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A Guide To Switzerland’s Citizenship By Investment

Aerial view of the Limmat River in Zurich, Switzerland

The postcard-perfect country of Switzerland is a delightful existence in itself. We have known the country to be an excellent choice for tourism, but there is so much more here. The Swiss society is blessed with exemplary living standards, foreigner-friendly local life, top-class educational services, and a highly rated business environment. Moreover, it has been a neutral country since 1516 and has acquired a prominent place in international affairs. This is evident from the fact that organizations and multinational companies are headquartered here.
Now, to become a member of this country, you may have to take a long road. But, the road has been evened out through its citizenship by investment scheme. While it does not cut short the citizenship acquisition process, it certainly makes it smooth for those interested.

To know more about the Swiss Citizenship by Investment Scheme, read below.

  1. The bifurcation of the scheme
    There is no direct route to becoming a Swiss citizen. The first route is called the Swiss Residence Program/Swiss Golden Visa, and the second route is called the Swiss Business Investor Program/Swiss Citizenship by Investment. The former requires a lump sum payment of CHF 200,000 (the amount can increase depending on the canton you live in), though you won’t be able to work under the said option. On the other side, in the case of the latter, the applicants will have to have a Swiss company or make an alternative investment in an existing Swiss company.
  2. More on the Swiss Business Investor Program
    Clearly, our focus is on the Business Investor Program. In addition to the above, the program requires an investment of a minimum of CHF 1 million. The said investment can only be made in a business approved under the program. In case you opt for setting up a company, you have to do so under the local laws. Furthermore, you will have to show that the investments made have provided benefits to the Swiss community in the form of job creation for the locals. Note that the investment should be made in the canton you will be living in and should be maintained throughout your residence.
  3. The eligibility criteria
    The eligibility criteria for the Swiss Business Investor Visa include the following:
    The applicant must not be a national of the European Union (EU).
    He should be at least 18 years old and not more than 55 years old.
    A consistent, clean criminal record will have to be maintained and proved.
    A case of good health for which medical records may be required to be furnished.
    The applicant must have a legitimate source of income with relevant proof.
    There must be a rented or owned property in the country.
    If you include your family in the application, then they will be subject to respective scrutiny as well.
  4. From Residence Permit to Citizenship
    Now, as I said, there is no direct jump to citizenship. Once you file your application and the same gets approved, the applicant will be issued a residence permit. The permit will be temporary, and the applicant will have to live for at least 10 years in the country to apply for permanent residency. As a permanent resident, you are required to live 12 years in addition to becoming eligible for citizenship. So, unfortunately, while the application does get fast-tracked, the timeline of the acquisition process is rather long. You can only gain citizenship by naturalization, and throughout the period, you will have to maintain your investments.
  5. What you will get in return
    You have to ask yourself what you will get in return for all the investments made and maintained all these years. Its basket of benefits includes freedom of movement in form of visa-free access to as many as 185 countries, a business-friendly environment marked by expedited administrative processes, availing banking facilities from some of the world’s most notable banks, and a balanced tax system that does not hurt investments.
    Also, with the residence permit, it will become a whole lot easier to purchase real estate in the country, otherwise notable for being a troublesome affair. You are also allowed to include your immediate family members (only children below the age of 18 years can be included) in the application.
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Sophie Ireland
SVP for News and Editorial Director. As CEOWORLD magazine's senior vice president for news and editorial director, Sophie Ireland oversees CEOWORLD magazine's journalism and journalists around the world and across platforms. She leads an award-winning team of journalists and newsroom executives who are committed to excellence, innovation and the highest quality reporting and storytelling. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn. Email her at sophie@ceoworld.biz.