second citizenships by high net worth individuals continues to increase as they seek to increase travel freedom and flexibility, as well as to protect their hard-earned wealth. Securing a better future for their families is another commonly cited reason for applying for a second passport.
Citizenship by Investment Programs are the center of much controversy as some argue that a passport is not an asset that should be sold. Those that are against the investment-based citizenship programs feel that passports should only be granted either through family descent, place of birth, or more traditional immigration programs. Another argument is that the programs lack transparency and can potentially lead to abuse, especially those programs that do not have a residency requirement. The new citizen therefore sometimes has no connection to the country at all, other than the newly held passport.
Citizenship by Investment Programs is increasing. These programs help fuel economic growth for the country receiving the foreign investment. Is the continued growth sustainable? Considering that much of the world is politically distressed and provides little to no travel freedom, the elite from these countries are still looking for a way out. It’s also a fact that the ultra wealthy population in the Middle East and Asia is growing exponentially, driving even more demand for second citizenship through investment programs.
Many investors want the luxury of having a second passport without the obligation to pack up their lives and move. Most of the Citizenship by Investment Programs offer just that; there are usually no residency requirements, and if there are, they are easily attainable. This means that applicants to these programs get to enjoy the same benefits as other citizens immediately upon approval, and get to bypass the usual several years of residency required prior to becoming a citizen. For those who have no intention of migrating, at least in the near future, direct citizenship is what you’re looking for. The key is that you still have the option of moving to your new country of citizenship should you so choose. It is a second place to call home in the event of disaster, or when you are simply ready for a change of scenery.
Which countries offer citizenship through investment?
While there are many countries that offer residency in return for an investment into their nation’s economy, including Canada and the USA, as of now there are only eight countries offering direct citizenship for investment. These countries have legislation that authorizes the issuance of citizenship for a substantial investment. More than half of the eight existing Citizenship by Investment Programs are located in the Caribbean, while the remainder are in Europe.
a table comparing the eight Citizenship by Investment Programs, with minimum investment cost in ascending order:
|Country||Average processing time||Minimum Investment Required||Residency Requirement||Visa-Free/visa-on-arrival Countries|
|Antigua & Barbuda||3-4 months||US$200,000||5 days within first 5 years||134|
|Saint Lucia||3 months||US$200,000||None||125|
|St Kitts & Nevis||2-3 months||US$250,000||None||132|
|Malta||12 months||€1.2 million||12 months before naturalization||168|
|Cyprus||3 months||€2 million||None||159|
|Austria||18 months||€10 million||None||173|