There are two well-known ways of acquiring citizenship of another country: i) being born in the country, or marriage to a citizen and naturalization, or ii) directly investing in the country’s economy. The rules and conditions set to fulfil this task differ in every country. Usually, long periods of stay and family ties are essential in approving citizenship applications, even if the individual applying for citizenship has invested a considerable amount in the country’s economy. However, few countries grant citizenship only based on investment: Antigua and Barbuda, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malta, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Citizenship obtained by investment has numerous advantages compared with hereditary/marriage arrangements:
- Easing up global mobility and visa-free travel to a limited number of countries (depending on the passport index of the target country).
- Dual citizenship implies excellent safety and a quick solution to political unrest and war.
- Long-term benefits for the family of investors, such as receiving a higher quality education.
- Plenty of opportunities to invest in international real estate markets.
- Tax planning/reduction/waiver based on profits made worldwide – some home countries do not subject worldwide income to tax.
- Facilitating business transactions/affairs.
For these reasons and to safeguard the investor’s wealth, it is always advised to avoid dealing with brokers or institutes not directly affiliated with the government. Citizenship by investment can sometimes be granted in a relatively short period – up to three months. Here, we mainly focus on the benefits the countries listed below offer against obtaining their citizenship by investment. Besides, we have included the period it takes for approving citizenship to the government and the lowest amount an applicant needs to consider before applying for citizenship:
- Antigua and Barbuda– 3 to 4 months; USD 100,000 donation and USD 400,000 real estate investment. Antigua and Barbuda passports enable citizens to travel to 150 countries and pass citizenship to future generations.
- Dominica – 2 to 4 months; USD 100,000 donation and USD 200,000 real estate investment. Dominican passport is ranked as the 41st strongest passport globally, providing its citizens with visa-free travel to 122 countries, including the EU and UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The application is open to all countries.
- Grenada– 3 to 4 months; USD 150,000 donation and USD 220,000 real estate investment. Successful applicants holding Grenadian passports will have the opportunity to travel to 140 countries visa-free.
- Portugal– A minimum of USD 280,000 real estate investment. After five years of being a legal permanent resident, Portugal’s permanent citizenship is possible based on passing a language proficiency test. Legal residency does not signify residing inside the country. This is a massive advantage for those who do not intend to move to the country and would like to manage their businesses abroad.
- Kitts and Nevis – 4 to 6 months; USD 150,000 donation and USD 235,050 real estate investment. St. Kitts and Nevis passports plus visa-free travel to over 150 countries will be granted.
- Lucia– 3 to 4 months; USD 100,000 donation and USD 200,000 minimum real estate investment. St. Lucia citizenship is not hereditary, but citizens can travel to 145 countries visa-free.
- Turkey – 3 years, with strict rules to consider; a minimum of USD 250,000 real estate investment. Compared with the other countries in this article, Turkey has set stringent rules regarding obtaining its citizenship by investment. Citizenship applicants should consider at least USD 250,000 to start investing in Turkish industries/markets.
- Vanuatu– 2 months; USD 130,000 donation. Vanuatu citizenship provides visa-free travel to 130 countries, including the UK and EU countries, with no capital gain tax and language test requirement.
It is evident from the conditions above why citizenship by investment has recently attracted the attention of investors. Compared with the hereditary/marriage option, which can be not very easy and life-disrupting for many apparent reasons, citizenship by investment is a safe and relatively fast option. As mentioned above, the applications and rules vary in each country, but the countries we considered here have been recognized as the best citizenship by investment programs in 2020. To emphasize this further, we point out the specific reasons proving this point:
- Vanuatu is famous for its fast and smooth application approval – 20 to 30 days at their earliest – in the world and for granting a commonwealth passport.
- St Kitts and Nevis government require no residency and visit the country to grant a passport through this method.
- Lucia’s government offers investors the lowest fees for acquiring their passports.
- A Dominican passport demands the lowest investment fees, and no residency/visit to the country is required.
- Grenadian citizenship is ideal for investors who frequently travel (visa-free) to China and Russia or apply for a US E-2 treaty visa in the future.
- Antigua and Barbuda citizenship oblige applicants to visit the country for five days after their temporary passport expires. Once this condition is met, citizenship can be extended for another ten years.
- The Turkish government has eased citizenship by investment as the country has recently become an attractive destination for foreign investors. Investors can apply for citizenship through Turkish consulates across the world. Purchasing real estate is a popular way of obtaining a Turkish passport nowadays, as it does not require visiting Turkey. Applying for the US E-2 treaty visa is also a massive advantage of Turkish citizenship.