A simple alternative is to consider citizenship or residence by investment programmes, which offer applicants the right to obtain a permanent status in a country in exchange for a contribution to that country’s economy.
Citizenship by investment has been adopted by many jurisdictions across the Caribbean and in Europe. Residence by investment is a favourite option for other European nations, whose Governments only allow applicants to obtain full citizenship after a number of years.
CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT
Since St Kitts and Nevis introduced the world to citizenship by investment in 1984, similar programmes have been adopted particularly throughout the Caribbean, and understandably so. The islands of the Caribbean are renowned for their beauty, and individually present unique opportunities to invest in flourishing economies whilst protecting their natural environments.
In all cases, the Caribbean programmes offer at least two options for second citizenship: investment into real estate or into national development funds. In gaining a second citizenship through investment in real estate, owners of properties are provided with either a second home or a rentable property from which to derive a stable income. National development funds aid governments to build infrastructure and enrich the socio-economic conditions of their citizens. Both options also encourage entrepreneurship and generate jobs for locals.
The rewards for those choosing citizenship by investment programmes include fast processing times, no language or skills assessments, and no mandatory interview. Most programmes also exempt applicants from minimum residence or travel requirements.
Malta and Cyprus are examples of European nations that offer similar structures for citizenship by investment. In other words, they do not require years of residence before citizenship can be granted. Cyprus calls its programme the ‘Naturalisation by Exception Scheme,’ while Malta named its programme the ‘Individual Investor Programme.’
Although Malta and Cyprus provide differing benefits, common to both is their ability to offer applicants membership of the European Union (EU), entitling them to live, work, and travel within the member states.
Irrespective of whether applicants select a Caribbean or European jurisdiction in which to apply for citizenship by investment, upon naturalisation they can expect to enjoy increased travel rights, a low -or no-tax regime, economic and political stability, education options for children, healthier lifestyle choices, and life in retirement haven perfect for those who prefer a less frenetic pace.
RESIDENCE LEADING TO CITIZENSHIP
Two of the most coveted residence by investment programmes, generally translating to permanent residence and later citizenship, are those offered by Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Portugal offers its ‘Golden Residence Permit Programme,’ granting permanent residency after five years, and citizenship after six. The United Kingdom requires residency for a minimum of five years before consideration of citizenship.
IN A NUTSHELL
Please note that the amounts described below do not include due diligence, processing, application, naturalisation, passport, and property purchase fees. In all cases applications must be made via agents that have been authorised by the respective governments. Professional fees may apply.
St Kitts and Nevis
This twin-island state offers citizenship in exchange for an investment of US$400,000 into real estate for a main applicant and any number of dependent family members. Government fees apply for those who elect to purchase real estate, starting at US$50,000 for a single applicant. Alternatively, contributions to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation start at US$250,000, and increase to US$300,000 when two to four family members apply together.
Lush, verdant Dominica requires a minimum investment into real estate of US$200,000 (applicable for single or multiple family members), or a donation of US$100,000 for a single investor into Dominica’s Economic Diversification Fund. Real estate purchases require the payment of additional Government fees, amounting to US$50,000 for a single applicant, and increasing with every additional dependant.
This tri-island paradise requires an investment into its National Transformation Fund of US$200,000 – be that for a single individual or a family of four. Similarly, there is no escalation in the fee for an investment in real estate, which, whether for an individual or a family, amounts to US$350,000. Government fees of US$50,000 for up to a family of four also apply if real estate is purchased.
The National Economic Fund of Saint Lucia requires an investment varying from US$200,000 for an individual, up to US$250,000 for a family of four, and increasing by US$25,000 per additional dependant irrespective of age. Its real estate option is static at US$300,000 regardless of the number of family members included, although Government fees apply, starting at US$50,000 for a single applicant. Changes to the Programme’s investment threshold are expected in 2017.
Antigua and Barbuda
The Government of these two islands asks for a US$250,000 donation to the National Development Fund, or a US$400,000 investment into a Government-approved real estate project. A US$50,000 Government fee is required for all applicants over 18. A third option is also available: a business investment, which requires US$1.5 million for a single investor, or US$5 million for multiple investors, with a total contribution for each investor of at least US$400,000.
This Mediterranean island offers the option to invest €2 million in real estate, to be held for three years and €500,000 of which to be held indefinitely. An additional choice to invest €2.5 million is also available, as long as the applicant selects one or more of the following: government bonds, Cypriot companies, real estate, or the financial assets of a Cypriot entity licensed by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec).
Aspiring citizens of Malta must make a €650,000 non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund, plus purchase or rent a €350,000 home on the island to be held for five years, and invest €150,000 into a Government-approved financial instrument – also a five-year mandatory requirement.
This Iberian nation requires a €1 million investment into shares of companies listed on the Portuguese stock exchange. Applicants may however prefer two alternative options: the creation of at least 10 local jobs, or the purchase of real estate worth a minimum of €500,000, be that residential, commercial, or agriculture, as long as it produces income or rent.
Residency can only be achieved if at least £2 million is invested into Government bonds or share or loan capital in active and trading UK-listed companies. It is possible to fast-track this process by applying for permanent residence in two or three years instead of five years, through an investment of £10 million or £5 million respectively.