 434 of 2020. Here are quick summary of the new program

Malta Direct Citizenship by Exception

  • Investment increased to 750,000 € one time contribution to Govt for citizenship after 12 months. Another option is invest 600,000€ and apply for citizenship after 36 months.
  • Must rent a home for 16,000€ euro per year OR buy a real estate for 700,000 € as permanent home.
  • Applicants must live in Malta for one year (no citizenship without living)
  • Limited quota of 400 investors naturalized for direct investments every year. A total limit of 1500 investors apply
  • IIP Agency will be closed and replaced by creation of new agency known as “Community Malta” which will process all investment applications.

Malta has raised €1.4 billion euros so far  until 2020, according to the recent interview with Jonathan Cardona, CEO of MIIPA. This total includes the statutory contribution, purchase of bonds, purchase or lease of property and donations to local voluntary organisations.  Several applicants also opened a commercial operation on the islands, adding to the value generated.

Malta has very strict background checks. The refusal rate for citizenship applications stands at 25% to 33% over the years.  Malta has so far revoked citizenship for one applicant. The interest in Maltese citizenship scheme has been on decline due to negative media publicity and names of citizens published every year to general public.

Malta participates in US Visa waiver program (VWP). As a result of newly imposed travel ban by US government, nationals of these countries not eligible apply for Malta citizenship and residency program.

Malta Golden Visa Permanent Residency Program

Malta has announced important changes to Golden visa program. A New Malta Permanent Residency Program (MPRP) will open on March 29 2021 replacing previous Malta Residency Visa Program (MPRP).This program regulations published in gazette will more cheaper and easier to apply for Maltese residency. Among Proposed changes include removal of government bonds/stocks paying only a flat fee.

All applicants are required to meet 500,000 euro net asset of which 150,000 euro liquid asset requirement to become eligible. 

The Maltese golden visa program remains the cheapest golden visa program in Europe offering permanent residency in the schengen area. Malta’s golden visa scheme has grown into popularity, so far attracting 1500 families have acquired permanent residency in the schengen area.

Malta Nomad Residence

Malta has opened a new nomad residence permit program for remote workers, freelancers and self employed entrepreneurs. To apply you have to prove you receive an income of atleast 2,700 euro per month. You can receive a visa or residence permit for 1 one year with extensions. Family members can also receive maltese residency.

7. United Kingdom

The UK is one of the best countries in the world offering very high standards of living, world class educational institutions and healthcare system. The attractiveness of UK never ceased to abate with Brexit and has remained the ultimate immigration destination for rich HNW families.

The United Kingdom has the fastest golden visa programs in the world with most visa decisions are taken within 2-3 weeks.

The Tier1 I investor visa for £2 million offers a golden path to british citizenship after five years. New regulations introduced required investment must be maintained for 3 years to receive entry clearance for 40 months. The Govt bonds (Gilts) has been rescinded.

Education remains the top reason for high net worth individuals to consider UK as study destination. For those who look to study in UK, the education bonds is an attractive option to get tier1 investor visa for students without losing the main investment.

The application number soared for 2019 despite regulatory changes.

From 2021, UK Government to open tier1 investor and entrepreneur route to EU citizens post brexit. Latest figures shows a large number of St Kitts investors from the Caribbean applied for tier1 investor visas.

According to Home office statistics, a total of 360 UK tier1 investor visas have been issued. Interest have been low for innovator/startup visas, which remains unpopular.

Tier1 Issued Refused
2014 1172 98
2015 192 26
2016 217 24
2017 350 17
2018 374 15
2019 360 15
Total 2665 195

The UK passport remains fifth most powerful passport in the world.

UK nationals will cease becoming EU citizens after brexit transition period effective from Jan 1, 2021. The two words “European Union” will be removed from UK passports and the color passport turns to blue. From this date on, Britons will have to pass through passport control written  “OTHER” or ALL country nationals in airports.

UK to grant limited leave to remain status (5 years) for some 3 million Hong Kong residents who have British National (overseas) citizen status

8. Greece

The Golden visa (GV) scheme in Greece has become No.1 spot in Europe attracting property investors worldwide. The minimum property investment required 250,000 EUR is one of the lowest in Europe at a time Greece with low prevailing property prices among EU member states. Most importantly a permanent residence card valid for 5 years with unlimited extensions are issued for GV investors in Greece.

Greece made legislative amendments to Golden visa scheme from Dec 23, 2020. Greece is relaxing golden visa rules to restart its economy and reducing bureaucratic hurdles for investors buying golden visas. New changes allows foreign investors to invest in real estate, without setting foot in Greece through proxy giving power of attorney to authorized persons.

Greece announced in 2019 it is working on a new limited citizenship for investment scheme in 2020, but after few months the idea was abandoned, instead replaced passport scheme with tax residency scheme for HNW investors.

Chinese, Turks, and Arab investors are the biggest consumer market for Greek golden visas. The Government has announced a number of incentives for property including VAT and tax cuts to drive investments. The Golden visa scheme also allows more additional diversified options such as Government bonds, Bank deposits and investment funds.

Greece is the only country in Europe that officially offers golden visas for 400K euro cash deposits in Greek banks or Government bonds. It is also possible to get 10 year residence permit for investing in strategic investment in Greece.

Citizenship in Greece is possible after 7 years of legally living in Greece.  Greek passport is also a very powerful european travel document in terms of travel freedom.

Greece explored opening a citizenship by investment program in 2019, but the plan was later abandoned and replaced with Tax residency scheme to attract HNW individuals.

Greece Golden visa scheme will be open for UK citizens (third country nationals) from 2021, once the UK leaves the European Union after the transition period.

Greece has temporarily closed all immigration offices, suspending golden visa applications, due to coronavirus outbreak (force majeure)

WE accept Bitcoin for properties purchased under Greek golden visa scheme

9. Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a unique citizenship by investment scheme, in the pacific. Vanuatu offers a commonwealth passport that have visa free travel benefits to EU/UK, Russia and over 120 countries. It is the fastest passport by investment program in the world,  and Vanuatu passport can be issued in 30 days if all documents are in order.

Vanuatu remains the easiest citizenship by investment program apply in 2021 in terms of difficult in application and paper work.

Vanuatu has opened new Real Estate Option (REO) program for citizenship by investment. The regulations amending the citizenship passed in parliament and published in gazette. Investing in Government approved properties will qualify investors for citizenship.

The Vanuatu citizenship commission now accepts Oaths taken through video conferencing due to Covid-19 affect on travels. VCC has also set  minimum pricing for DSP/VCP scheme for all agents to avoid confusion.

Vanuatu has become the best citizenship by investment scheme for 2020 for its speed of processing applications and easy filing procedure. The program has become cheaper with government setting minimum pricing to $130,000.

Important condition is you have show proof of $250,000 in net assets before you apply for this scheme

Vanuatu has also fastest passport processing times for investment applicants. The decisions are taken within 20 days much faster than caribbean passport schemes. The application process of submitting documents is straightforward, less complicated.

Vanuatu does not accept bitcoin officially, but there is a way you can pay using bitcoin or cryptocurrencies.

New amendments to regulations established in 2019, set the minimum investment to $130,000 to Vanuatu DSP/VCP programs.  Vanuatu operates two different CBI programs with same minimum threshold, one difference is the VCP scheme has right to vote and the other doesn’t.

Vanuatu citizenship commission publishes official prices for CBI program to avoid confusion and outrageous fee charged by agents. No other additional fee apply
Why you should apply for Vanuatu citizenship by investment?
1. Unique CBI program in the pacific
2. Commonwealth passport
3. Fastest CBI in the world (approval issued within 20 days)
4. Visa free access to 129 countries (Russia, UK, Schengen)
5. No personal visit required
6. Stateless people can also apply
7. Pure tax free country (no personal, wealth or inheritance tax)

Vanuatu may also introduce a citizenship program with tighter rules for business investment to create jobs and employment in the country as recommended by the new Prime Minister. Vanuatu Govt has announced CBI citizens will be treated equally with locals and will fix any loopholes associated with honorary citizenship

2020 changes to Citizenship legislation: Vanuatu announced new changes to DSP and VCP programs from April 2020. From now on all applications can be received online. Due diligence prices increase to $5000 (from $2000) and processing time may slightly increase due to additional due diligence checks.

Vanuatu now accepts taking oath of allegiance through video conferencing due to travel bans related to Coronavirus outbreak. Previously taking oaths in front of passport officer in vanuatu or agents place only accepted.

Vanuatu Government is reviewing the citizenship by investment scheme seeking feedback from public and ministry, after concerns expressed by EU.

Vanuatu competes with Grenada, St Kitts to attract CIP clients for investments in $130K range and probably passport investors may find it very attractive. Note that Vanuatu has ONLY donation option and no real estate option for passports.

Citizenship Office has had success with its Vanuatu Development Support Program (VDSP) and Vanuatu Contribution Program (VCP). Revenue from VCP and VDSP totalled VT 7,094.2 million by the end of June 2020.

Vanuatu is conducting external review of the DSP/VCP passport schemes and new changes with various reforms, will be announced soon.

In 2020, Vanuatu announced economic citizens who apply through DSP and VCP schemes do not have right to vote, hold public offices or participate in politics.

10. Italy

Italy opened investor visa scheme in 2017, since then the investment scheme is still in infancy. Italy still offers residence visas for 500K in startups and 1M EUR in buying italian government debt.

One advantage of italian scheme is the special tax residency option offering a flat 100,000 EUR lump sum tax for millionaires or HNW individuals. Family members pay additional 25,000 EUR

The Italian investor residence scheme still remains unpopular and there is no record of any applications processed. Italy has the second most powerful passport in the world.

Italy offers a special tax regime to HNW investors who pay a flat tax.

11. Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the best countries to live, work and do business for HNW persons. Netherlands offers residence by investment scheme to foreign investors who invest EUR 1,250,000 in startups or investment funds in dutch companies.

There are no additional requirements and the application process is quite simple.

This scheme never took off and very few investor applications processed as of today!

Netherlands citizenship after five years of legally living and remember Netherlands still has limitations on holding dual citizenship

12. Australia

Australia has attracted billionaires from Asia since the launch of significant investor visa (SIV) program in 2012 and the scheme has generated excess of $11 billion dollars in investment.

Very wealthy chinese have invested over A$5 million dollars in this scheme and so far close to

Australia over the years has emerged as prime investment and immigration destination for wealthy millionaires due to stable political climate, geographically not far away from mainland china, excellent education system with best universities in the world, highest standards of living and biggest property market.

13. Spain

The Golden visa program in spain remains popular with chinese and russians buying properties in spain above 500,000 EUR. Spain also golden visa for highly qualified professionals and intra-company transfer employees.

The visa decisions for residence permits are taken within 10 days also one of the fastest.

In 2019, more than 2000 investors were issued golden visas for real estate investment in Spain.

14. Portugal

Portugal has the most successful and well managed efficiently golden visa scheme in Europe. The program never stopped receiving billions in investments.

Portugal is the No.1 Golden visa program for 2021.

The most popular investment route is 280K residential properties and buyback hotel shares in 5 star hotels (fully refunded by developer with 3-4% yield). Although the real estate option is 90% popular among britons, americans, chinese, russians and brazilians.

Decree Law No. 14/2021 of Portugal has approved new changes to Golden visa program that comes into force from Jan 1, 2022.  Last golden window of opportunity to invest in Lisbon, Porto and Algarve regions. The current minimum property investment remains at 280K euros in low density inner regions.

After this date the minimum investment for real estate increased to 500,000 euros on new properties and only possible to invest in autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or in inland territories. Capital transfer investments increase to 500,000 and for bonds and bank deposit require 1.5 million euros.

Portugal offers 20% discount for golden visa investments in rural or underdeveloped regions. That is you could invest 280K euros (instead of 350K) making it more cheaper for you.

Portugal GV is unique, and very attractive program in many ways, and there is a reason being so popular, standing out from the rest of the crowd. The geographic location of portugal with proximity to mainland of US, UK and Latin America with excellent flight connections attracts large number of property buyers

Portugal is the only golden visa program that offers citizenship without even living after 5 years with just few days of visits. No other golden visa program has this perk. All other programs require continuously live in the country before filing citizenship. If your goal is to become EU citizen, Portugal is way to go!

In 2019, Portugal granted record breaking number of citizenships mostly to brazilians, turks and israeli nationals. Last week Portugal made amendments to nationality law granting citizenship to children of migrants after just one year of legally living in Portugal.

Golden visa applications can still be filed online but appointments will be assigned only from July 1 in chronological order given equal treatment.

The Portuguese passport is also the best travel documents in the world with visa free access to United States, Canada and over 160+ countries. We recently ranked No.4 passport in the world.

Portugal also offers a special non-habitual tax residency  (NHR) scheme for golden visa investors. EU/EEE nationals cannot apply for PGV, although they qualify for NHR

From Jan 2021, this golden visa scheme will be open for UK nationals to apply, as a result of Brexit giving Britons a third country national status.

Portugal remains tax free for cryptocurrency investors. We accept Bitcoin for Golden visa property investments.

15. United States

US has implemented new reforms for the old EB-5 immigrant investor program. As of Nov 22, 2019, the most important change was minimum prices have been doubled to $900,000 (from $500K).  Other problems with EB-5 include long waiting times especially for chinese and fraud.

Since the announcement of new investment rules, the demand for EB-5 have slightly fallen, instead many investors especially from India, China prefer Grenada + E-2 investor route, as it is cheaper and much faster than waiting for years.

Since then searches in google tends show reduced interest to EB-5 compared to CBI and golden visa schemes.

EB-5 processing of applications will become much faster from March, since USCIS will be changing its approach based on visa availability instead of first-in-first-out policy. US also implemented visa restrictions for 13 countries

The United States is still the most popular destination for wealthy immigrants to pursue business interests and investment.

16. Moldova

Moldova launched a new citizenship scheme for investors in 2019 and the scheme only ran for 6 months before it is permanently closed for applications. Since Sep 2020, the citizenship by investment law has been repealed.

Currently the new government is reviewing whether to continue the scheme or not. This scheme is not closed yet remains suspended. No applications are accepted.

The Moratorium on the Moldova citizenship by investment scheme has been extended until 2021. So far only 5 applications have been accepted and granted citizenship. Application intake remains suspended as of 2020

Moldova citizens still do not visa waiver agreement with United Kingdom but can travel to schengen area for a limited time.

17. Montenegro

Montenegro citizen by investment scheme is currently open and accepting applications despite Covid-19. The Government has announced only investing atleast 250,000 EUR (north of montenegro) in Govt approved projects mostly in hotels will qualify for citizenship under special citizenship program.  There is a 100,000 EUR fee per application, pls Govt processing fee plus DD fees.

Update: Montenegro government announce it will close its special citizenship by investment scheme from Jan 1, 2022

Montenegro has expanded citizenship program for investments in agriculture, wood processing and fisheries for investments over 2-5 million EUR and creating 60 jobs.

The citizenship program is having a positive effect on Montenegro with positive results. The construction works in North of Montenegro is on schedule with no disruptions. Montenegro has approved 6 development hotel projects for citizenship purpose.

Montenegro is candidate country for EU membership negotiations are on and the Government has announced intentions to join EU on or after 2025. The country will also join schengen area after this date. So investing in Montenegro citizenship is a great future investment.

First citizenship by investment case approved by Montenegro in just 3 months. We now know Montenegro passports for investments issued after 6 months (90 days after citizenship approval).

The property prices in Montenegro is lowest in Europe, makes it desirable and a perfect opportunity to invest.

18. Egypt

Egypt has opened a brand new citizenship for investment scheme in 2019. Foreigners donating to state $250,000 or buying a property for $500,000 will be given fast tracked citizenship.

Egypt directly competes with Turkey CBI for investments. Egypt despite having a weak passport power is attractive to many arab investors because it is a trillion dollar economy, have E-2 treaty with United States.

19. Turkey

The Turkish citizenship by investment (TCBI) scheme has surprisingly become the most popular and successful scheme in the world. Since the investment reduced to $250,000, the scheme raised $1.75 billion dollars in the property sector. By 2020, close to 7000 foreign investors mostly from the Arab world have purchased properties in Turkey for citizenship.

New changes to the scheme during Covid-19 now allows bank account opening and buying properties done through proxy or power of attorney. It is also possible to register as citizen at embassies worldwide without visiting Turkey. Turkey has opened online portal to buy and sell properties in Istanbul and other regions.

Despite having a weak passport, the TCBI scheme has been most appealing to arab investors because of proximity to the arab world, a trillion economy with the biggest real estate market. Turkish nationals also qualify for E-1/E-2 visas to enter United States, which is another major advantage.

According to one real estate developer, there is a possibility that Turkey may raise the real estate requirement to $500,000 (from $250K) due to the demand in the market.

As of latest figures released by Ministry of Interior, Turkey has become new haven for citizenship by investment, reaching new heights.

  • $2.7 billion invested
  • 5,111 citizenships granted
  • 9000 applications in processing

20. Grenada

Ee ranked Grenada as the No.1 citizenship by investment program in the world for 2020 for its low pricing, passport power, and to pursue E-2 investment visa to the United States.  It is one of the best and exciting citizenship by investment schemes in the Caribbean.

Grenada has greatly simplified application requirements for the citizenship by investment scheme making it easier and faster for clients to apply. Due to covid, validity of documents such as medical, police certificates etc. have been increased

Grenada has issued more than 3300 passports to families as of 2019. For the first time applications for real estate surpassed the donation option from investors applying for passports.

Grenada is basically family citizenship by investment program with interest originating mainly from Chinese families.

Grenada’s iconic six senses hotel broke ground in La Sagesse beach and the development is expected to be fully completed by November 2022. Investors can buy a share in this development for $220,000 and if they want passports for family, they can expect the total costs to reach $300,000

21. Bulgaria

Bulgaria still runs a immigrant investor scheme that grants fast track citizenship in two years and it is not closed yet.  Don’t forget Bulgaria is a full EU member state and has visa free access to Canada. Bulgaria is a candidate country for joining schengen area and visa waiver program with US may happen in the future.

Bulgaria has modified its citizenship by investment scheme making amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship act from March 2021.

Update: Under the new 2021 changes, investments in government bonds or securities including financing option have been removed.

There is  also a golden visa scheme in Bulgaria that attracts investors who want just residency.

It is possible to acquire Bulgarian citizenship by investing 1 million euro  bank deposits.

The problem is you have to maintain citizenship for 5 years and this includes two years after receiving your citizenship. If you dont maintain investments, citizenship would be stripped and several investors have been revoked of investment citizenship for not maintaining investments last year.

22. St Lucia

Saint Lucia is a globally respected citizenship program offering a flagship CIP product.  Recent CIP Saint Lucia has rolled out e-payments platform to process virtual citizenship applications, making the CIP faster and efficient. This cuts processing times to 56 days making Saint Lucia fastest CIP in the Caribbean

Saint Lucia is the No.1 CIP in the World, taking first spot in Best CBI rankings for 2021

Saint Lucia has also expanded the scope of dependants in CIP Amendments 2020. The category of ‘qualifying dependant’ has been expanded and now includes the option to “add-on” qualifying dependants in all investment options for the granting of citizenship. Besides your spouse, you can now include children up to the age of 30 as well as parents over 55 if they are fully supported by you. An unmarried sister or brother who is under 18 can also be included in your application.

Saint Lucia passport program is getting more popular with americans and nigerians, especially the caribbean country is renowned for exotic holidays and honeymoon destinations. More than a million tourists visit St Lucia every year.

So far two real estate resorts have been approved: Canelles resort and Alpina hotel.  Only investing in these projects will qualify foreign investors for passport under CIP regulations

Despite all this, the St Lucia CIP scheme for passport remains cheapest for single persons for just $109,500 plus lawyer fee.

The Covid Bonds is the most popular citizenship route for St Lucia investing $250,000 fully refunded after 5 years which is guaranteed by government with no interest.

The Zero coupon treasury bonds are risk free investments. Since the entire bond sum is fully refunded by government without interest, the net costs for citizenship is less than $45,000 There is also a possibility for family of five to apply for $250,000 bonds without increasing the bond sum.

Saint Lucia has cut prices for families in a desperate move to attract investment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

St Lucia is the only caribbean national that offers citizenship by investment against buying zero coupon government bonds (a low risk investment). The Covid bond investment option introduced Covid-19 government bonds for $250,000 under limited time offer, this investment now reduced by 50% with slashing of fees. A family of 5 can apply paying $250,000 for bonds with no additional costs.  Considering the entire bond sum is refunded back by government, the net costs for citizenship remains less than $45,000. That is even $12,500 per family member. This makes St Lucia one of the cheapest CBI programs in the world. This bond option is available until end of Dec 2022.

So far, there are only two approved CIP real estate projects approved by government: A world class Canelles resort and Alpina hotel in development funded by citizenship by investment scheme. Those investing $300K or more in this development will receive passport for family.

Saint Lucia is a globally respected complete CBI program offering full citizen rights to investors (right to vote, public offices and right to enter politics)

Important deadline: The 50% Govt discount for Covid relief zero coupon bonds of USD 250,000 extended for one more year until Dec 31, 2021

23. Ireland

Ireland immigrant investor scheme remains open for applications despite Covid-19. Approved investors are granted stamp 4 permanent residency in Ireland. INIS made changes for applications can be submitted anytime (window period completely removed) and applications can be submitted anytime.

Ireland is the second best investment migration program in Europe, according to GV rankings 2021. Ireland is the only english speaking country in the European Union. Ireland is the choice for international students for having the best universities in the world. After Brexit, the demand for Irish passports is at all time high. Ireland issues EU passport being a EU member state.

Ireland is set to make an external review of the immigrant investor scheme in 2020. This investment scheme regulations has been tightened recently for both 400,000 EUR joint endowment and 1 million EUR investment funds or business investments.

The 1m EUR investment fund pays investment returns and are refundable after 5 years.

  • No loans allowed
  • Tax compliance with OECD/CRS
  • Investment transfers not allowed
  • Strict checks on source of funds

The Irish scheme receives small number of applications every year and still not as popular as other golden visa schemes in Europe.  Chinese are the biggest investors in this scheme. Ireland has just 1 day residency requirement.

Ireland offers 50,000 EUR education discount for children of immigrant investors under this scheme. Ireland has just 1 day residence requirement for stamp 4 permission

The demand for Irish passports have soared Ireland is a full EU member state but has opted out of schengen area.

24. Germany

Germany does not have a real golden visa scheme at the moment but it is possible to get residence permit in Germany by investing atleast 100,000 EUR in German businesses, startups and enterprises with intention to create positive impact on German economy and atleast five jobs.

Passive investments such as real estate do not qualify for residence permits in Germany at the moment.

25. Austria

Austria offers residency to self employed professionals with minimal investment who are able to financially support themselves. Austria grants Red-white-red card to professionals investing atleast 50,000 EUR in startups and creating jobs. Family members also qualify along with the investors.

Note that one disadvantage with Austria is citizenship takes long time as 10 years of living is required and dual citizenship is prohibited.

26. Belgium

Belgium offers professional card to high economic value investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons.

Every foreigner who exercises self-employed professional activities in Belgium on a long-term basis, has to have a professional card. The validity of the professional card depends on the business investment

Citizenship after just five years of living.

27. Latvia

Latvia does have one of the oldest golden visa schemes actively running, quite popular with russian investors. The scheme has low investment conditions such as 50,000 EUR (business) or 250,000 (real estate) or bonds.

The scheme despite all this failed to become a popular golden visa scheme due to new strict regulations introduced in 2015 and high application costs close to 30,000 euros per application.

Latvia passport remains 19th powerful and strongest passport in the world, tied with Cyprus in our passport rankings for 2020

Naturalizing for citizenship takes lengthy 10 years and there is no chinese interest in latvian scheme.

28. Albania

Albania is exploring a brand new citizenship by investment program for $100,000 (donation) and also property buyers get fast tracked citizenship. The regulatory provisions is currently being examined by the Govt and Albania may likely to open a passport scheme in the future

29. British Overseas Territories

The British overseas territories also offer investor residence schemes in exchange for real estate investment with a path to BOT citizenship at later stages after legally living.

Cayman – $1M
Anguilla – $750K
Bahamas – $750K

These are some of the wealthiest british colonies in the Caribbean with highest prevailing property prices in the region.

A UK passport is superior compared to British overseas territory passport.

30. Asian Golden Visa schemes

Some of the the wealthiest countries in Asia also offer residence by investment schemes to attract investment

Singapore – S$ 2.5 million (Global investor immigration program)
Malaysia – $125,000  MM2H program
Thailand – $30,000 (Elite)
Hong Kong – Entrepreneur / Startup scheme

31. Russia

Russia to lift dual citizenship restrictions on naturalized citizens, which opens up Russia as great investment destination. Russia currently allows dual citizenship to its citizens but with prior permission.

Russia already has citizenship by investment program but one has to wait 3 years for citizenship.

32. Singapore

Singapore is expanding the Global investor program (GIP) rules. From March 2020, family offices, successful startups and companies can invest in Singapore and seek permanent residence by investing S$2.5m ($1.8m).

Singapore is No.1 country in the world for education, healthcare, ease of doing business and strong passport.

There are also disadvantages with Singapore golden visa program.

  • Singapore does not allow dual citizenship (requires you to renounce previous citizenship if you become singapore citizen)
  • Conscription/national service is required for permanent residents and citizens above 16.5 years and must be enrolled.

33. Bangladesh

Bangladesh is another asian country that woos foreign investors with citizenship by investment and permanent residency program. Foreign investors are required to invest $750,000 for citizenship by investment and just $75,000 to secure a permanent residency.

34. Samoa

The Samoan citizenship by investment program was launched in 2017 under the Citizenship Investment act 2016. The program is currently active remains open but received no significant interest from investors. The program is administered by Ministry of Commerce.

The Samoan citizenship investment program requires SAT 4 million (US$1.5 million) and also investors must have net worth of SAT 1.5 million (US$1 million). Citizenship is issued after permanent residency. Passports are issued valid for 5 years. Real estate, hotel developments, manufacturing and technology investments allowed under this scheme.

One of the greatest advantages of samoan program is very good passport with ability to travel visa fee to Canada, UK, Schengen area and other countries. Samoa program is not in the list of OECD blacklist of CBI/RBI schemes.

This program may be attractive to those who want a very good discrete and exclusive passport through investment.

Western Samoa should not be confused with American Samoa

35. Solomon Islands

Solomon islands announced this week, the government is considering a  new citizenship by investment program in the pacific region, similar to that of Vanuatu, to raise investment for the country.  The country has a powerful passport with visa free access to Canada, UK, EU schengen area and likely once the program opens, it is expected to become more popular

36. Mauritius

Mauritius has reduced golden visa investment to USD 350,000 (from $500K) to acquire permanent residency through real estate investment in the island. The validity of permanent residence cards extended to 20 years (from 10 years). These important changes were announced in the Budget 2020 speech.

37. United Arab Emirates

The UAE Government has announced, for the first time in history, the  emirati citizenship will be granted to foreigners, investors and expats.

Amendments to law adopted that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialized talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey.

The law allows receivers of the UAE passport to keep their existing citizenship. UAE will be legalizing dual citizenship for the first time to expats.

38. North Macedonia

North Macedonia has opened a new investor citizenship scheme in Europe. It is a very good passport with visa free access to 124 countries and territories including Schengen, Japan, Ukraine etc..

This program is still NOT active will be launched in the future.

North Macedonia is a candidate country to join EU in the future and has both E-1 and E-2 treaty with United States.

Under the CIP regulations, you are required to invest €200,000 euro in a Government donation fund (taken back after 2 years) and €400,000 euro in Business projects creating 10 jobs or in securities and shares.

According to Investment law of Macedonia, only main investors can receive citizenship. Family members do not receive citizenship under this scheme. This program may be advantageous mainly to single applicants (with no family)

It is a generous CBI scheme limited to 1000 investors and a much cheaper program than Montenegro. This program could be pretty interesting for those who like to acquire a discrete citizenship in Europe.

39. Seychelles

The Seychelles investment board announced opening of new citizenship by investment program in this small african island for $1 million investment. The Conditions for citizenship include 11 years of living, no criminal record and taking citizenship test.

Seychelles passport remains one of the powerful passports in the world. This country has visa free travel to close to 150 countries and territories. This country is one of the few countries in the world that has visa waivers with Russia, China, UK, EU schengen countries (others are Brunei, Grenada, Mauritius)

40. El Salvador

El Salvador has become the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. The Government has approved new immediate permanent residency program for crypto investors investing BTC 3 or more.

Q&A

What’s new in 2021?

The Global demand and interest remains high for citizenship and residency programs. Due to Covid, personal visits are exempted, making it possible to apply remotely at consulates through power of attorney issued to proxy. Covid Govt discounts available for families applying for CBI programs. Further processing times have been reduced due to digital processing of applications.

Which is the easiest citizenship by investment scheme?

Vanuatu is the easiest to apply, fastest too. Approvals are issued within 3-4 weeks and passport takes another 2 weeks.

Which are the most popular Golden visa programs?

Portugal, Malta and Greece are the most popular golden visa programs at the moment.

How to get EU citizenship investing in real estate?

Portugal will give you EU citizenship after 5 years if you invest 280,000 euro in real estate through the Portuguese golden visa program. It is the most popular program currently among many property investors.

Are applications accepted despite Covid situation?

Yes, all the CBI and RBI programs are open despite Covid lockdowns. Applications can be submitted electronically to migration authorities.

What are the current processing times?

The Processing times for CBI is about 3-4 months. For Golden visa programs, you should allow 4-8 months to complete.  For some programs, you are required to take a trip within one year for providing biometrics to receive your residence permit.

How passports are delivered?

Once your file is approved and all formalities are completed, you can easily collect passport and citizenship certificate at the nearest embassy/consulate where you live.