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Everything you need to know about citizenship and residence programs around the globe.
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In the current world climate, many people are forced to leave their countries running away from wars and conflicts. This is a completely different scenario and we are not going to focus on that in our article. We are going to talk about immigration by choice when you are lucky to have been born in a peaceful country but choose to emigrate because of personal reasons.
We all prefer living in a politically and economically stable environment, we want to enjoy high standards of living, we want to give our children good education and opportunities in life, we all want to do business on high-potential markets. Here are just a few opportunities that relocation to another country can give you and reasons why people choose to do it this big step.
Some governments are less welcoming to immigrants than others. If you think about it, it is usually due to the fact that they have too many migrants already or their economies are strong enough to do without them. Good examples of such countries are the USA, Germany or France. You will struggle to get a residence permit unless you are a highly qualified specialist, scientist, artist or someone the market demands.
There are many jurisdictions that do not turn their back to migrants and some that are even fighting for them. We have summarised the most attractive of the countries that are worth considering for your immigration purposes.
You can apply for a residence permit, permanent residence or second passport under residence by investment or citizenship by investment programs that are offered to foreign investors in return for their contribution to local economies. In Europe, such programs operate in Malta, Cyprus, Montenegro, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, UK, Austria and Switzerland. Other popular jurisdictions are Canada and several Caribbean states, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis.
If you are not prepared to spend millions of Euro for a Maltese or Cypriot passport, you might want to look for cheaper options. Latvia is one of the most affordable residence programs in the world. Besides, it is part of the EU, has a stable economy, low cost of living and beautiful nature.
All you need to do is to invest at least €250,000 in real estate under the Latvia Golden Visa program and you will get your residence permit in 1-3 months. You will be able to travel visa-free to Schengen states and live in Latvia with your family. In 5 years, if you pass a language test and comply with other requirements, you can apply for Latvia permanent residence and in 10 years, you might be eligible for a European passport. As an EU national you will have the right to live, work and study anywhere in Europe.
This is the fastest and cheapest way to a European passport – after 6 months of applying for Montenegro citizenship by investment you can become citizen without even speaking the language. You will be required to invest not less than €350,000 a big part of which can be later returned. Montenegro is not part of the EU yet, but they use euro and you can travel without a visa around Europe with a Montenegro passport.
What if your first passport has a low passport index rating and it is not many countries that you can visit visa-free. What if you love travelling or have a business that you want to grow internationally? If you need to go to Europe, UK, Singapore, USA and other business hubs quite often, visa applications can become a headache. We have a perfect solution.
Former British colonies on the tropical islands are hungry for foreign investments and ready to offer their citizenship to wealthy investors on special terms. It takes 3 to 6 months to obtain a Caribbean passport or, if you use fast-track option that is offered by St. Kitts & Nevis, you will get citizenship for the whole family in 45-60 days!
Let’s have a look at all advantages and benefits that Caribbean jurisdictions can offer to you. The five main ones are Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda.
If you are looking for simple and transparent conditions in which to grow business, tax benefits, huge markets and trust from partners and suppliers, the United Kingdom is your best destination.
UK Immigration Rules have no special fast-track programs for citizenship; however, they do have a few visa categories that would suit wealthy people and entrepreneurs. You can get a UK residence permit by investing at least £50,000 (Innovator visa) or £2,000,000 (Investor visa) in UK-registered companies. Maximum in 5 years and minimum in 2-3 tears of living in the UK, you can apply for permanent residence (also called settlement or ILR). In 5-6 years of living in the country you can get naturalised and apply for a British passport.
Spain and Switzerland also offer good schemes for entrepreneurs. Malta and Cyprus are well-known tax havens that could work for companies trading outside the country of incorporation. All jurisdictions offer residence by investment in return for your contribution to a local economy.
We have a more detailed article about immigration destinations here.
Immigration lawyers at Imperial & Legal will be happy to help you choose a country for relocation based on your needs, support you in your visa application, obtaining permanent residence and citizenship of that country.
Firstly, they are not desperate to attract foreign investments. Secondly, because of refugees flocking there from Middle East and Africa, European governments toughen immigration requirements for everyone, including economic migrants. As a result, naturalisation process in Western Europe can take as long as 10 to 12 years and you might be asked to rescind your first nationality.
If you have been hearing stories of people immigrating to Europe, did you wonder how they did it? If it was a repatriation program and you have no connections to a country of your choice, check how long it is going to take to get permanent residence there.
There are countries that offer a special immigration status to foreigners who come to work or make another type of financial contribution.
The United Kingdom is one of these countries; it offers a visa for investors to relocate to Great Britain even without speaking English if they are prepared to invest at least £2 million in share capital of UK-registered companies. Business visas usually have more stringent requirements. However, both investors and entrepreneurs can apply for an indefinite leave to remain, or ILR, in a couple of years and in 5-6 years of living in the country get British passport.
Latvia, Spain, Portugal, Montenegro and Malta offer Golden Visa programs which is a residence permit granted in return for investment. Similar scheme operates in Switzerland where you can get a residence permit in exchange for lump-sum tax.
In Malta, after a year of residency you can make a sizeable contribution to the economy and apply for Malta citizenship by investment. A Montenegro passport is 6 months faster to get.
It all boils down to what you want to achieve by moving to a foreign country.
If you are after a quiet and comfortable living somewhere in Europe, invest in real estate in Latvia to be able to live there.
If you need EU citizenship faster, apply for Malta citizenship by investment. Is it too expensive, but you still need a European passport? You might want to consider Montenegro, a small Adriatic country with a potential to become an EU member.
If you want to live in developed Western European counties and are ready to wait before you can apply for EU passport, invest in residency of Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland.
If you are an ambitious entrepreneur and are looking for more than just high living standards, invest in a UK visa and you will benefit from business opportunities of the world’s financial hub at the crossroads of international trade routes.
Caribbean passport programs can be a great solution in this case. They are cheaper than European citizenship schemes while offering similar business, tax optimisation and visa-free opportunities. Saint Kitts and Nevis passport is your ticket to 156 countries.
With a Caribbean passport you do not need a visa to Schengen states and you can stay there for up to 90 days. You can live for up to 180 days in the UK and your children will be able to enrol in British colleges and universities on special terms.
The Caribbean is also a tax haven for international companies. Tax residents do not pay a lot of taxes – there is no income tax in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda and no stamp duty in Dominica and Grenada.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
Visas to the UK
Second passport by investment
Residence by investment
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