We live in uncertain times. Decisions made by governments can rapidly change the socio-economic makeup of a country. Therefore, an increasing number of individuals are looking into getting a second citizenship. Besides helping them secure a better future for themselves and their families, citizenship by investment also acts as a form of insurance against potential political and economic instabilities.
As compared to ‘traditional’ routes of obtaining a country’s citizenship, citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs can be quicker and more convenient. Plus, in most cases, there are no education, residency or interview requirements.
How does citizenship by investment work?
Some countries grant individuals citizenship in exchange for an investment made in the country. This route of gaining the country’s citizenship is quicker than the ‘traditional’ way of having to pass an interview and meet residency and language requirements. In this case, investment into a development fund, bond or real estate is required. Notably, you aren’t simply ‘buying’ citizenship because certain conditions must be met. Also, the process is often smoother if done via a specialist CBI firm like Bluemina.
Below are 3 of the most common conditions you need to meet to qualify for citizenship by investment:
1) You must have a clean criminal record. This will be checked during due diligence.
2) You must be able to provide documentation that shows the source of investment funds. This is typically provided in the form of bank statements.
3) You must invest in a government-approved investment scheme. Some examples include real estate properties, bonds and economic development funds.
Why do countries offer citizenship by investment programs?
Citizenship by investment programs provides a country with more funds for development. Plus, many investors in such programs end up making investments far beyond the minimum. CBI programs are a good way of attracting high net worth individuals to develop a country for the long term – and even create jobs in the process.
CBI programs follow legal protocols. There are no underhand tactics used or encouraged, and rejection of unqualifying applications is a possibility. For instance, St Kitts & Nevis regularly publicizes the positive impact of their citizenship by investment program; the program brings in millions of dollars each year which are funneled into enhancing its infrastructure, and its healthcare and education services.
Reasons why people invest in a second citizenship
Individuals have different motives for investing in a second citizenship, some family-related, and others are business-related. Here are some common reasons for investing in a second citizenship.
Some passports can feel restrictive in the sense of the visa-free travel they allow. Most individuals dislike the lengthy visa application processes and would rather spend the time and money on other priorities. Therefore, obtaining a strong second passport is an incredibly attractive investment for individuals whose lifestyle and work require a lot of travel. For example, a St Kitts & Nevis passport allows for visa-free travel to over 160 countries, including the UK and Schengen region.
Things can change at a moment’s notice. Political issues can spill over into civil unrest, resulting in reduced stability and security. Therefore, some individuals gain second citizenship to hedge against emergencies during times of political unrest. Those with dual citizenship can quickly move their families and their assets out of the country.
3) Entrepreneurial pursuits
Some entrepreneurs have the aim of taking their business global. Email and video chats are great, but some deals need to be closed in person. Therefore, in order to grasp global opportunities, instant travel is often required. This is when dual citizenship comes in beneficial. Additionally, businessmen will more likely be able to increase their net worth as they will have increased access to a thriving marketplace and a much more skilled labor force.
In most cases, families can apply for citizenship by investment under one application. As a result, families have access to a better lifestyle, top education, and high-quality health services unavailable to them in their home countries.
5) Diversification of assets
Some entrepreneurs use a second passport to diversify the geographical locations of their assets. For instance, they can purchase real estate in multiple countries. This acts as a hedge against economic downswings in their ‘home’ country. This could be looked at as a comprehensive approach to long-term financial security and generational wealth planning.
Popular CBI destinations
There are several “citizenship by investment” programs; however, they all come with pros and cons. Below are some destinations you should consider if you are interested in citizenship by investment. The following factors into are taken into account:
1) Visa-free travel
2) Residency requirement
3) Application process
Saint Kitts & Nevis
A Saint Kitts & Nevis passport allows for visa-free travel to the United Kingdom and over 160 countries including those in the Schengen Zone. Applicants don’t have to visit or reside in Saint Kitts & Nevis during or after applying. To qualify, applicants must invest a minimum of $150,000 into a government-approved sustainable growth fund. Alternatively, they can invest $200,000 or $400,000 into a government-approved real estate property. There are no educational, interview or test requirements.
Saint Lucia’s citizenship by investment program is similar to that of Saint Kitts & Nevis. The application process is relatively straightforward. On average, citizenship is gained in 4 to 6 months. This enables visa-free travel to 120 countries, including Schengen and the United Kingdom.
The controversy surrounding citizenship by investment
Countries offering ‘golden passports’ are keen to point out that they aren’t offering a commodity. However, sometimes, they are marketed as such. The benefits to successful applicants are numerous; however, how much do the countries benefit? For instance, it is common for applicants to use developing countries as a route to gain access to destinations such as the UK and Europe. They invest the bare minimum and never take root in the country of second nationality.
Moreover, citizenship by investment programs has proved somewhat controversial because they are viewed as ‘fast-track’ a process that should take years.
Citizenship by investment is growing increasingly popular as more people are realizing the benefits these programs hold. What do you think of citizenship-by-investment programs? Let us know in the comments section below.