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Citizenship guide
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Residence by investment

Imperial & Legal – your guide to residence by investment programs

There is no doubt that you have already come across countries that offer citizenship by investment, and most of them are in the Caribbean. Generally, they do not require applicants to reside in the country prior to the application. However, there are many countries that offer residence by investment programs instead of citizenship by investment programs. A residence by investment program is a process that requires a foreign national to invest in another country in order to gain residence there. That foreign investor is then entitled to take up residence in that country and after a certain number of years apply for permanent residence. Permanent residence in its turn, subject to certain conditions, can entitle foreign citizens to citizenship by naturalisation in the country that offers residence by investment.

Basically, residence by investment programs go side by side with citizenship by investment programs, where eventually permanent residence also leads to citizenship, but it takes time, requires physical residence in the country for a certain period of time and a permanent residence card.

What is temporary and permanent residence?

Temporary residence is a status granted to a foreign citizen giving them the right to stay in a country for a limited period of time. It can be either in the form of a visa or temporary residence permit. A temporary resident can legally reside and work, study or do business in the country, depending on the type of a visa, without becoming a full citizen. A residence by investment program is another way of obtaining temporary and permanent residence when you are required to invest in a country of your future residence.

Temporary residence permit is normally granted for one or two years, subject to renewal either annually or every two years. After a period of legal and continuous residence in the country, generally 5 years, a foreign investor can apply for a permanent residence permit, provided other requirements are met. Permanent residence status offers foreign citizens almost identical rights as to the citizens of the residence-by-investment country. Permanent residents can reside, work, study wherever they want without any time restrictions.

Residence by investment programs

If you wish to know which countries offer residence by investment programs to foreign investors, Imperial & Legal will be happy to provide information and advice based on your requirements and needs. The number of countries that offer residence by investment programs and the number of investment options in exiting programs are constantly increasing.

We provide support and advice for the following residence by investment programs

Minimum investment
€400,000
Processing time
1-3 weeks
Passport in 1 year under the Citizenship by Investment Program
Minimum investment
€250,000
Processing time
3-6 months
Get permanent residence in 5 years and citizenship in 6 years.
Minimum investment
€500,000
Processing time
1 year
Get permanent residence in 5 years and citizenship in 10 years.
Minimum investment
€50,000
Processing time
3-4 months
Get permanent residence in 5 years and citizenship in 10 years.
Minimum investment
£1,750,000
Processing time
4-6 weeks
Get permanent residence in 5 years and citizenship in 6 years.
Minimum investment
£200,000
Processing time
4-6 weeks
Get permanent residence in 5 years and citizenship in 6 years.
Minimum investment
€350,000
Processing time
3-8 months
Get permanent residence in 3 years and citizenship in 5 years.
Minimum investment
CHF 0
Processing time
3-4 months
Get permanent residence in 10 years and citizenship in 12 years.
Minimum investment
C$200,000
Processing time
46 months
Get citizenship in 5 years.

For more detailed information on each residence by investment program, please refer to corresponding pages.

What are the reasons to invest in permanent residence?

A residence by investment program is usually an easier and faster way of getting a second residence in a country of your choice. Besides, permanent residence is a ticket to citizenship for life for you and your family.

Everyone has their own reasons to invest in permanent residence. People choose to invest in second residence to increase their worldwide mobility and benefit from high living standards and high level of education and healthcare. Ultra-high and high net worth individuals choose to acquire residence by investment to protect their assets, provide better life for their families and benefit from 100% confidentiality and privacy offered by investment programs in most countries.

Worldwide mobility

There is no doubt that a passport of a citizen will offer you visa-free access to many more countries across the globe than permanent residence status in that country. However, good news is, most of the countries that offer residence by investment programs are part of the European Union, for example Spain, Latvia, Belgium, etc. It means that permanent residence in these countries allows visa-free mobility throughout all Schengen states which currently stand at 26 countries.

Permanent residence makes it easier for you and your family to travel for business or leisure. It saves you a lot of time, stress and money when you need to travel abroad. Another good thing about permanent residence that many investors tend to overlook is that it eventually leads to citizenship. It does take time and certain discipline on your part, but it’s worth to invest in permanent residence with the view of becoming a global citizen.

Quality of life

Most of the countries that offer residence through investment programs are characterised by high living standards, excellent quality of education and healthcare. Permanent residence guarantees personal security, economic and political stability and low crime rate.

Residence for the whole family

Residence by investment programs offer residence to eligible family members. Their applications are tied to that of the main applicant, and citizenship applications can be also made together. Permanent residents have access to world-class healthcare and educational institutions.

Business

Countries that offer residence by investment programs are modern, open and highly developed economies providing tax incentives and low operating costs for businesses as well as highly skilled, multilingual and productive workforce.

Tax optimisation

Some countries do not have inheritance, gift or capital gains taxes. For example, a foreign citizen that wants to become a resident in Switzerland can benefit from lump-sum taxation and decrease their tax burden. High net worth individuals that invest in permanent residence on Jersey are eligible to special taxation regime. Belgium offers expatriate income tax regime for foreign employees.

How do countries that offer residence by investment programs benefit from them?

The main reason for a country to offer a residence by investment program is to boost the economy with foreign investments. They aim to attract money, talent and experience, create jobs and tax revenues.

For example, funds generated under the Quebec investment program are used to benefit all Canada’s regions and to finance two business support programmes, Business Assistance—Immigrant Investor Program (BAIIP) and Employment Integration Program for Immigrants and Visible Minorities (PRIIME).

Requirements of the residence by investment programs

There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled under all residence by investment programs, such as legal source of funds for investment, clean criminal record and good health.

Most common investment options under almost any residence by investment program is Investor visa or Entrepreneur visa; they target wealthy and high net worth individuals. Examples of such programs are United Kingdom residence by investment program, Latvia residence by investment program and Belgium residence by investment program. In addition to the investment options above, Portugal offers residence by investment into real estate, Spain offers investment in real estate and financial assets, and Latvia offers investment by way of a deposit.

General requirements under an Investor visa program is availability of funds for investment and financial self-sufficiency without recourse to public funds. Besides, the investment must be maintained for a certain period or time, e.g. 2 to 5 years under the United Kingdom residence by investment program and 5 years under the Canada residence by investment program. However, the positive side of this requirement is that the investment can be recovered after the end of the holding period.

Main requirements of an Entrepreneur visa program are relevant education, work and business experience, a valid business plan, availability of funds for investment, financial self-sufficiency and knowledge of the official language of the country that offers residence by investment program.

Other requirements include a personal visit (e.g. Portugal residence by investment program, Belgium residence by investment program), purchase or rent of an accommodation (e.g. Guernsey residence by investment program, Latvia residence by investment program) or the ability to generate a minimum amount of tax revenues per year (Jersey High Value Residency program).

Every residence by investment program offers residence and eventually citizenship to family members of the main applicant based on their eligibility and age, and these requirements differ from program to program, from country to country.

Only when all the requirements are met by the main applicant and their family members under the residence by investment program, the government of the country that offers residence by investment will be able to process and approve the application for residence.

More information about residence by investment programs

The first residence by investment program was launched in 1986 in Canada. Canada used to offer federal immigrant investor programs, but they have been recently terminated. Instead, Quebec offers Investor program, Entrepreneur program and Self-Employed Worker program which are regional immigration program for foreign investors and businessmen.

United Kingdom residence by investment program, Tier 1 Investor visa, is also one of the oldest residence by investment programs in the world. It was launched in 1994. At the moment, a foreign investor has a choice to invest either £2,000,000, £5,000,000, £10,000,000 or more and get permanent residence in 5, 3 or 2 years correspondingly.

One of the most recent residence by investment programs are Latvia residence by investment program (2010), Portugal residence by investment program (2012), Spain residence by investment program (2013), Malta residence by investment program (2014) and Montenegro residence by investment program (2018).

Residence and citizenship planning from Imperial & Legal

Imperial & Legal works on the global market providing citizenship and residence advice and services to our clients. We support high net worth individuals and their families in obtaining permanent residence and second passport in a country of their choice.

We strongly believe in offering our valued customers only bespoke and personal advice, that’s why we know which investment program for permanent residence or citizenship is best for you and your family. Be it increased global mobility, beneficial taxation or security, there is a program and a country for you.

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