Over the past few years, several countries have launched residency or citizenship programs in return for a lump sum in investment. However, the programs can be quite complicated, and the residency permits are not so easy to obtain. Some of the countries that have been offering these programs include Spain, Australia, Singapore, Belgium, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.
Besides the above, there are countries that are now competing to provide the most easily attainable residence permits or citizenships to attract wealthy foreigners. Below is a list of some of the most notable countries where you can attain full citizenship if you have enough cash:
Hungary’s citizenship for investment program was started in 2012 when their immigration law was amended to allow foreigners to acquire Hungarian citizenship by investing a minimum of $322,600 in special government bonds. An advantage offered by this program is that it does not require wealthy foreigners to purchase property in the country to be eligible for citizenship, as is required by some other countries offering similar programs.
The citizenship or residency allows the investors to travel visa free in the Schengen countries of the European Union. It is estimated that this program will help Hungary recover part of its foreign currency debt worth billions of dollars.
Dominica offers a citizenship for investment program as part of its efforts to raise essential capital for economic development. Under this program, an individual needs to invest a minimum of $100,000 to get citizenship. It also allows for the spouse of the main applicant to apply for citizenship by paying an additional $75,000.
The official website of Dominican government provides detailed information and guidelines about this program. It states that applicants “must be of outstanding character” in order to qualify for citizenship. However, under the program, they are not required to actually reside in the country to be eligible for citizenship.
Malta started its citizenship by investment program in 2013, offering citizenship for $865,000. However due to protests by the opposition, the price of citizenship was raised to $1.57 million. Moreover, applicants are now required to reside in the country for a certain duration in order to qualify.
Malta lies in the heart of the Mediterranean, an island south of Sicily, known for its beautiful seaside and good weather. This in addition to the country’s membership of the EU makes it an attractive destination for wealthy foreigners, who can enjoy visa free travel to Schengen countries on a Maltese passport.
Grenada markets its citizenship by focusing more on its natural beauty rather than on the investment requirement, with their official investment immigration website specifically encouraging potential investors to explore the beauty of Grenada’s landscape and culture.
To get citizenship in Grenada, an individual needs to invest at least $311,750 in various company shares as specified by the government. This figure is inclusive of all legal and passport fees.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St.Kitts and Nevis offers one of the oldest citizenship by investment programs in the world. Their application process is very simple, with the application forms being only three-pages long. The sections asking for proposed source of income and approximate annual income are actually larger than the section asking the applicant for his/her reason to acquire St Kitts citizenship.
Anyone who wants to apply for citizenship in this beautiful Caribbean island can do so by either paying $250,000 into the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or investing at least $400,000 in a property development.
Antigua and Barbuda
Directly competing with St. Kitts and Nevis is the neighboring Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, which offers citizenship through either a $400,000 investment in property or a $200,000 charitable donation in the country. And while critics of the program have said that this program is quite liable to be abused by criminals and terrorists, government officials have been quite vocal in their defense of the program and their applicant screening process.
In addition to the above programs, there are countries which sell citizenships for political reasons too. For instance, in the Middle East, the oil-rich country of Kuwait is offering citizenship to several thousand people from nomadic tribes of Bidoon. The catch here is that the citizenship offered is not of Kuwait; rather the government is planning to pay the island country of Comoros to give these stateless people citizenships. As an added incentive, they will also be allowed to stay in Kuwait, where they will have access to free health care, education, and job opportunities.
Comoros had passed its Economic Citizenship Act in 2008, under which it can sell its citizenship to wealthy foreign nationals. It is estimated that Comoros has already generated $200 million from this program. Whether or not it will honor Kuwait’s proposal remains to be seen.