The concept of citizenship by investment has been around since 1984 when St. Kitts & Nevis became the first nation to offer fast-track passports to wealthy investors.
The industry received greater visibility when Canada and the USA introduced programs offering permanent residence to rich investors instead of direct citizenship.
The 2008 global economic crisis sparked another boon for the investment immigration industry, for both countries offering programs and wealthy individuals considering becoming candidates.
For countries, such programs served as a reliable source of foreign capital at a time when conventional sources dried up. For wealthy individuals from all over the world, investment immigration offered a route to a better life for themselves and their children, greater security, access to investment opportunities, and visa-free access to many countries.
Today, several nations offering such programs, meaning candidates have to compare the options to make the best choice. Read ahead for an overview of some popular programs guaranteeing citizenship and permanent residence to some of the most developed nations in the world.
Buying your way to permanent residence in the UK is expensive. The minimum investment is £2 million combined with additional physical presence requirements. If you choose the £2million investment option, then you and your family members must reside in the country for at least 180 days per year for five years to qualify for permanent residence. Investing £6million reduces this time period to two years.
Of course, the advantages of PR include the right to live, work, or study in one of the most developed nations of the world. However, Britain’s exit from the EU makes this less attractive for investors.
Malta is one of few nations that has two different investment immigration programs – one offering direct citizenship and the other offering permanent residence. The Immigrant Investment Program offers the Maltese passport for a minimum investment of €1 million. This includes the minimum investment for the applicant, spouse and children, plus a further €150,000 investment and property purchase of at least €350,000 after approval.
Maltese citizenship automatically makes you a citizen of the EU, which means you gain the right to live not just in Malta but in all other EU nations.
This is why Malta’s IIP as well as the permanent residence program, which requires property purchase of €225,000 to €250,000 or lease of property for at least €8,750 to 9,600 per year, are extremely popular.
Cyprus offers its passport to international investors provided they invest at least €2 million. Like Malta, citizenship of this country leads to automatic EU citizenship. The benefits of this program include fast-track processing and no physical residence requirements. The candidate must hold the investment for at least three years.
Netherlands does not offer direct citizenship through its golden visa program. Yet, it is not as expensive as the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa. The Netherlands Foreign Investor Residence Permit is available to those investing at least €125,000 in a company in the country. Further, your investment must add value to the Dutch economy, by adding jobs or knowledge and innovation.
St Kitts & Nevis
Deriving 25 per cent of its GDP from its citizenship by investment program, St. Kitts & Nevis has a vibrant and popular program. Recently, the country became the first nation to use investment immigration to generate money for funding costs of recovery from recent hurricanes.
Investors can choose between buying property worth at least $400,000 or contributing $250,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund.
The benefits of holding the St. Kitts & Nevis passport include visa-free access to more than 100 nations, plus access to a liberal tax regime with no taxes on gifts, wealth, foreign income, inheritance. There is no capital gains tax and no physical residence requirement.
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