What are citizenship-by-investment programs?


There are various ways to qualify for a second citizenship or passport. Citizenship by investment is one of the most respected citizenship programs today. It’s done through a country’s citizenship-by-investment program (CI citizenship).

Citizenship by investment programs allow individuals to buy citizenship and receive visa-free travel passports that give them the right to live and work in another country. You can use citizenship as a tool for business or personal purposes. There are also many tax benefits available from some countries to their citizens, especially if you reside there for part of the year.  These citizenship investment tools help boost 3rd countries and their economy by making it easy for rich investors with interest in property rights because they want more foreign investment from high net worth individuals. This citizenship by investment is a mutually beneficial transaction.

We’re not talking about citizenship in tax havens or countries with no laws or regulations, but established Western-style democracies that give you full legal citizenship rights and the right to live in their country. Many of these citizenship by investment programs relieve the investor from having to spend too much time in the 3rd country they invest their 5 million dollars in and gives them visa-free travel and residency worldwide. They are eligible for citizenship if they meet certain requirements, such as language proficiency, background checks, health clearances and physical presence for at least five years. This means they could stay in New York (for example) half the year and only have to visit the 3rd country twice a year during annual visits to meet their residency or citizenship criteria.

Citizenship by investment program will vary in price depending on the country and citizenship that they are interested in. Below is a list of citizenship by investment programs offered by other countries, current citizenship costs, background checks, health clearances and what visas your citizenship offers you if you have acquired one. It is important to note that some citizenship programs below waive language proficiency or physical presence requirements for higher-priced citizenship packages.

St. Kitts & Nevis offers citizenship by investment via their investor visa program called SKN passport opportunity (SKNP). A $250K donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation would get you indefinite residence in St. Kitts and Nevis as well as qualify you for the second residency after five years.

Malta is another country that offers citizenship by investment. You would need to invest €500,000 in Malta and maintain a real estate property in the European country for citizenship. Malta citizenship offers you citizenship after two years of residency if you have dual citizenship or five years of residency if you are a single citizen. The country also offers citizenship to foreign spouses under discretionary naturalization laws where residence must be maintained for a total of 10 years before applying for citizenship (dual citizenship).

Portugal also has a program in place which allows residency for those who invest at least  €280,000 and make a real estate purchase which must be held for two years. You also need to have an annual income of at least $65,000 which is usually exempt from tax in Portugal. After ten years, you will have the right to apply for a passport giving access to 186 countries.  

Spain citizenship by investment program can take up to 1 year after approval to get citizenship, with  the basic requirements being that you have $500,000 in public bonds or a real estate property of equal value; maintain permanent residency for two years, and pass language proficiency test of Spanish.