Citizenship by investment is a special type of program through which countries encourage foreign investments. In exchange for a certain type of investment or for starting a business, foreigners can obtain a second citizenship that may allow them to better meet their business and personal goals. Here are examples of 3 countries which offer citizenship by investment programs.
Ireland is an attractive investment destination because of its low corporate tax rate, talented and educated workforce and welcoming business climate.
The Immigrant Investors Programme was specially designed for non-EEA investors as well as their families who plan on making an investment in Ireland with the purpose of remaining in the country. There are a number of requirements on the type of investment made by foreign nationals, among which a key characteristic is that the said investment is a beneficial one for the country.
An attractive option is to seek citizenship by enterprise investment in Ireland. This means investing in an existing or a newly created Irish company for at least three years, with a minimum investment of 1 million euros. When investors choose to open a start-up company in which to invest, the said company must have its registered office in the country and be incorporated according to the country’s company incorporation laws. What’s more, the company must offer new jobs and maintain employment. First-time investors in Ireland who plan on applying for the citizenship by investment program and have chosen to open a new, qualifiable business, can seek the help provided by a team of Irish company formation agents.
Another option for obtaining citizenship by investment in Ireland is through an investment fund, with a minimum of 1 million euros investment in an investment fund for at least three years. It is important to note that the fund must invest in Irish projects and businesses and must be approved by the Immigrant Investor Programme. An alternative is to make a minimum investment of 2 million euros in an Irish Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listed on the Stock Exchange.
An endowment of 500,000 euros to public project that concerns arts, culture, sports or health is also a way in which foreign entrepreneurs can obtain citizenship by investment in Ireland.
It is important to note that the application includes a non-refundable fee and the applications are only accepted between selected dates. A team of lawyers in Ireland can give you further information and legal advice on the relevant laws concerning immigration and on obtaining citizenship.
Cyprus has an attractive citizenship by immigration programme and also a fast-track approval scheme. Investors also have the option to make a simultaneous submission for their residency and citizenship applications. The country’s strategic location and the fact that it is a member of the EU, combined with the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle can be attractive for many foreigners looking to make an investment that will grant them citizenship.
The minimum investment amount is 2 million euros and the following types of investments are accepted:
- investments in real estate, infrastructure, development: a minimum 2 million euros investment in real estate, either purchased or constructed.
- Investment for forming a company in Cyprus: at least 2 million euros for the purpose of opening a company in Cyprus or as participation in existing businesses. When opening a company, the condition is to hire at least three employees and to prove that the business is a valuable one on the Cypriot market.
In order to qualify for the citizenship by investment programme, the applicant must also purchase a property in Cyprus that will serve as the main place of residence. The minimum value of that property investment is 500,000 euros plus VAT. When entrepreneurs choose to apply for the programme via an investment that includes real estate, only one of the properties must have a value of at least 500,000 euros out of the total investment amount of 2 million euros.
What’s more, Cyprus also offers the option to include the parents when applying for citizenship. Foreign investors who wish to gain citizenship rights for their parents will need to increase their investment amount by purchasing a private residence in the country with a value of at least 500,000 euros plus VAT.
Malta has lots to offer to foreign investors, starting with a Mediterranean lifestyle and high standard of living but also multiple investment options in the property market and tourism. Applicants who choose the Maltese citizenship by investment programme will have access to visa-free travel in a large number of countries and easy access to the Schengen area.
In order to be considered eligible for the individual investor programme in Malta, the applicants must not have a criminal record and should be in good health. The financial contribution that can be made in order to obtain citizenship includes a non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund. The amounts differ, the largest one being for the main applicant, followed by the spouse.
An alternative is real estate rent or purchase in Malta: the applicant must rent or own property for at least three years in the country. For those who choose to maintain their property ownership for at least three years, the property investment must have a value of at least 350,000 euros.
Maltese citizenship by investment can also be awarded to those who invest at least 150,000 euros in bonds, stocks, and debentures approved by the Government. The investment must be sustained for at least five years.
For those interested in a citizenship by investment program, there are a number of issues to consider when choosing the most suitable country. First, the actual eligibility criteria need to be realistic for the applicant. Meeting the special requirements is a given but there is much more to consider when choosing the country to invest in, in exchange for citizenship. The quality of life, visa-free travel for the citizens of that particular country as well as the actual naturalization process need to be taken into consideration.
Whatever your choice, it is advisable to seek proper legal counseling and advice from the local immigration offices. Understanding the terms and conditions for citizenship by investment is an important step.
These are just three examples of countries that offer attractive programs for citizenship by investment. Foreign entrepreneurs can explore the available options in several other jurisdictions, especially if they are considering relocating to the country where they plan on making the investment.
Also read: A guide to expanding a business in Asia.