What is the Citizenship by Investment Programme?
Economic Citizenship or Citizenship by Investment refers to obtaining a passport of the chosen country by investing a set amount of money into its economy.
To avoid further confusion, economic citizenship and citizenship by investment are in fact, the same thing, which is a way of obtaining citizenship in one country by investing in the economy of the chosen state. The concepts themselves have differences, but they are not significant. Thus, economic citizenship is a mode of obtaining a passport, while citizenship for investment is a way of obtaining it. Thus, it is possible to combine both concepts into one — economic citizenship through investments.
More often than not, a second citizenship is obtained to reduce the tax burden of doing international business. By obtaining tax residency, the entrepreneur is either completely exempt from taxation or receives lower rates on basic taxes, such as VAT, income, inheritance and gift, international income and more.
Countries that offer a citizenship-by-investment programme have beneficial conditions for doing business, including tax holidays and minimum fiscal payments, just to name a few.
As a rule, it is possible to invest in one or more areas:
- Residential and commercial real estate. You have to acquire a residential unit or business premises with a minimum financial value. You can purchase more than one property, the important thing is that the final value must correspond or exceed the threshold amount. And you are not allowed to sell real estate for the first 3–5 years, depending on the country.
- Investments in a country are also shares, bonds and deposits in a bank, as well as donations to a fund. The essential aspect is that the investment reaches the required amount to obtain a passport. With regard to shares, bonds and other investments that must be repaid, the funds cannot be used for at least 3 years. They must remain in the country's fund accounts.
- Business with a share capital of the required amount.
In all countries offering citizenship for investment, passport eligibility extends to all family members of the applicant. Depending on the country, adult children and parents who are financially supported by the investor may apply for citizenship.
Advantages of Acquiring Citizenship Through Real Estate Investments
This method of investment is considered to be the most popular of all those offered. The investor can purchase one or more commercial or residential properties and apply for a passport.
You have to take into account an important condition: the real estate acquired by the future citizen must be approved by the government and fall under the programme.
The cost of real estate properties in the Caribbean islands is as follows:
- Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda can be obtained with the purchase of property worth USD 400,000 or more. Most frequently a share in a resort complex is purchased.
- Citizenship of Grenada is issued under the same conditions, but the amount is reduced to USD 350,000.
- A Dominican Republic passport can be obtained with the acquisition of real estate of USD 200,000.
For Malta, the minimum amount of investment in real estate is EUR 350,000, with the candidate receiving an EU passport. At the same time, the total value of citizenship is EUR 800,000, so as far as real estate is concerned, the investment is to be a combined one.
In terms of real estate in the Caribbean islands, you own it nominally, since its maintenance and commercial benefits go to the management company. However, it is also possible to receive a passive income from the rental, if you refuse to use the service company in their favour, or choose to hire a representative of their interests.
The property can only be sold after a certain period of time according to the conditions of the economic citizenship programme. The average range is 3 to 5 years of full ownership. For example, in the Dominican Republic you can sell your property after 3 years, while in St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda you can only sell after 5 years.
Citizenship by Charity Donation
This is also quite a common practise for investment. Each country offers its own terms and conditions and sets the required amount, but all investments are aimed at the development of the state's economy. Some countries offer this option as an alternative to the acquisition of real estate.
In Malta you must invest EUR 650,000 in the Malta Development Fund and buy shares worth EUR 150,000 or buy or rent a property.
Antigua and Barbuda suggests investing USD 200,000 in the National Transformation Fund, while St Kitts and Nevis requires a USD 250,000 investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund. The Dominican Republic has the lowest contribution, amounting to a minimum of USD 100,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund.
Citizenship by investment in Stocks and Bonds
This method of obtaining citizenship is most often resorted to as an additional option in order to accumulate the missing amount for filing documents. It is not mandatory or necessary, however, as an additional tool, it provides a lucrative return to the countries.
The yield of securities is low, but it is considered to be a low-risk way of earning income. After a few years, it is possible to recover your funds through resale.
Obtaining Citizenship by Starting a Business
This method involves either opening a new company or relocating an existing one, where the company is assigned a physical and legal address in the chosen country. For instance, you can transfer an existing IT-company with remote staff to the territory of Antigua and Barbuda. It is important that the registered amount of capital reaches the amount required for obtaining citizenship and that the company's accounts are opened with the banks of the chosen country. All documentation has to be prepared in accordance with the requirements, then the investor can apply for a passport.
General Procedure for Obtaining Second Citizenship
It is important to understand that each country will have its own list of documents and mandatory verification of legality and validity of the data provided. Nevertheless, the general procedure for all countries is (approximately) as follows:
- The investor chooses the type of investment in one or more areas. For example, the acquisition of residential real estate, and the balance for the required amount is allocated to a deposit or a charity fund. As a result, the total amount invested equals or exceeds the minimum qualifying amount, and the investor moves on to the next stage.
- Applying for an economic citizenship programme.
- Transfer of funds to the country's special accounts.
- Submission of a complete set of documents to the state migration service.
- Once approved, the candidate and their family members are invited to the nearest consulate or embassy to collect their passports.
Almost all countries offer remote processing of citizenship, but some may require physical presence. For example, after obtaining a passport of Antigua and Barbuda, new citizens are required to stay in the country for at least 5 calendar days in the first 5 years, otherwise their citizenship is revoked.
Why Choose Economic Citizenship of the Caribbean islands?
There are multiple perks of economic citizenship of the Caribbean islands, including visa-free travel, lucrative business opportunities and plenty more.
Unlimited Business Opportunities
All Caribbean countries have roughly the same tax conditions for international business – no VAT on capital gains, dividends and interest. There is an excellent banking system and efficient protocols with strong protections, such as foundations and trusts, which are perfectly tailored to the conditions of doing business.
Visa-Free Travel to Most Countries
There are unlimited visa-free entry options for passport holders to visit many countries, especially the UK, USA and Canada. These conditions are stipulated in the legislation of the Caribbean Commonwealth countries and each has its own list of countries to visit. That being said, citizens of Antigua and Barbuda can stay within the territory of Great Britain for 181 days a year without a visa, and citizens of Grenada can visit the USA under the same conditions. On average, each of the countries offering an investment citizenship programme has the ability to visit 120 to 150 countries, visa-free.
Beneficial Conditions for Obtaining a Passport
You do not have to live on any of the islands to obtain a passport, since in most cases the document can be applied for and obtained remotely. There is no need to reside in the country permanently to remain a citizen.
Return on Investment
An equally important indicator is the return on investment. When investing in real estate, whether off-plan or ready, it is possible to receive a passive income from renting or by reselling at a profit after the end of the period stipulated in the terms of the passport. In conditions of constant instability of the world economy, this is a lucrative way to minimize the risks of losing money.
Why Use Our Company When Applying for a Second Citizenship?
The most important aspect is that almost all countries do not work directly with investors. Only licensed agents of EU and Caribbean programmes have the right to recommend a candidate for citizenship. Namely companies with representatives who deal with the selection of properties, advise on the effectiveness of the proposed investment tools, make a list of the documents, and so on.
An important task for the investor is to prepare all the necessary data to be submitted to the immigration authority of the country of their choice.
We are licensed agents of EU and Caribbean countries and we offer citizenship for investments in Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Saint Lucia. We take care of the entire process - from compiling an investment portfolio that is most beneficial to the client, to notifying when the documents are ready.