Citizenship by Investment (CBI) schemes offer fast track passports for investments, whereas Golden visas (GV) grant long term residency for investments. The two sectors has created a new investment immigration industry is $30 billion annual market in Americas, Middle East, Caribbean and Europe and is expected to reach $100 billion in the next decade.
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. A significant number of wealthy families think about citizenship and residence planning abroad for the future. A Plan B citizenship or residency has become quintessential for the post pandemic war-torn and chaotic world, with unexpected consequences.
Here are the some quick summary of the events unfolded this year
- Montenegro CBI is closed effective from Jan 1, 2023
- United Kingdom has rescinded visa free access to Dominica and Vanuatu.
- Portugal announces closing applications for golden visa program. Last applications until May/Jun 2023 is valid until (officially law to come into effect). (We offer last minute fast track application for last minute investors done in 2 weeks with 280,000 euro refundable hotel investment)
- Spain golden visa scheme is active and running with 500,000 euro property investment. The Government is considering whether to scrap this scheme soon or double the minimum investment.
- Vanuatu has launched IGBO Government bonds option for citizenship by investment starting from AUD 150,000. European Union (EU) has imposed full suspension of visa waiver agreement for Vanuatu nationals visiting the schengen area from May 2022 extended until Aug 4, 2024.
- St.Kitts & Nevis has announced big changes to CBI increasing the minimum donation to USD 250,000 and real estate to USD 400,000
- Saint Lucia extends CIP Bond offer for USD 300,000 replacing Covid relief bonds. New amendments to CIP regulations announced for 2023. Saint Lucia also reduced real estate investment to USD 200,000. St Lucia now issues biometric e-passports from 2022 to all new citizens, upgrading security of passports.
- Ireland has terminated the immigrant investor scheme from Feb 15, 2023
- United Kingdom have canceled their golden visa program (tier1 investor route) in 2020
- Greece has announced doubling the minimum investment to 500,000 euros in certain regions of Greece (athens, Mykonos, Thessaloniki, Santorini) from Aug 1, 2023. Other areas the investment will remain the same 250,000 euros.
- Bulgaria‘s citizenship by investment program is permanently canceled by government.
- Canada Quebec immigrant investor scheme suspended for review until April 2023.
- Turkey has increased the minimum property investment for citizenship by investment to USD 400,000
- New Zealand has made changes to Investor plus program requiring $5 million investment
Let us take a quick look into these schemes running in over 20 countries worldwide.
Top CBI Programs
We ranked three programs best citizenship by investment programs for three years
- Grenada – 2020 Winner
- St Lucia – 2021 Winner
- Dominica – 2022 Winner
- St Kitts & Nevis – 2023 Winner
Top Golden Visas
- Portugal (2021 Winner)
- Ireland (2020 winner)
- Greece (2019 Winner)
1. St.Kitts and Nevis
We have Ranked SKN as No.1 CBI for 2023. The Government has announced major reforms to the program in 2023.
The Cabinet of St Kitts and Nevis has announced a Special Limited time offer for families for 2023 for only six months ending on Jun 30, 2023. This unique offer gives USD 25,000 discount per application (only applies for SGF donation only). As per the offer you pay $175,000 for family of four, instead of $190,000 giving them huge savings. Under the Limited Time Offer, investment options for Sustainable Growth Fund (SFG) are as follows:
- Single applicant – US$ 250,000
- Main applicant and a spouse – US$300,000
- Main applicant, spouse and two dependants – US$350,000
- Each additional dependant under 18 – US$50,000
- Each additional dependant over 18 – US$75,000
Further all SGF applications automatically qualify for processing will be expedited to 120 days (instead of 90 days) without no additional fee.
No changes applicable to pricing for real estate option.
Now you can get St Kitts passport for buying residential and private homes above $400,000 after expansion of the CBI to include private homes (must hold for 5 years and next buyer wont be eligible for citizenship. The fourth option is alternative investment option which requires you to invest only $250,000 in approved projects. 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.
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.
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. It is undoubtedly a super-interesting and top class citizenship by investment program in the world. The following investment options are available to get instant citizenship in Saint Lucia. Be sure to know the actual citizenship costs before you apply.
- USD 100,000 Donation to National Fund
- USD 200,000 Real Estate Investment
- USD 300,000 National Government Bonds (new from 2023)
- USD 500,000 Government Bonds (no discount)
- USD 1.5 million (Business enterprise investment
Saint Lucia has announced key changes in CIP Amendments 2023. 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. It is also possible to invest $200,000 in two approved CIP hotels (Canelles resort and Alpina hotel) for St Lucia citizenship. You can sell the real estate shares after 5 years.
The Government Bonds is a very popular route for St Lucia citizenship investing $300,000 fully refunded after 5 years (citizenship is not lost) guaranteed by government without interest. A family with unlimited dependents can apply for citizenship without increasing the bond sum.
The Zero coupon treasury bonds issued by Government for are risk free investments. Since the entire bond sum is fully refunded by government without interest, the net costs for citizenship is less than $50,000 There is also a possibility for family of five to apply for $300,000 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 Bond investment option introduced special government bonds for $300,000 under limited time offer, this investment now reduced by 50% with slashing of fees. A family of 5 can apply paying $300,000 for bonds with no additional costs. Considering the entire bond sum is refunded back by government, the net costs for citizenship remains less than $60,000. That is even $12,000 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)
Portugal has the most successful and well managed efficiently golden visa scheme in Europe. The program never stopped receiving billions in investments.
- Note: PGV closing soon – Last GV applications may be filed until SEPTEMBER 2023 under fast track application (2 weeks)
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. Investing in Portuguese investment funds which require atleast 350k euro investment are also recoverable with returns.
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.
The current golden visa processing times have stretched to more than 10 months because of the backlog.
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. Portugal also increased capital transfer investments in bank deposit, government securities to 1.5 million euros from 2022 (increase by 500k euro)
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 also accept Bitcoin for Golden visa property investments.
Dominica remains the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean for 2020 driven by CBI revenues and tourism. Dominica is ranked Best Citizenship by investment program for 2022 for these solid reasons.
- Low cost and affordable Cbi program for families –
- New Visa waiver to China –
- Upgrading to Biometric passport strengthening security standards –
- Very good property market attractive to invest in hotels. –
- Very good use of CBI funds in sustainable development –
- Very good consulate assistance abroad for its citizens
Dominica announced new changes accepting iranian clients who lived outside Iran for more than 10 years and other restricted countries.
Dominica signed mutual visa waiver agreement with China on Nov 22, 2021 making Dominica passport, one of the most powerful passports in the Caribbean.
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). Be sure to know and understand the True costs of Dominica CBI
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)
The Commonwealth of Dominica opened in New embassy opened in United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen diplomatic relations and provides very good 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.
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 60 days if all documents are in order. Stateless people can apply for citizenship by investing. Ineligibility applies on Russia, Belarus, Iran nationals.
Vanuatu remains the easiest citizenship by investment program apply in 2021 in terms of difficult in application and paper work. Be sure to understand the true costs of Vanuatu citizenship program under the following routes.
- USD 130,000 Donation to Development Support Program (DSP) Fund (All countries)
- USD 130,000 Donation to Vanuatu Contribution Program Fund (VCP) (Limited to China and HK market)
- USD 175,000 Real Estate investment
- AUD 150,000 Government bonds (launched in 2023)
Government Bonds (IGBO)
No interest paid to investors. Additional processing fee apply
- Bond maturing in 36 months- AUD I50,000
- Bond maturing in 30 months- AUD 170,000; and
- Bond maturing in 24 months- AUD 180,000; and
Processing fee – USD 15,000
Due diligence fee – USD 5000
Application fee – USD 2000
Vanuatu has opened brand new Real Estate Option (REO) program as a third option for citizenship by investment. The regulations amending the citizenship passed in parliament and published in gazette. Investing atleast USD 175,000 in Government approved properties will qualify investors for citizenship.
The Vanuatu citizenship commission now accepts Oaths taken through video conferencing due to Covid-19 affects 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. To apply for Vanuatu CIP, you also have show additional proof of $250,000 in net assets or bank account to apply for Vanuatu DSP program. 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
7. Pure tax free country (no personal, wealth or inheritance tax)
Vanuatu may 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.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are accepted as proof for total assets requirement.
We 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 investor visa to gain entry into United States under non-immigrant status. Those who come from countries with non-e2 treaty can secondary benefit from Grenada passport. This is one of the best and exciting citizenship by investment schemes in the Caribbean. The donation and real estate options are both popular. Having said this the Grenada CBI can be slightly expensive for families. Be sure to evaluate all the costs before you apply.
- USD 150,000 Donation to National Fund
- USD 220,000 in Real Estate Development
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. 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 plus
7. Antigua & 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 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 does 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.
Montenegro CBI is closed from Jan 1, 2023. No applications are accepted
Montenegro can be an exciting country to invest considering its ambitions to join European Union in next five years and chapter negotiations are actively on with the EU. Another major pull factor is is Montenegro has the lowest property prices in Europe. 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. 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.
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, 2024 due to significant pending applications. This scheme is expected to reopen after this date.
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.
The Citizenship by investment for 2m euros remains permanently closed in Cyprus since 2020.
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 visa. 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.
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. It is the last officially running investor citizenship scheme in the EU.
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 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 assets 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.
The Turkish citizenship by investment (TCBI) scheme has surprisingly become the most popular and successful scheme in the world. As of 2020, close to 7000 foreign investors mostly from the Arab countries world have purchased properties in Turkey for citizenship.
New amendments to Turkish investment law from 2022, now requires investors to purchase USD 400,000 in properties converting to Turkish lira instead of foreign currency due to devaluation.
The following investments qualify for immediate citizenship in Turkey which includes residence permit, citizenship and passport. You can also apply for CBI program from Turkish consulates abroad.
- USD 400,000 Real estate
- USD 500,000 Government securities or Bonds
- USD 500,000 in Bank deposits.
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 citizenship’s granted
- 9000 applications in processing
13. North Macedonia
North Macedonia has opened a brand 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..
North Macedonia is a candidate country to join EU in the future and has both E-1 and E-2 treaty with United States. North Macedonia launched citizenship for investment initiative pursuant to laws in 2017. The following investment options are available
- Private Investment Fund – €200,000 euro invested for a period of 2 years
- Direct investment Fund– €5,000,000 euro attracting atleast 20 foreigners
Under the CIP regulations, you are required to invest €200,000 euro in a Government donation fund (taken back after 2 years) and €5,000,000 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.
14. 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.
This scheme is permanently closed by Home office. Alternatives for this scheme is Innovator visa and Startup visas introduced by Home office.
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 pounds 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.
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
Greece golden visa property investments will double from Aug 1, 2023. The 250,000 euros will still be available for investors who will deposit 10% of the property’s value by 30.04.2023 and complete the purchase by 31.12.2023. After this date the minimum investment will double to 500,000€ in particular areas Regional Units of Northern, Central and Southern Athens, in the Municipality of Vari – Voula – Vouliagmeni, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini.
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. 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. Remember Greece has mandatory military service to all citizens.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
16. 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.
Moldova CBI scheme is permanently closed from 2017
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.
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.
The Bulgaria CBI program is permanently closed from April 2022
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: Bulgaria is inching closer towards closing of golden passports program soon will be approved by parliament amidst EU pressure and to secure US visa waiver. Under the new 2021 amendments, 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.
Immigrant investor (IIP) scheme is closed from Feb 15, 2023
Ireland offers investment based residency to HNWIs and UHNWIs through the Irish immigrant investor programme. 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 an EU member state but has opted out of schengen area. This means you get EU citizenship from Ireland. Irish citizens are the only nationality in the world, with the right to live and work in both the European Union and the United Kingdom. The following investments qualify for irish stamp 4 permission equivalent to permanent residency. Ireland requires just 1 day residence requirement for investment.
- EUR 400,000 one time donation to charities
- EUR 1 million Investment funds (in real estate with 3-5% returns)
- EUR 2 million REIT (real estate trusts)
Ireland is the second best investment migration program in Europe taking second spot, according to Best Golden Visa 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 also 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. Note that
- 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.
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.
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
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 (UAE)
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. The UAE Golden visa program is very popular among foreigners who seek to become residents through buying a property.
Real estate – AED 2 million
Federal Tax – AED 250,000 per year
Investment fund – AED 2 million
- an entry visa for six months with multiple entries to proceed with residence issuance
- a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 5 or 10 years
- the privilege of not needing a sponsor
- the ability to stay outside the UAE for more than the usual period of six months in order to keep their residence visa valid
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. A Permanent residency program or Golden visa is also granted to investors who invest alteast $1 million in Seychelles.
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. There are also no taxes on capital gains from crypto investments.
41. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has been facing tough financial crisis aftermath of covid. To revive the economy this asian country has introduced Golden paradise visa program in 2022. It is now possible for foreigners to invest in property, bonds, bank deposit and business to receive a 10 year golden visa. Investments start from USD 100,000 onwards.
42. New Zealand
New Zealand has made changes to golden visa creating a “Investor plus” new route, replacing Investor 1 and Investor 2 visa categories to attract skilled and experienced high-value investors to New Zealand to encourage economic growth. Benefits include live, work, study in NZ, Investors will need to spend at least 117 days, or around a month a year, in New Zealand over the four-year investment period. Direct investments in properties are not allowed, closed to foreign investors.
- NZD $5 million (direct investment)
- NZD $15 million (indirect investment)
What’s new in 2023?
The Global demand and interest remains high for citizenship and residency programs. Rules have been simplified to include family members upto third generation. Streamlined Processing times have been reduced due to digital processing of applications.
Which is the easiest citizenship by investment scheme?
All countries require exhaustive documentation. St Kitts, Vanuatu are easy to apply. Approvals are issued within 3 months.
What documents are required?
Application forms, certified government issued documents (eg. passport, police certificate, birth certificate, marriage/divorce certificate. etc). Additional documents require proving source of funds and bank references.
What 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. Malta is another country to get citizenship after 2 years by investing close to 1 million euros.
Who cannot apply?
Nationals of countries under international sanctions (Russia, Belarus, Iran) cannot apply for Golden citizenship and residence programs.
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 to apply for passport?
Once your citizenship file is approved and all formalities are completed, you can easily collect passport and citizenship certificate at the nearest embassy/consulate where you live or your authorized agent/lawyer will hand them over to you.