Introduction. What is citizenship?
The term citizenship refers to a unique relationship established between a person and his/her country. It is built on different factors, which vary depending on the country. However, the majority of modern countries accept the doctrine implying that these bonds form the moment the person is born.
Additionally, some countries even go as far as to entitle foetuses to citizenship rights (it’s called nasciturus) under the presumption that the child comes to this world alive.
The bond between a person and a state is based on two things. First, it is the country’s right as the sovereign to impose rules on everyone on its territory provided by the strength of its constitution. Secondly, the people, who are the building block of every country in turn have the right to demand certain benefits based on this bond.
These rights usually manifest in people’s possibility to vote, work, own property and dispose of it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the country establishes obligation rights over its citizens, which means that they must accept the laws of the state they live under.
What does Citizenship by Investment mean?
Citizenship by investment is a process of obtaining a citizenship of another country through investment. Countries supporting CBI programs offer different benefits and impose different conditions, but the final result remains the same: you get a second passport giving you every benefit country’s citizen by birth has.
Why consider getting a second passport?
There are a plethora of reasons why you should consider obtaining a second passport.
- First, It gives an opportunity to access the territories, which would otherwise require you to have a visa or other legal papers. You won’t need to wait months before they are prepared and ready to use.
- Secondly, CBI programs allow you to obtain certain benefits for life. Say you want to move to another country to work and make a living there. Citizenship by investment program can help you to do it in much shorter time than if you choose to immigrate.
- Thirdly, one of the main reasons why people resort to citizenship by investment is that it allows you to optimize your taxes. Certain countries double tax certain lines of businesses, but more than 90% are imposed by one state exclusively.
If your national taxes are too high for your particular line of work, moving to another country and relocating your business might prove to be one of the best financial steps you’ve taken.
Moreover, if a single person from your household obtains a citizenship of another country, your entire family can move there. Other members don’t need to go through the same procedure: after a certain period of time (depending on country) they become citizens too.
Differences between citizenship & residency
Simply put, citizenship includes residency. Being a citizen of a country, you have a permanent and in most cases unbreakable relationship with it, no one can dispute your rights. Additionally, citizens of a country are the only people entitled to certain rights, such as:
- a) allowance to work for the public sector;
- b) rights to vote or be voted for (whereas certain countries restrict residents’ voting rights);
- c) property ownership rights (citizens aren’t limited in how much property they own, while there can be certain limits for residents depending on their net worth).
Residency can be interpreted as a ‘trial version of citizenship’. Residents still can enjoy the vast majority of benefits citizens have, but most countries impose restrictions on work-related, voting, and property rights.
One of the biggest differences between citizen and resident statuses is that citizenship is always permanent by default while residency can also be temporary.
Main requirements for CBI application
Not everyone who’s managed to get their hands on a couple hundred thousand dollars or euro can simply show up to the administration and purchase their second passport. There are certain requirements for entering a CBI program. Even though they vary from country to country, certain similarities exist between all the programs. You’ll definitely need to:
- a) have a pristine clear criminal record;
- b) prove that your investment funds come from a legal source;
- c) choose a government-approved option (government bonds, real estate, direct investments, bonds, etc.).
How can I obtain a residency?
As an inferior form of citizenship, a residency is usually easier in obtaining than a citizenship. Each country lists a different set of requirements needed for getting resident status, but some of the most widely accepted ones are:
- certain amount of net worth (per head, not per household);
- investments in institutions and/or enterprises;
- passing both cultural & language tests;
- paying legal residency fees (initial and monthly);
- legal documents which prove that you’ve met the aforementioned requirements;
- clean criminal record.
We will talk about some of the best residency by investment programs a bit later. Before that, let’s find out what you need to do to actually obtain citizenship in another country.
How can you obtain citizenship?
There are many ways to become a legal citizen of a country. Of course, all countries have different requirements, but before we go any further, it’s important to explain the difference between Citizenship by Investment and naturalization, as these are the two main ways to acquire the status of a citizen.
Naturalization is the older form of obtaining citizenship. It takes much more time to become a citizen through naturalization than with the help of CIB program. This term means a process of transitioning from non-citizen to citizen. Here are some of naturalization requirements for most popular countries in the world:
The People’s Republic of China provides this opportunity to people who have a Chinese-national parent (or both) who never took residence in any other country. Stateless people (who are also called apatrids) or people without citizenship who’ve settled in China can also gain citizenship if they were born on its soil.
In France a resident can become a full-fledged citizen via naturalization only after 5 years of residence. However, the state can reduce this five-year period for certain groups of people:
- Those who have completed two-year studies and wish to acquire a diploma at French higher-educational institutions (can become citizens after 2 years of residency).
- Those who contribute to France’s standing in spheres of arts, sports, culture, academia, or culture (can become citizens after 2 years of residency).
- People who served or were volunteers in the French or any allied army.
- People who were given the refugee status can become legal citizens without any minimal-residency period (after the legal process is finished).
The rules of naturalization in Germany are a bit stricter in comparison to China and France:
- initial minimum of eight years of residency;
- seven years for those who’ve completed the integration course;
- three years of residency for people who are married to German citizens.
After fulfilling the residency requirements, residents also need to meet several other criteria:
- declaring allegiance to the German constitution;
- passing language tests with sufficient results;
- lack of a criminal record.
One of the easiest ways to obtain citizenship of another country is to get a second passport by investment. We will talk about the fastest citizenship by investment programs in more detail in the sections below.
Your options for citizenship by investment
One of the main conditions you’ll need to meet for CBI is choosing one of the government-approved investment options: real estate, government bonds or the enterprise sphere. Consult Apex Capital Partners for detailed info; here we’ll briefly talk about each option in general:
Each time a country launches a real estate project, it aims to attract foreign investors who can cover the initial expenses (so at later stages this project will attract even more investors).
Most people think of investing in real estate as a risky venture. However, certain countries offer the shared ownership plan, which basically means that you can be a totally passive investor, excluding any project management.
Buying or investing in government bonds stands on the polar opposite of investment in real estate. However, the trick to this option is that you will need experience and knowledge with stocks or help of a professional advisor.
Obtaining government bonds allows you to avoid risking your own capital and puts you out of the way of being involved in business enterprises.
The biggest downside to government-issued bonds is that the bond and stock market are usually pretty volatile and fragile. Even with the help of a team of experts, no one can predict the exact rise or drop in shares’ value, which means that you will potentially lose a big chunk of your fortune.
The enterprise sphere is perfect for big brands and companies who aim to branch out. By obtaining citizenship for another country (in certain cases residency can be enough), you will significantly enhance your business mobility, allowing you to cut plenty of logistics-related expenses.
What this particular option demands from you is to be engaged in creating business and employment opportunities in a certain country. For example, you will need to invest a certain amount of funds in the budget of a country and to hire a certain number of locals fitting the job description.
How do countries benefit from citizenship investments?
As simple as it sounds, countries need money invested in their economy so they can start projects boosting their long-term income. For example, it can be a real estate project, increasing the level of tourism, or getting rid of a chunk of debt.
Job creation, for instance, is a consequence of erecting new factories, so countries often welcome direct investments to squat two flies with one hit.
Best programs for citizenship by investment
Here we list some of the best citizenship by investment programs, as well as some of the best countries for citizenship by investment institute. So, let’s see what your options are.
Europe is a huge continent, and Apex Capital Partners currently offer help with Citizenship by Investment programs for Montenegro and Cyprus. Although these two countries are quite far away from each other, both have been prospering steadily for decades.
- Montenegro is easily one of the most popular Balkan states. Small investors love it due to its low minimal-investment requirement (€350,000) and decently reasonable citizenship acquisition time.
The most important benefits of investing in Montenegro projects are:
- low minimum investment requirement;
- reasonable citizenship acquisition time;
- perfect conditions for small investors;
- stable stock and government bond market.
- Cyprus is located right at the heart of Europe and offers the easiest way to obtain citizenship in European Union. Apart from being beautiful, this particular country offers great options for investing in real estate and enterprise spheres.
Some of the most notable benefits of investing in Cyprus are:
- Cyprus CBI program is remarkably simple and fast.
- Obtaining a Cyprus citizenship will allow you to enjoy the rights reserved for citizens of the European Union without need to actually be present in person in Cyprus.
- Some of the initial residency rights and benefits will be available the moment you start the application for citizenship.
- Getting a Cyprus passport usually takes between 6 and 7 months.
- Minimal investments start at 2,000,000, you will receive your citizenship rights after 3 month period.
The USA is one of the world’s leading giants in spheres of economy and tourism, and there are millions of reasons to invest in one of their projects. The residency ‘trial’ period is only two years, you don’t need to pass any cultural or educational tests, and there are so many projects you can participate in that your options are basically unlimited.
Currently minimal investments for USA citizenship are $500,000 for E2 and $900,000 for EB5 visas. EB5 visa provides permanent USA residency, and E2 is a great alternative, but this type is accessible only for those who are citizens of countries holding the E2 treaty with the USA.
The main benefits of gaining the USA citizenship are:
- no cultural or language tests (although you’ll need to pass a background check);
- plenty of options across all investment spheres;
- unique residency and citizenship rights.
Canadian citizenship offers a huge array of benefits, although the requirements are a bit stricter in comparison to the USA.
Notable benefits and requirements for CBI in Canada:
- Investing CAN$ 1,200,000 in Canada’s government while holding it for five years ensures permanent citizenship.
- Paying CAN$ 330,000 ensures citizenship after 3 years of residency.
- Perfect for big investors due to a plethora of enterprise-based opportunities.
Smaller Caribbean countries are a haven for small and medium investors. Apex Capital Partners currently provide help in obtaining citizenship through investment for Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Saint Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua.
- Dominica. Just like most Caribbean countries, Dominica is famous for its beauty and suitability for small investors. You will be able to become a Dominican citizen in a mere 4 months placing minimal investments.
Reasons why you should consider investing in Dominican projects:
- minimal investments of $100,000 for non-returnable donations, $400,000 for real estate;
- fast and easy CBI application process;
- perfect location in terms of logistics and access to the majority Caribbean countries.
- St. Lucia. The National Economic Fund of St. Lucia offers a variety of investment options for single applicants and families. One of the most important benefits of investing in Saint Lucia is that you will have direct access to all USA, European, and Caribbean countries.
Reasons why you should invest in St. Lucia:
- Direct investments to the NEF start at $100,000.
- Investments in real estate projects start at $300,000.
- After becoming Saint Lucia-s citizen you’ll gain access to Europe, the USA, and almost all Caribbean countries.
- Grenada. The Grenada CBI application is extremely fast, and you will be able to gain Grenada citizenship in mere 60 business days.
Main benefits of investing in Grenada:
- It is one of the fastest ways to gain Caribbean-country citizenship.
- Getting citizenship in Grenada is perfect for small investors due to low minimum investment deposits ($150,000 for single applicants, $200,000 for families).
- You’ll have an opportunity to merge your enterprise with co-applicants for the joint application process.
- St. Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts and Nevis might be a perfect option for you to place your investment if you wish the process to be quick and hassle-free. Though there are only two investment options available, both are very reliable.
Notable benefits of investing in Saint Kitts and Nevis:
- minimum of $150,000 donations for NDF and $400,000 for real estate investments;
- quick citizenship acquisition process;
- perfect for larger families as only $10,000 is added to the NDF donation per eligible family applicant, regardless of his/her age.
- Antigua. Antigua, just like Barbuda, offers you the option to become its citizen in mere 3 months by placing minimal donations of $100,000 for the national development fund or investing $400,000 in real estate projects.
Benefits of investing in Antigua:
- perfect conditions for small investors;
- low minimal NDF donations: starting with $100,000 for the family of four, fixed $125,000 for a family of five, plus the processing fee costs only $25,000;
- investments in real estate projects starting at $400,000 (you will need to hold your investment for at least five years).