Countries that “sell their passports” are often frowned upon but the reality is that all countries encourage immigration by HNWIs either through granting residency that can lead to citizenship, or granting citizenship itself in return for investment – it is just the price and timescale that differs.
Equally there are still many countries where the future, politically or economically, is uncertain, which encourages their citizens either to emigrate or take out an alternative residency or citizenship as an insurance policy if things at home take a turn for the worse. If these citizens have money to invest then it makes sense to do so in countries that will give them some kind of formal status in return.
If you are considering applying for a second residency or passport under any Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) there are a number of factors to take into account:
- The size of the investment required of an applicant to gain residency;
- The length of time it will take for an applicant to become eligible for citizenship;
- The number of days, if any, that an applicant is required to physically reside in a country;
- Whether eligibility for citizenship is also extended to an applicant’s spouse or other dependents;
- Whether either the proposed or current country prohibits dual citizenship;
- Whether the proposed country’s passport provides visa free entry to a significant number of other countries;
- Whether the proposed country has any requirements related to education, or management and work experience;
- Whether the proposed country has any requirements for military or other service;
- The costs of living in the proposed country – including tax rates and tax incidence;
- Whether the applicant’s existing country applies an exit tax or other penalties.
Many developed countries are refining their immigration policies in order to attract only the best and wealthiest new citizens looking to relocate their families or invest abroad. Each country offers different financing requirements, immigration procedures and benefits to their investors in a bid to keep the market competitive.
Canada’s IIPs are considered to be the best-proven and well-established residence and citizenship programmes available, while the UK passport is ranked as the best passport to have in terms of visa restriction ratings because it permits a holder to visit the most countries worldwide without a visa.
One of the most recent IIPs developed for the international business elite in the last few years is the Bulgaria-EU Investor Programme for Residence and Citizenship, while a less well-known country that offers direct citizenship-by-investment is the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies. Neither of these programmes requires applicants to physically reside in their country.
Malta, Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal and Latvia all offer residency and visa free travel throughout the EU in return for a modest investment in property. In Dubai a legal right to residency can be established simply by forming a company.
Sovereign and its specialist external partners can guide clients through the best available IIPs in order to determine which one will suit them best. We keep up-to-date details on these schemes around the world, with their financial conditions, required investments, financing options, government application fees and requirements for the programmes, time frame to obtain permanent residence and to maintain it, as well as requirements for obtaining citizenship.
Sometimes described as the “new alternative investment”, IIPs should be treated like an insurance policy – consider acquiring it well in advance before you need it in an emergency.