Citizenship by investment (CBI) and residence by investment (RBI) schemes allow third-country nationals (TCN) to obtain residence or citizenship in a host country in exchange for a passive financial contribution that may include government bonds, real estate, or bank deposits. They are also known otherwise as investment migration programmes, immigrant investor programmes and economic citizenship programmes.

The global market for such schemes has increased over time and are in operation in more than 60 countries around the world. Mirroring this trend, four EU Member States had such schemes in 2011, compared with more than half the Member States today. Over the past 10 years, RBI and CBI schemes have emerged as an alternative pathway to residence and citizenship in certain EU Member States.

Global Market

According to EAVA study in 2021, in total, at least 130 000 persons have gained EU citizenship or residence, under investment schemes that have brought in over €21.8 billion between 2011 and 2019. The CBI schemes generated 7.4€ billion investments and RBI €18.8 billion according to research study by European Commission. A total of 42,180 applications were  received during this period for CBI and RBI schemes.

2011-2019 CBI RBI Total
Applications 3,811 38,369 42,180
Total  people (incl family members) 8,769 123,374 132,143
Investment (€, millions) 7,497 13,877 21,374

Research has found that applicants to CBI/RBI schemes are mainly very wealthy individuals from Russia, China, Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asian countries.

Covid Pandemic

The processing of investor visas and passports was moreover affected in all countries in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The effect on demand for such schemes is still unclear, but it is expected to increase worldwide. Some research suggests that interest in dual nationality and CBI as a pathway to its acquisition has increased since the pandemic.

This European added value assessment (EAVA) proposes new regulations such as EU level tax and more regulations on CBI/RBI schemes

The contribution of CBI/RBI schemes to the issuance of first-time residence permits and naturalisations in the Member States with the schemes. research has found that applicants to CBI/RBI schemes are mainly very wealthy individuals from Russia, China, Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asian countries.

Investment options

A range of investment options. For RBI schemes, investment in companies is the most commonly offered (11 Member States), followed by investment bonds (offered by 8 Member States) and real estate (offered by 8 Member States) (see Table). Applicants may also be subject to administrative fees and income thresholds.

Investment options Member States Total
Company BG, EE, EL, ES, IE, IT, LV, LU, MT, NL, PT 11
Investment Fund BG, EE, ES, IE, LU, LV, NL, PT 8
Real Estate BG, CY, EL, ES, IE, LV, MT, PT 8
Government bonds BG, ES, HU, IT, LV, MT, PT 7
Bank deposit BG, CY, ES, LU, LV, PT 6
Public good IE, IT, PT 3

The United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020. While a Member State, it hosted an RBI programme that began in 1994. The report excludes the UK from its analysis as its assessment is oriented to current Member States. In March 2017, Hungary (HU) ended its RBI program.

Motivation for CBI/RBI

The EU report has found the motivation to apply for CBI/RBI based on four main possibilities –

  • Mobility and international travel
  • Avoid geopolitical conflict
  • Lower barriers to carrying out business within the EU
  • ‘Plan B’ for the future
  • Educational opportunities for children
  • Holidays (real estate option)
  • Preservation of wealth – Diversify assets into a relatively stable currency
  • Tax avoidance


A passport of an EU Member State can facilitate visa-free access travel to a high number of countries both within and beyond the EU, as well as provide a ‘Plan B’ should there be political or social unrest in the individual’s country of origin. Although in relatively smaller numbers, stateless people with financial means have resorted to CBIs.

Beneficiaries of RBI schemes can enter the EU without applying for a visa. This is relevant in the case of nationals from Russia and China, the primary source countries for RBI schemes in the EU who cannot enter the EU without a Schengen visa

Financial secrecy

Luxembourg, Netherlands, Malta rank high on financial secrecy index with CBI/RBI schemes. Countries in Blue, such as Germany does not have CBI or CBI.

Financial secrecy index

Source: Surak, Citizenship and Residence Schemes — State of Play and Avenues for EU Action.