According to the Independent.co.uk, a recent “citizenship” survey revealed that approximately 89% of post-Brexit Britons see a growing need for obtaining a second (dual) citizenship. Obtaining a second citizenship, however, can be a lengthy and complicated process for the average person, and many of the country’s wealthy are prepared to spend a substantial amount of money to achieve their goal.
The survey also indicated that nearly 60% of participants attributed Brexit—the 2016 referendum led by the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU)—as a driving factor in their decision to seek alternative citizenship solutions. Although the UK will not formally leave the EU until 2019, the Brexit referendum has challenged UK citizens and residents to reconsider the value of acquiring another citizenship and passport abroad.
From the survey, three out of four participants cited ease of travel as the main motivating factor for acquiring a second citizenship and passport, whereas one out of six participants believed a second citizenship and passport would enhance their business opportunities beyond the UK.
It’s clear that loss of travel freedom within the EU is the driving force behind Britons exploring citizenship options, and for good reason. The current status quo of the EU allows citizens and residents to enjoy reciprocal freedom of movement throughout the 28 participating EU member states. Even more, citizens and residents share the right of access to health insurance benefits provided throughout EU countries.
This is not to say that freedom of movement within the EU will come to an end for the UK now or in the future, but it is a possibility that some Britons are not willing to ignore. For the 500 individuals interviewed, with ages ranging from 18 to 50, about 15% (~75) of participants stated they would be willing to invest at least half of their annual salary to obtain a second citizenship, while 80% (~400) said they would contribute 5% of their annual earnings.
So what are the top countries Britons are looking at to acquire a second citizenship and passport? The most common answers included Canada and the United States, as well as Australia and Germany. For British investors, Canada, the United States, and Europe are certainly viable options. It’s important to keep in mind that Canada, the U.S., and certain European countries do not offer direct citizenship (to investors or otherwise), but residency visas that can lead to citizenship.
Investment Options in Canada: The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP)
In Canada, foreign nationals and their family are afforded Canadian permanent residency (PR) in exchange for a substantial investment into the country’s economy. This can be achieved through the popular Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), which requires a minimum investment amount of CAD $800,000.* The QIIP is the only Canadian immigration program that allows a fully-refunded, passive investment after a 5-year holding period. While there are alternative options such as Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which require business-minded men and women to actively manage a business in Canada, not all PNPs provide Canadian permanent residency or path to citizenship.
Permanent residents in Canada are eligible for Canadian citizenship after 4 out of 6 years of residency. Holders of a Canadian passport are granted visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 172 countries worldwide, including the UK and Schengen region.
*Financing options are available through the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP). However, the CAD $800,000 is not refunded to the investor after the 5-year holding period.
Investment Options in the United States: The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
Similar to the QIIP, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program grants investors and their family a U.S. Green Card, or permanent residency if all requirements are met. Through the EB-5 Program, candidates must invest a minimum of USD $500,000 in a government-approved Regional Center. Also like the QIIP, the EB-5 Program allows for a passive investment and does not require the investor to take an active role in the day-to-day operations of the Regional Center.
Permanent residents can apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years of conditional residency, and holders of an American passport are granted visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 174 countries, which also include the UK and Schengen region.
Although Canada and the United States do not provide direct citizenship options, they both offer investors paths to acquiring second (dual) citizenships and passports. If maintaining the highest degree of travel freedom is what wealthy post-Brexit Britons are after, then the QIIP and EB-5 Program are your best choices.
Investment Options in Europe: Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Greece, and Spain Golden Visa Programs
Akin to their North American counterparts, there are several European countries that offer paths to citizenship through Residency by Investment schemes, or Golden Visa Programs. Malta and Cyprus are exceptions, which offer both residency and citizenship options to qualified investors.
For those seeking fast-track citizenship or residency options (~2-3 months for processing) in the EU, then Cyprus, Greece, and Spain are the best choices.
For instance, Cypriot citizenship is obtainable in as little as 3 months for those who invest EUR 2 million into the country’s economy. Holders of a Cypriot passport can enjoy the amenities of EU citizenship as well as access to more than 159 countries around the world.
If time is not of the essence, Malta’s Golden Visa Program provides citizenship for a minimum investment of EUR 1.15 million, with processing averaging around 12 months. While processing times are longer, holders of a Maltese passport have visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 168 countries while enjoying the benefits of EU citizenship.
Golden Visa Programs for Greece, Portugal, and Spain allow investors to obtain residency permits that can lead to citizenship if residency requirements are fulfilled. For example, Greece and Portugal issue residency permits for a minimum investment of EUR 250,000; Greek citizenship is granted after 7 years of residency, and Portuguese citizenship is granted after 6 years in Portugal.
For a comparison between the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) and the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, please click here.
To view our European Golden Visa Residency comparison table, please click here.
For more information on the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), please click here.
For more information on the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, please click here.
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