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Citizenship by investment: how to get a second passport in no time

PUBLISHED: 18 August 2020

Citizenship by investment programs are ideal for wealthy people who want to get second passport fast and at a reasonable price. First program started operating in 1984 on the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Back then, a year after becoming independent and in such a need for investment, St. Kittitians would not have thought that their idea would become so popular.

As of mid-2019, there are at least 12 Citizenship by investment programs in the world,  in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and even Middle East. If you want to invest in a second passport, a choice can be very challenging. This is where this article can come very handy.

Why invest in citizenship?

If you look closely, you will notice that countries offering passports to investors do not normally have a lot of natural resources or heavy engineering industry. Their wealth mainly relies on tourism, infrastructure projects and international companies attracted by a favourable tax regime. All these sectors need influx of money from outside through purchases of real estate, business investments or non-refundable contributions into government funds.

Почему инвестировать в гражданство выгодно

 

Benefits of second passport

Citizenship schemes are win-win solutions. In return for your money, the government will give you a passport with the following opportunities:

  1. To travel almost anywhere in the world without a visa including EU, UK and South-East Asia. Number of visa-waiver agreements is always growing.
  2. To benefit from a tax regime that is favourable both for personal tax planning and for tax optimisation of international companies registered in the country.
  3. To live in a safe environment, with economic and political stability. To have access to developed infrastructure, high standards of healthcare and education.
  4. To build and develop a business in a pro-business environment with state support, tax benefits and more.
  5. To get a passport without learning a language or customs and history of the country.

Immigration lawyers at Imperial & Legal can offer several Citizenship by investment programs in different jurisdictions. We will talk about them in detail.

Caribbean passport

Citizenship by investment on one of the Caribbean islands that form part of the Commonwealth, has the following unique advantages:

  1. Caribbean passport is much cheaper than citizenship by investment in Europe with comparable travel and business opportunities.
  2. It is a legal requirement to make an application through a licensed agent which makes it easier, faster, more reliable and you don’t even have to leave your house.
  3. Mild taxation regime for Caribbean residents. Almost every country does not tax wealth, capital gains, dividends and foreign income; in some countries there is no income tax at all.

How to invest in second citizenship in the Caribbean

There are two popular options of investing in a Caribbean passport, to make a one-off non-recoverable donation to a state fund or invest in an approved real estate project, off-plan or finished.

First option is ideal for those who do not want to spend time managing their purchase. Besides, a fund contribution is much less than real estate investment. However, if you buy a flat or a share in a hotel, you can sell it in 3-5 years and return your money, maybe with a gain. Until then you will have your own apartment for a couple of weeks per year in a tropical paradise.

второе гражданство на Карибах

Which country to invest in?

For your convenience we have made a table of Caribbean states that offer citizenship by investment programs, with pros and cons of each one of them. Things to consider: size of your family, refundable or non-refundable investment and extra costs. This will help you choose the best option for you.

Country Key advantages Investment options for getting second passport
St. Kitts & Nevis

Fast-track option – get your passport in 1.5-2 months

No income tax, no inheritance and gift tax, no capital gains tax

Visa-free travel to 156 countries including EU and UK

$150,000 – contribution to Sustainable Growth Fund

$200,000 – purchase of a share in real estate

Dominica

Most affordable solution for a single applicant

Recover your money in 3 years with investment in real estate

Visa-free travel to 143 countries including EU and UK

$100,000 – donation to Economic Diversification Fund

$200,000 – investment in properties

Grenada

Invest in real estate and get your money back in 3 years

Visa-free travel or visa on arrival with 144 countries including UK, China and EU

Apply for an Е2 work visa to the USA

$150,000 – contribution to National Transformation Fund

$220,000 – purchase of a property, whole or a share

Saint Lucia

Another great option for an investor without a family

Travel without a visa to 146 countries including Europe and UK

Apply for family members later

$100,000 – donation to National Economic Fund

$300,000 – property investment

$1,000,000 – business investment

Аntigua and Barbuda

Most affordable solution for a big family

No income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and wealth tax

Visa-free entry to 151 countries

$100,000 – contribution to National Development Fund

$200,000 – purchase of a share in real estate

$400,000 – joint investment in properties

$150,000 – non-refundable donation to UWI Education Fund

You must have noticed that we do not include any fees in the right column that an investor would have to pay on top of the investment. The amount of extra expenses depends on the type of investment and number of applicants. A big family will cost you more. To learn how much you will need to obtain a second passport for yourself and/or your family, get in touch with our citizenship experts.

Преимущества европейского паспорта

European passport

There are a few countries in Europe that secure money for their economies through investment programs. A European passport will cost you more, take longer to prepare the required documents and obtain citizenship and in most cases you will need to move to the country and live there.

Benefits of a European passport

Regardless of anything, European citizenship by investment programs are reliable and popular. Most of the time you will get an EU passport with all benefits it come with such as visa-free regime with many countries, right to live in and EU country, access to world-class education and healthcare. Besides, it will be easier to open a bank account in any EU and Swiss bank, even being a non-resident. For some of you Europe is closer to home.

Where to invest in Europe

Let’s have a look at European jurisdictions that offer their citizenship by investment programs, Malta, Cyprus and Montenegro, with the latter having just recently launched its scheme.

Country Key advantages Required investment excluding fees and charges
Malta

Visa-free access to 184 countries including USA

European standards of healthcare and education

Beneficial taxation for businesses

Right to live and work in any EU country

From €840,000 including:

€750,000* – government contribution

€700,000 – purchase or rent of real estate (rent from €16,000 a year) for at least 5 years

€10,000 – donation

Cyprus

Travel without visa to 174 countries

Citizenship in 6 months

Low corporation tax rate, no foreign income tax

You can return part of invested money in 5 years

Investment starts at €2,150,000 including:

€150,000 – 2 non-refundable donations

€500,000 – purchase of a home for life

€1,500,000 – investment in real estate, business or financial assets

Montenegro

Most affordable citizenship by investment program in Europe

124 countries without a visa

Passport in 6 months

Mild tax regime

€350,000 including:

€100,000 – contribution to a state fund

€250,000 – investment in real estate projects

*We are taking the amount of government contribution that buys you a Maltese passport in a year. If you can wait to get an EU passport in 3 years, you will need to pay €600,000.

If the Montenegrin minimum of €350,000 still seems too much for you, there is an alternative to a European passport – residence in Europe.

Получение европейского ВНЖ за инвестиции

European residence by investment

Malta, Portugal, Latvia, Montenegro and other countries offer their own residence by investment schemes.

Latvia or Portugal Golden Visa will cost you significantly less than European passport, but it will also take much longer till you get naturalised, in average 5-7 years. If you have time and are ready to move to the country, then one of these programs is for you. You can learn more about them on our website.

How to get British passport?

It is not that UK economy desperately needs foreign investment; however, for the last few years it has been in the top 5 investment destinations of the world. Great Britain does not have any special government program that would give you a British passport in 3-6 months in return for your contribution to the economy, but they do have an Investor visa that offers certain perks.

If you invest at least £2,000,000 in local business, you are free to do what you want in the UK, you don’t have to speak the language to apply and you almost have no restrictions. If you learn the language and pass a Life in the UK test, in 2-5 years of continuously living in the UK, you can apply for permanent residence, and in 5-6 years – for British citizenship.

Experienced immigration lawyers at Imperial & Legal would be happy to give you advice on any matter in relation to residence and citizenship by investment programs and work out the best solution for your needs and budget.

FAQ about second citizenship by investment

Which European country offers investors the best opportunities to participate in a citizenship program?

Today there is neither a wide choice of countries, nor a great number of investment options under European citizenship by investment programs.

If you want to obtain a European passport, your almost single option will be to obtain Malta citizenship on a fast-track basis. The investment in the economy of Malta starts at €1,310,000 per applicant. According to the procedure, first you must apply for residence permit and in three years you may apply for naturalisation.

If you don’t feel like waiting that long, you can obtain Montenegro citizenship by investment twice as fast as this – only in 6 months. The minimum investment in the economy of Montenegro is also not so high, it is €372,000 per person including all additional costs. Although Montenegro is not a member of the European Union, its citizens may enter the Schengen zone without any visa.


Under citizenship programs of what countries is it possible to obtain citizenship by investment remotely?

There are 4 Caribbean jurisdictions which offer citizenship by investment programs remotely and an applicant would not even need to visit their new country of nationality to swear allegiance or to fulfill bureaucratic procedures. These 4 are St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia.

To get a Caribbean passport without leaving your house is possible because of two specific traits of investment programs in the region:

  1. Caribbean governments do not consider citizenship by investment programs as a way to increase the countries’ population. Although usually your new country of nationality proves to be a comfortable place for living and vacation, new citizens tend not to come to live in the Caribbean islands.
  2. Cooperation with immigration authorities in charge of citizenship by investment programs is only possible with the help of an agent – a law firm authorised by the Government to prepare documents of an applicant and even to perform initial background checks on a client. That not only allows remote processing, but also helps to minimise refusals.

One might say that citizenship by investment on a relatively remote basis is possible in the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda, where an investor only needs to spend 5 days in the country during the first five years since citizenship is granted.
  • Montenegro, where all the necessary procedures may be performed remotely, and an investor needs to visit the country only for 1-2 days to submit biometrics and to get the passport.

Economic citizenship of what country gives investor the best possibilities to travel the world?

According to the Henley Passport index, citizens of Malta have visa-free access (or simplified access) to 184 countries, including the EU countries, the UK, Canada and the USA.

In other words, a passport of the Republic of Malta gives more opportunities of travelling the world without visas than a passport of any other jurisdiction, where economic citizenship by investment may be granted relatively fast.


Which countries have the minimum investment requirements under their citizenship by investment programs?

Once again former British colonies offer the best opportunities. Caribbean passport tends to cost less than economic citizenship in Europe.

Minimum non-refundable investment to obtain citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Saint Lucia is only $100,000, additional costs not included. The more dependants are included in your application, the more you will have to pay, but you will still have to pay less than to get citizenship in Europe.


What are best options of obtaining European citizenship for those who are prepared to wait several years?

If the possibility to obtain second citizenship in 4-12 months is not crucial for you, you have 2 favorable options to consider.

  1. Malta citizenship by investment
    For those who apply for citizenship three years after obtaining residence permit the minimum investment in the National Development and Social Fund is €150,000 less, so minimum naturalisation investment requirement per investor will be €1,310,000 , administration fee included.
  2. Investment in British citizenship
    Although there are no special programs included into the UK immigration legislation for those who invest in the British economy, foreign investors can still receive better opportunities.
    If you have invested the minimum of £2 million in stocks and shares of British companies, you may obtain UK investor visa without having to pass an English language test and a Life in the UK test. After 2-5 years of continuous residence in the UK you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom, and in 5-6 years you can apply for a UK passport.

Whatever route of investment in second citizenship you choose, legal services of well-qualified experts of Imperial & Legal will make the processing as fast and easy as possible and help you to avoid unexpected costs or time-wasting.

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