Citizenship By Investment Industry is Expanding

Citizenship By Investment Industry is Expanding

Experts argue that Citizenship by investment (CBI) industry annual turnover reached $3 billions. Until recently only five Caribbean island states (St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Commonwealth of Dominica), along with Malta and Cyprus in Europe and Vanuatu in the Oceania have running citizenship by investment programs (CIP) in its pure form. Austria is also maintaining citizenship scheme for investors, but conditions and requirements differ from the above mentioned countries. Actually Austrian citizenship scheme is the most expensive in the world, requiring from the applicant to invest 20 million euros in the country.  Once the funds are allocated in the country the investor will not be able to withdraw them at any point in the future. The investment must be active, such as the formation of a new commercial enterprise or a direct investment into an existing Austrian business that will create jobs or increase product sales. Passive investments such as investments into government bonds or real estate holdings are not eligible.

Cypriot and Maltese citizenship schemes are relatively cheaper than Austrian. Cyprus Investment Programme requires minimum investment of 2 million euros to be eligible for obtaining Cypriot passport and Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (IIP) offers citizenship for at least 650,000 euros investment, plus 150,000 euros investments in government bonds, which should be maintained for at least five years. In both cases additional due diligence and processing fees are added to the investments. But unlike Austria investments in real estate are welcomed in Cyprus and Malta.

Caribbean and Vanuatu’s CIPs are even cheaper. Starting from USD100,000 an investor can apply for Antiguan, Dominican or St. Lucian citizenship. The oldest CIP of St. Kitts and Nevis, which was launched in 1984, offers citizenship to investors for USD150,000 investments. Grenadian and Vanuatu’s citizenship can be obtained for little more than USD200,000 investments. Additional fees apply for main applicant’s family members’ citizenship, due diligence checks and processing.

Just recently two more European states have decided to join the citizenship by investment club and got their piece from the industry’s ‘cake’. Moldova Citizenship-by-Investment (MCBI) program was officially announced in July 2018. Though in September 2017 amendments to the nationality law were passed in order to attract Russian capital in exchange of Moldovan passports, which enables its holder to enjoy visa free access to more than 121 destinations, including the EU. Those who desire to obtain Moldovan passport, have to contribute at least USD100,000 to the Public Investment Fund. The sum increases to USD115,000 if the main applicant’s spouse also applies and to USD145,000 in case of family of four. Applicants are also required to pay government fees(USD5,000 in case of the main applicant) and due diligence fees (USD6,000). According official information the processing time for the application will not exceed three months.

The other European country, which officially announced citizenship by investment scheme is Montenegro. Last weeks Government session concluded that the citizenship by investment program will be officially launched from October 1, 2018 and it will run for three years and application number will be limited to 2000. Applicants are required to donate EUR100,000 to Government Fund and make an EUR250,000 investment in less developed north of the country or EUR450,000 investment in a more developed center or the South of the country. Processing and due diligence fees are also applied to the applicant. Accepted applicants will be granted residency in a 3 weeks period of time and after 6 months the resident will be eligible to get citizenship. Montenegro is on of the fastest growing economies in Europe and has already joined the NATO. It is anticipated that by 2025 the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’, is Montenegro is nicknamed, will become the member of the European Union, thus making its citizenship even more attractive.

Experts argue that with its price value and requirenments Moldova and Montenegro will compete with the Caribbean and Vanuatu’s CIPs.

In July 2018 Egypt made amandments in it’s nationality law offering citizenship to foreigners who deposit at least 7 million Egyptian pounds (approximately USD392,000) and then hand it over to the Treasury after five years. But these amandments have to be ratified by the president.

Starting from February 2018 Jordan officially runs citizenship by investment scheme. Investors are offered several options to be eligible for citizenship and the price is starting from USD1,5 million. Investors can obtain permanent residency in Jordan if they buy a property, which costs at least USD282,000 and keep it for at least ten years.

Turkey is another country which runs its citizenship by investment scheme. The applicant will first receive permanent residency before getting full citizenship after a few years’ time. The value of Turkish CIP starts from USD 1 million investment.

The world is witnessing that citizenship by investment market is growing rapidly and probably in the coming years more and more states will join the ‘CBI club’.

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