So you’ve decided you want a second citizenship. One of the quickest and most accessible ways to do so is by acquiring a second citizenship through a reputable Citizenship by Investment Programme. These programmes not only allow you to receive citizenship in three to six months, they can improve your tax efficiency, and provide you with a passport that allows greater visa free travel to sought after countries.
Citizenship by Investment Programmes take the hassle out of getting citizenship for those who are of good character and have the means to apply to them. These are essentially citizenship by investment programmes instituted and managed by a country’s government as a means of generating necessary foreign investment in their economies. These governments allow interested persons of various nationalities to invest in economic funds, government bonds, new businesses, or approved real estate projects in exchange for their citizenships.
There are currently 15 Citizenship by Investment Programmes worldwide. The oldest of these belong to the Caribbean islands of St. Kits and Nevis, and Dominica. Both have programmes that are over 25 years old. These Programmes provide a fast track to becoming naturalised in another country. Whereas investing in a Residence by Investment Programme like the EB-5 programme of the USA, requires you to live in the country for a long period of time before applying for citizenship, these programmes allow you to apply right away. To qualify however, individuals must be of sound character, in good health, without a criminal record, and have the means to facilitate the investment.
Different Citizenship by Investment Programmes follow different polices. There are programmes, which forbid certain nationalities from applying for their citizenship. St. Kitts & Nevis’ programme, for instance, forbids applicants from Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. Similarly, Antigua & Barbuda’s programme forbids applicants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. On the contrary, the Citizenship by Investment Programme of Dominica imposes no restrictions on nationalities and judges each file on a case by case basis. Be sure to start your evaluations by looking at programmes that accept nationals from your country.
All Citizenship by Investment Programmes conduct thorough due diligence checks on applicants, who apply for citizenship from their countries. In Dominica, for instance, four international due diligence firms are employed to run vigorous background checks in every country an applicant has lived in for more than six months in the past ten years. These checks usually involve on the ground assessments via interviews with key stakeholders, as well as secondary research evaluating key international lists, like money laundering lists and terrorists lists. This assessment is used to determine the character and integrity of the applicant to verify whether he/she is worthy of becoming a citizen of the country. If you’ve been convicted of a serious crime, then seeking to obtain a second citizenship through a Citizenship by Investment Programme probably isn’t the best way to acquire a second citizenship, and may become an exercise in futility for your cause.
Visa-free access is a key benefit of having a second citizenship. European programmes, such as those offered by Malta and Cyprus, provide greater visa-free travel than Caribbean island programmes, such as that of Grenada and Dominica. However, these come at considerably higher price tags. Where a citizenship investment in real estate in Dominica will start at $200,000, obtaining citizenship from Cyprus by investing in real estate could cost a whopping €2.0 million. Though increased visa-free access is important, it may be to your benefit to evaluate the list of countries that cause passports to differ in strength and determine if the countries approved by the more expensive programmes are actually countries you would be interested in traveling to.
If acquiring a second citizenship is a time sensitive matter for you, then obtaining one from a Caribbean island programme would be a better fit for you than that of a European programme. A passport from Cyprus takes six months to process. A Maltese passport can take even longer as these can only be approved after one year’s residency in Malta. Caribbean island programmes on the other hand are known for processing citizenship applications anywhere from three to four months. In-fact, some cases can be processed in as little as two months’ time. Also, these programmes do not impose regulations requiring applicants to be present in the island to facilitate the citizenship process.
If the goal behind your quest for a second citizenship is to live and work in the UK or other European countries, then selecting a European Citizenship by Investment Programme will be better suited to your cause. Programmes like those offered by Cyprus and Malta, though priced considerably higher than other programmes, do allow you to legally live and work in some European countries. Caribbean island Citizenship by Investment Programmes do grant visa-free access to the major international cities; however, individuals are only allowed to visit these countries for six and three month periods respectively on any given trip.
Different Citizenship by Investment Programmes offer various ways through which individuals can invest in their citizenship. Some programmes allow investments through a government fund. This is usually the most affordable option offered by governments. However, investing in a government fund carries a high opportunity cost as the investment is non-recoverable.
Investing in government bonds is also another option through which you can obtain citizenship. Interest rates on these may fluctuate and there is always the risk of inflation or default by the government. Should either occur, investors may find the value of their investment at maturity to be less than what they initially invested.
Investing in shares or freehold property from a government approved real estate project, such as Anichi Resort & Spa, is also an option offered by some programmes. This option provides yearly returns based on the resort’s performance and the ability to live in the property for a set period during any given year. Most importantly, purchasing real estate affords owners the opportunity to sell the property after a three or five year period and potentially recover the initial investment.
Applications to a Citizenship by Investment Programme cannot come directly from a client. Applications must be submitted to the respective government authority by approved agents. These agents are individuals, who have been licensed to promote a particular country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme, and should be able to show evidence of their affiliation to the country’s programme. The agent you choose will guide you to select the best programme for your needs, and help you determine whether you are a good candidate for that country’s programme. The agent is also responsible for helping you collect and review all the relevant documents required for your application, before submitting it to the government authority for evaluation. Professional fees are typically charged by agents, for the citizenship services they provide.
It is clear that there are many variables to consider when opting to obtain a second citizenship through a Citizenship by Investment Programme. The process can be quite overwhelming, but it is always wise to think of your specific end goal. If cost is an issue, then start your evaluation examining the Caribbean island programmes. If migration to Europe is the goal, then start by looking at the European programmes. Whatever your goal, you do not have to evaluate it alone. There are numerous investment immigration consultants, whose sole purpose is to help you chose the best programme for you. Contact Anichi Development today, and we will be happy to connect you to a consultant near you.