The Covid-19 pandemic fueled the demand for ‘golden visas’ and second passports. Almost all leading immigration and relocation firms have been reporting about the increased interest and inquiries about residency and citizenship by investment programs since the disease outbreak. If earlier people mostly were motivated by opportunities to enhance global mobility and expand business internationally while applying for such kinds of programs, now they are more tend to find a ‘safe heavens’ for their families in a volatile world.
In this blog, you will find information about 10 most sought-after citizenship by investment programs, which can help you to obtain a coveted second passport for you and your beloved family members. The first five programs are from the Caribbean countries and three – from Europe, plus Turkish and Vanuatuan citizenship by investment schemes.
Commonwealth of Dominica
Dominican citizenship by investment program is considered to be one of the best in the world, and it is always ranked in the highest positions in various rankings. In CBI Index 2021, developed by the Professional Wealth Management Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times, the Dominican program is in first place for the fifth consecutive year.
There are two ways to qualify for Dominica’s citizenship by investment program: either a non-refundable donation of at least USD 100,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund established by the government or investment of at least USD 200,000 in the government-approved real estate project.
Investors’ family members are also eligible to be included in the citizenship by investment application and obtain second passports of Dominica, which allows visa-free travel to more than 140 countries and territories all around the globe.
St. Kitts & Nevis
The Caribbean dual-island federation of St Kitts & Nevis is considered as the cradle of modern citizenship by investment programs. They launched the scheme back in 1984, soon after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom, and now, they boast the ‘platinum brand’ of the program.
To qualify for St Kitts & Nevis citizenship by investment program, you should make either a non-refundable contribution of at least USD 150,000 to the special government fund or invest at least USD 200,000 in the government-approved real estate project.
Investors can include family members in the citizenship by investment application, including a spouse, children, parents and grandparents, and even investors and spouse’s siblings. But, in this case, the cost of the application will increase.
Currently, until the end of 2021, there is a special discount for the family of four – instead of USD 195,000, they can contribute USD 150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund and obtain citizenship of St Kitts & Nevis.
Holders of St Kitts & Nevis passports can travel visa-free to more than 150 destinations worldwide.
The beautiful island-nation of St Lucia has been offering economic citizenship to foreign investors since 2015. Currently, there are five different investment options to qualify for the St Lucian citizenship by investment program. Applicants can choose to donate at least USD 100,000 to the National Economic Fund or to make an investment in a government-approved real estate project (minimum investment requirement stands at USD 300,000), or invest in a business (investment threshold is USD 1 million), or purchase government bonds (minimum investment starts from USD 500,000). The fifth option – ‘Covid-19 Relief Bonds’, is a limited-time offer, which will expire by the end of 2021, and the minimum investment layout is USD 250,000 for a single applicant and USD 300,000 for a family of four.
Family members, including a spouse, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings of the main applicants and the spouse, can also be included in the application.
St Lucian citizens can travel visa-free to more than 140 destinations worldwide.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is another Caribbean nation offering citizenship to foreign investors if they meet certain criteria and make a non-refundable contribution of at least USD 100,000 to the National Development Fund or invest at least USD 400,000 in the government-approved real estate project. A real estate investment threshold can be lowered to USD 200,000 in the case of joint investment. There are two options available to qualify for the program: Investment in the business of at least US $1,5 million and a non-refundable contribution of at least US $150,000 to the University of the West Indies Fund.
With additional fees, investors can include family members in the citizenship by investment application. They can be a spouse, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings of the investor and the spouse.
With Antigua and Barbuda’s passports, you can travel visa-free to more than 150 destinations globally.
Another Caribbean island-nation of Grenada re-launched its citizenship by investment program in 2013 and soon become an alluring destination for foreign investors. There are two options to apply for this program. The first one is a non-refundable donation of at least USD 150,000 to the National Transformation Fund, and the second is to invest in the government-approved real estate project, which requires investment with a minimum value of USD 350,000 or USD 220,000 in the tourism accommodation center.
Like all other Caribbean citizenship by investment programs, Grenada allows investors’ family members as dependents to be included in the application. The definition of dependents is the same and includes a spouse, children, parents, and grandparents, as well as siblings of the main applicant and the spouse.
One of the tempting features of Grenada’s citizenship is the possibility to apply for an E-2 investor visa, which gives the right to its holder to reside and conduct a business in the USA.
Grenada has a visa-waiver agreement with more than 140 jurisdictions, allowing its citizens to travel visa-free to those destinations.
Malta’s citizenship by investment program was reformed in November 2020, and its official name is Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment. This scheme has a contribution + investment + donation structure and, compared to the Caribbean programs, takes a relatively long period (12 or 36 months, depending on the amount of the investment) to obtain the Maltese passport. Applicants have to make a non-refundable contribution of at least EUR 600,000 to the National Development and Social Fund, pay a donation with an amount of EUR 10,000 to the Maltese non-governmental organization, and invest in a real estate through the acquisition of realty with a minimum value of EUR 700,000 or leasing it for the minimum annual price of EUR 16,000.
Investor’s family members: a spouse, children, parents, and grandparents are also eligible to be included in the citizenship by investment application.
Malta has one of the strongest passports in the world, giving the right of visa-free travel to more than 180 countries across the world, including the USA. Actually, Malta is the only country with such a program, which has a visa-waiver agreement with the USA. Due to the fact that Malta is a member-state of the European Union (EU), its citizenship by investment program allures many high-net-worth individuals, despite its high price.
Montenegro’s citizenship by investment program was launched in 2019 and will be closed by the end of 2021. Besides, it is capped to just 2000 applications. Like the Maltese scheme, the Montenegrin program also requires a non-refundable contribution of at least EUR 100,000 in the governmental fund and an investment of at least EUR 250,000 (in the north part of the country) or EUR 450,000 (in the coastal area and the capital city) in a real estate.
Along with the investor as the main applicant, a spouse, children, and dependent parents are also eligible to be included in the citizenship application.
Already a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the country is a candidate to join the European Union by 2025.
Montenegro’s passport allows visa-free access to more than 120 countries in the world. With a second passport from Montenegro, you can apply for an E-2 visa in the USA.
Another European country with a citizenship by investment program is North Macedonia, which, like Montenegro, is already a member of NATO and is also supposed to join the EU by 2025.
The North Macedonian citizenship by investment program is also capped with just 1000 applications, and it requires a non-refundable contribution of at least EUR 200,000 in the special designated governmental fund.
Together with the investor, family members (spouse and children) can be included in the application.
North Macedonian passport gives the right of visa-free travel to more than 120 countries, and its citizens are eligible to apply for the E-2 Investor visa in the USA.
Turkish citizenship by investment program became very popular in 2019 when authorities drastically lowered the investment thresholds. If you purchase real estate in Turkey with a value of at least USD 250,000, you become eligible to apply for Turkish citizenship. The scheme has other investment options as well, like bank deposits, investment in a business, and the acquisition of bonds and securities, but the minimum investment layout of those options are much higher.
Investors’ family members, spouse, and children can be included in the citizenship by investment application.
Turkish passport is relatively weak, allowing visa-free access to just 111 countries and territories, but also makes its holder eligible to apply for an E-2 Investor visa in the USA.
Located in Oceania, Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program has recently become extremely popular due to its straightforward and easy application process. Specifically, the island nation has two schemes; the Vanuatu Contribution Program (VCP) and the Development Support Program (DSP). Since 2019, both programs are harmonized in terms of the application process, pricing, and citizenship features.
In order to qualify for Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program, you will need to make a non-refundable contribution to the special governmental fund with an amount of at least USD 130,000. For a family of four, the sum increases to USD 180,000.
Investors’ spouse, children, and parents are also eligible to apply for the program and obtain second passports from Vanuatu, which gives the right of visa-free travel to more than 130 jurisdictions globally.
Along with required investments or contributions, all programs have clear eligibility criteria, and investors need to meet them in order to accomplish the application process successfully. Each adult included in the citizenship by investment application is subject to due diligence and background checks. Except of Malta, the time from applications submitted to obtaining citizenship is about 2-4 months. Besides, applicants are required to cover some processing, administrative and professional fees, which vary according to country.