economic citizenship

Economic Citizenship

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best economic citizenship program

Our team of professionals helps qualified individuals and families worldwide obtain second citizenship through reputable economic citizenship programs.

What is Economic Citizenship?

Economic citizenship refers to the legal process where an individual or family acquires second citizenship or permanent residence in a country in return for a specified financial investment in the nation. Many countries around the world operate economic citizenship programs, also known as citizenship by investment programs, as a means to attract direct foreign investment to their country.

When it comes to generating economic growth, the benefits of economic migration are undeniable. As a result, dozens of countries have implemented immigration policy and laws designed to attract wealthy individuals. In today's mobile global economy, however, many high net worth individuals (HNWI) reside and conduct business at an international level. Consequently, for many of these "global citizens," investment immigration programs that include a mandatory physical residency requirement are simply not feasible.

In an effort to appeal to these international entrepreneurs, a small number of countries have implemented citizenship by investment programs that offer expedited second citizenship through naturalization without any substantive physical presence requirement. These economic citizenship programs are structured to incentivize foreign direct investment by businessmen and businesswomen operating at a global level and are typically run in a legal and transparent manner according to local laws.

Benefits of Economic Citizenship

Obtaining a powerful second passport through a reputable economic citizenship program can provide business professionals with unparalleled freedom to travel as well as increased political and economic diversification. Second citizenship through investment in the right jurisdiction can improve a person's financial security and yield strategic tax planning opportunities, and can even allow an individual or family to hedge against geopolitical risk or quickly escape from unstable regions. There are, unfortunately, a number of poorly implemented, rogue, or even blatantly fraudulent immigration and citizenship schemes in existence today. To help people make well-informed decisions when evaluating available international citizenship options, we provide information about highly distinguished economic citizenship programs.

Top Economic Citizenship Countries

The following countries offer reputable citizenship by investment programs:

Our team of professionals can help advise you on which economic citizenship program best suits your needs. Call us today for a private consultation!

How Does an Immigration Lawyer Help?

An experienced immigration lawyer can assist people interested in legally obtaining a second passport in several ways. Firstly, they can help identify the best citizenship by investment program for an individual and their family, based on their exact situation. When evaluating economic citizenship countries, there is more to be considered than just the program’s investment criteria. Can eligible real estate be resold under the program? How long does the investor need to maintain ownership of the property? Do approved real estate projects in the country offer freehold units for sale, or just shares in the development? Is financing permitted and available? Does the jurisdiction allow you to include adult children in your citizenship application? How many economic passports has the country issued in the last decade? Does the nation's passport provide visa-free access to the countries you primarily wish to travel to? Are there any restrictions that could prevent you from applying to the program, such as the exclusion of citizens of certain countries?

Once you have decided on the ideal economic citizenship program, an immigration lawyer can represent you throughout the entire citizenship procurement process. Many investors retain an economic citizenship lawyer located outside of the jurisdiction in which they will be investing to ensure they are best protected throughout the process. An attorney can perform due diligence, complete necessary applications forms, and ensure you have all the correct supporting documentation required by the program. A lawyer can also negotiate with property developers, handle official Government communication on your behalf, review necessary financial agreements before you sign them, and represent your best interests while working alongside a local agent in that country.

Wondering how we can help you obtain second citizenship through investment? Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

Determining the Best Investment Citizenship Programs

When evaluating citizenship by investment countries to identify the best economic citizenship program for you, it is important to factor in reputational considerations. Many investors compare the legal and regulatory framework of jurisdictions they are considering, the current strength of each country's passport, as well as the various investment requirements, but can often overlook the estimated long-term value of each passport. In general, economic citizenship programs that perform stringent due diligence on all applicants are less likely to ever lose visa-free access to influential regions such as the European Union. On the other hand, countries that appear to accept almost anyone with enough money (whether or not this is actually the case) risk upsetting the international community which can damage the future power of their passport.

Antigua and Barbuda Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 2012

Processing time: 4-6 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival access to 136 countries including UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by financial contribution: non-refundable donation to the Antigua and Barbuda National Development Fund (NDF).
Solo applicant - $100,000 (plus $25,000 processing fee)
Family of 4 or less - $100,000 (plus $25,000 processing fee)
Family of 5 or more - $125,000 (plus $25,000 processing fee for family of 4 + $15,000 per additional dependent)

Economic citizenship by real estate investment: investment of at least $400,000 into approved Antigua real estate (5 years) as well as Government processing fees.
Solo applicant - $50,000
Family of 4 or less - $50,000
Family of 5 or more - $50,000 for family of 4 plus $15,000 per additional dependent

Economic citizenship by establishing business: investment of at least $1,500,000 into eligible local business

Residency requirement: must spend at least five days in Antigua and Barbuda during the first five years as a citizen

Cyprus Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 2011

Processing time: 2-3 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival access to 158 countries including UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by investment: purchase of permanent residence in Cyprus for at least €500,000 + VAT plus one of the following fully recoverable investments (3 years).

  • Investment of at least €2,000,000 in Cyprus Government bonds
  • Purchase or creation of a Cyprus-based company for least €2,000,000 (5 employees)
  • Investment of at least €1,500,000 in residential real estate in Cyprus
  • Investment of at least €2 million in commercial real estate in Cyprus

Residency requirement: none

Dominica Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 1993

Processing time: 4-6 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 119 countries including UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Brazil, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by financial contribution: non-refundable donation to the Dominica Government Fund.
Solo applicant - $100,000
Main applicant and spouse - $175,000
Main applicant, spouse, and up to 2 children under 18 - $200,000
Additional dependents - $25,000 each

Economic citizenship by real estate investment: at least $200,000 investment into approved Dominica real estate (3 years) as well as Government processing fees.
Main applicant - $25,000
Spouse - $10,000
Family of up to 4 - $35,000
Family of up to 6 - $50,000
Family of 7 or more - $70,000

Residency requirement: none

Grenada Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 2013

Processing time: 2-3 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 127 countries including China, Russia, UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Brazil, Singapore, UAE, and Hong Kong. Also eligible for USA E-2 Visa.

Economic citizenship by financial contribution: non-refundable donation to the Grenada National Transformation Fund (NTF).
Solo applicant - $150,000
Main applicant and spouse - $200,000
Main applicant, spouse, and up to 2 children - $200,000
Additional dependents - $25,000 each

Economic citizenship by real estate investment: at least $350,000 investment into approved Grenada real estate (3 years) as well as Government processing fees.
Solo applicant - $50,000
Main applicant and spouse - $50,000
Main applicant, spouse, and up to 2 children - $50,000
Additional dependents - $25,000 each

Residency requirement: none

Malta Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 2014

Processing time: 6-12 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 167 countries including USA, UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by investment: purchase of Malta real estate for at least €350,000 or lease of apartment for at least €16,000 annually (5 years), AND investment of €150,000 in Malta Government bonds (5 years), AND non-refundable donation to the Malta National Development and Social Fund (NDSF).
Main applicant - €650,000
Spouse - €25,000
Children under 18 - €25,000 each
Children 18 to 26 - €50,000 each
Dependent parents & grandparents - €50,000 each

Residency requirement: genuine link with Malta (retaining a local residence combined with a visit to the country)

St Kitts and Nevis Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 1984

Processing time: 8-12 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 136 countries including UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Brazil, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by financial contribution: non-refundable donation to the St Kitts and Nevis Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF).
Solo applicant - $150,000
Main applicant, spouse, and up to 2 dependents - $195,000
Additional dependents - $25,000 each

Economic citizenship by real estate investment: at least $400,000 investment into approved St Kitts real estate (5 years) as well as Government processing fees.
Main applicant - $35,000
Spouse - $20,000
Dependent children, parents & grandparents - $10,000 each

Residency requirement: none

St Lucia Economic Citizenship Program

Established: 2015

Processing time: 2-3 months

Passport: visa-free or visa on arrival entry to 127 countries including UK, Switzerland, entire EU, Singapore, and Hong Kong

Economic citizenship by financial contribution: non-refundable donation to the National Economic Fund (NEF).
Solo applicant - $100,000
Main applicant and spouse - $165,000
Main applicant, spouse, and up to 2 children - $190,000
Additional dependents - $25,000 each

Economic citizenship by real estate investment: at least $300,000 investment into approved Saint Lucia real estate (5 years) as well as Government processing fees.
Main applicant - $50,000
Spouse - $35,000
Children under 18 - $25,000 each
Dependent children 18 to 25 - $35,000 each
Dependent parents & grandparents - $35,000 each

Economic citizenship by business investment: at least $3.5 million investment into approved enterprise project that creates a minimum of three full-time jobs, as well as Government processing fees.
Main applicant - $50,000
Spouse - $35,000
Children under 18 - $25,000 each
Dependent children 18 to 25 - $35,000 each
Dependent parents & grandparents - $35,000 each

Residency requirement: none

Additional Economic Citizenship Countries

There are a few investment citizenship countries that offer informal second citizenship programs that do not have specific requirements. The Austria Economic Citizenship Program is one example. The Austria Economic Citizenship Program offers EU citizenship to qualified individuals that "provide extraordinary economic, cultural, scientific, or artistic benefits" to the country. Obtaining citizenship through investment under such ambiguous conditions is often perceived to be risky, however, and most international entrepreneurs prefer investor citizenship programs with formal stipulations and timelines.

There are also countries with investor immigration programs that include expedited citizenship. The Bulgaria Economic Citizenship Program is one such hybrid scheme. Foreign nationals that invest enough money in Bulgaria not only receive an EU Residence Permit in six to nine months but they can also potentially obtain European citizenship within two years. Such investment immigration programs require the participant to actually live in the country in order to obtain nationality, however, and are therefore more of an investor immigration program than an economic citizenship one.

There are also economic citizenship countries with weak passports, such as the Comoros Economic Citizenship Program. Although Comoros offers one of the cheapest economic citizenship programs in the world, with a minimum investment of a mere $45,000 USD, a Comoros passport only offers visa-free travel to 47 countries and territories. The vast majority of qualified investors simply have zero interest in procuring citizenship in a country with such a weak passport. Comoros economic citizenship participants do not gain visa-free access to the European Union, for example, which is a key objective for almost all global business professionals evaluating second citizenship options. There have been citizenship through investment programs available in the past that are currently suspended, such as the Hungary Economic Citizenship Program.

One of the newest citizenship through investment countries is Turkey. The Turkish Economic Citizenship Program was announced in January 2017, and has gotten off to a strong start. Until the scheme becomes more established, however, many investors will tend to shy away. If you would like to discuss economic citizenship news, curriculum or requirement changes, or new passport by investment programs, please give us a call.

Economic Citizenship vs. Immigration by Investment

Several countries operate residency by investment programs that can eventually lead to full citizenship. You can obtain Canadian economic citizenship through the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), for example, but it requires an investor to live in Canada as a Permanent Resident for at least three years. US economic citizenship is also possible through the EB-5 Green Card by Investment Program, but similar to Canada it requires the investor to live in the United States as a Permanent Resident for a minimum of five years. Australian economic citizenship via an Australia Investor Visa and UK economic citizenship via a Tier 1 Investor Visa are two more examples of permanent residency by investment programs that can result in citizenship. Unless it is possible to obtain citizenship and a passport reasonably quickly, however, the jurisdiction should be classified as an investment immigration country, not an investor citizenship one. Many immigration by investment countries also have Government application processing times that are an order of magnitude longer than those of economic citizenship programs.

Industry News

March 2018 - St Kitts Launches New Fund
The Saint Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program has introduced a new fund under their second passport program. The Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) will replace the country's previous Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF), and foreign nationals who donate at least USD 150 thousand to the fund can qualify for fast second citizenship in the country. The Sustainable Growth Fund contribution requirements are cheaper than the previous ongoing fund and the fund is designed to be more transparent than ever before demonstrating the St Kitt’s Government's strong desire to create prosperity and opportunities for their citizens and foreign investors. Second citizenship through the St Kitts Economic Citizenship Program will no longer be possible by donating to the country's Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF), which was temporarily available in 2017 and 2018.

February 2018 - Grenada Eases Age Qualifications for Dependents
The Grenada Economic Citizenship Program has increased the maximum age of dependent children from 25 to 30. Consequently, if you have a son or daughter that is in their late 20s and still studying full time, Grenada may be the best citizenship by investment country for your family. The island nation has also lowered the minimum age of dependent parents from 65 to 55, making it easier than ever to include family members both young and old in a single investor citizenship application.

February 2018 - St Kitts Lowers Real Estate Fees
St Kitts & Nevis has reduced the government fees under the real estate option of the country's citizenship through investment program. A main applicant now pays $35 thousand in government fees, a decrease from $50,047. A spouse now pays $20 thousand instead of $25,047. Fees for children and dependent parents & grandparents were reduced from $25,047 to only $10 thousand each.

February 2018 - Price Cut in Grenada for Solo Applicants
The Caribbean citizenship by investment "price war" continues, this time with Grenada making changes to its curriculum. The Grenada Economic Citizenship Program has reduced the minimum investment criteria for single applicants under the country's National Transformation Fund (NTF) donation option. Solo applicants can now qualify for a second passport in Grenada by making a financial contribution of at least $150,000 to the fund. This makes the nation's second citizenship program even more competitive and is the same contribution amount for one person as St Kitts and Nevis. The smallest donation requirement was previously $200 thousand, making citizenship by investment in Grenada more affordable than ever before.

January 2018 - Grenada Passport Gains Strength
Grenada citizens are now able to travel to Russia without the need to apply for a visitor visa. Grenada passport holders also now enjoy visa-on-arrival access to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by representatives of the two countries. A second passport in Grenada has become an exceptionally great option for professionals who do business in Russia, China, and Dubai.

January 2018 - Bulgarian Passport Strengthens
Citizens of Bulgaria and Romania now enjoy visa-free travel to Canada. Consequently, interest in the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program is expected to increase.

November 2017 - Antigua Raises Maximum Age of Dependent Children
Economic citizenship is now possible in Antigua and Barbuda for dependent children up to 28 years of age, provided they are enrolled in a legitimate educational institution on a full-time basis and have at least six months of school remaining. Many economic citizenship programs do not allow dependent children older than 25 years of age to be included under their parent's second citizenship by investment application. Consequently, Antiguan economic citizenship may be the optimal program for global investors with children in their mid-20s.

October 2017 - Antigua Citizenship Program Lowers Minimum Donation
The Antigua and Barbuda Economic Citizenship Program has significantly reduced the minimum financial contribution required for second citizenship in the country. The National Development Fund (NDF) investment option now requires a donation of at least $100,000 for a solo applicant or family of up to four, or a minimum donation of $125,000 for a family of five or more. This is a massive 50% reduction from the program's previous endowment requirements. Consequently, the Antiguan Economic Citizenship Program is now one of the cheapest citizenship by investment programs on earth and offers tremendous value to global business professionals interested in an exceptional second passport.

September 2017 - Dominica Citizenship Program Lowers Real Estate Fees
The Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program has announced a reduction of their Government fees for the real estate option. A main applicant alone will now need to pay a Government processing fee of $25,000 instead of $50,000. A main applicant and spouse will now need to pay $35,000 in fees compared to $75,000 previously. A family of up to 4 will now be required to pay a Government fee of $35,000 instead of $75,000.

September 2017 - St Kitts Offers Hurricane Relief Donation Option
The St Kitts and Nevis Economic Citizenship Program has introduced a temporary financial contribution option to assist with repairs to the country's infrastructure after the most recent hurricane season. The minimum donation amounts required to obtain second citizenship in St Kitts and Nevis are up to 50% lower for the Hurricane Relief Fund compared to the St Kitts Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF).

March 2017 - Hungary Economic Citizenship Program Closes
The Hungarian Residency Bond Program has been placed on moratorium by the nation's Government. Consequently, EU residency by investment will no longer be possible in the jurisdiction effective immediately. Other European citizenship through investment programs are still open in Cyprus and Malta.

Why Economic Citizenship?

Countries that have implemented specific immigration policy and laws as a means to encourage direct investment typically do so to attract high net worth individuals (HNWI) from across the globe. Individuals and their families are often interested in economic citizenship programs for several reasons.

Visa-free travel:

  • For professionals and entrepreneurs who conduct business internationally thereby allowing them to travel to many destinations around the world without the hindrance of visa applications for each country
  • For families looking to visit relatives in other countries with ease
  • For minorities, other persecuted people and individuals living in unstable regions giving them and their families the opportunity to escape dangerous and life-threatening situations

Financial security and tax planning:

  • Individuals may use a second country of residence as a means to protect their assets and provide tax planning alternatives tailored to their businesses and investments

Obtain a second residence:

  • Use a second residence as a vacation home or for family members seeking to study or open a business abroad

Interested in obtaining a second passport through economic citizenship? Contact our team of professionals for a private consultation.

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