*Guest Post by Jay Rodriguez: Citizenship by Investment Programs (A Complete Guide).

There are many reasons to get a second passport, including increased global mobility, personal safety, and tax optimization for individuals and families. And the best route to obtain these is through citizenship by investment programs.

Second citizenship won’t oblige you to live in the country of your choice. It also offers the following benefits:

  • Visa-free travel to over a hundred countries, including the US and EU
  • Ability to register and run a business in another country
  • Citizenship for your family
  • Access to the same rights and privileges as residents, including medical treatment, education, and tax benefits
  • Ease of relocation to another country in case of any unforeseen event

Citizenship by investment: An overview

Through citizenship by investment programs, you can obtain your second passport by investing money in the local economy of your chosen country. You may do so by donating a certain amount to the government or government establishments, buying real estate, or by starting a business. However, getting citizenship in some countries is faster and easier than in others. For instance, you can obtain a Grenada passport in at least two months. However, it will take at least 12 months to get a Malta passport.   

How to get citizenship by investment: General guidelines and terms

Countries offering citizenship by investment programs have different conditions for issuing a second passport. The types and amounts of investment, investment terms, registration costs, requirements for investors, and the entire process of getting citizenship vary from one country to another.

The investment amount may consist of two parts:

  • A non-refundable contribution to the country’s economy 
  • An investment in a government-approved real estate, business, securities, or other assets

In addition to those, you will have to pay state fees, translation and legalization documents, and lawyer’s services. If you choose to invest in a real estate property, you may incur additional costs. The requirements for investors vary in different countries also. But generally, you need to show significant savings or sufficient income to support your family, if you intend to get them citizenship as well. The due diligence procedure is another important term you must understand. Otherwise known as a ‘reliability assessment’, this is a crucial stage of the citizenship by investment program wherein the local authorities will verify that your money has been earned legally.

Where to apply: 4 countries to consider

There are many countries worldwide offering citizenship by investment programs. But the Caribbean and Vanuatu offer the most attractive programs. Here’s a detailed outline to help you choose the country that suits your goals.

1. Grenada

The Grenada program is among the newest citizenship by investment programs for investors. It was introduced in 2013, offering a lower cost and faster entry for a second passport that allows visa-free travel to over 130 countries, including Russia and China.

Grenada is the only Caribbean country offering an investment program without country restrictions. All interested applications are welcome but are still subject to due diligence checks. You can also include dependents up to age 30, along with dependent parents aged 55 and above, provided that you can fully support them. Grenada also gives its citizens access to the USA E-2 treaty investor visa, wherein citizens of Grenada can operate a business in the US and live there. If you currently reside in a country without an E-2 treaty with the USA, getting a Grenada passport is your stepping stone to applying for a USA E-2 Visa.

Investment options:

  • Donate at least US$200,000 to the government
  • Invest a minimum of US$220,000 in a government-approved real estate development and maintain it for at least five years

In addition, you will have to pay fees and taxes. You must also have an outstanding character, high net worth, good health, and have no criminal record. Moreover, you don’t have to visit the country for an interview or even travel to Grenada to complete the application.

2. Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is among the most beautiful Caribbean islands with stunning beaches and a warm climate to enjoy year-round holidays with your loved ones. The country’s citizenship by investment program allows foreign nationals, including their spouse and dependents, to obtain citizenship in the country following some levels of investment. You can get your Antigua and Barbuda passport by following the strict guidelines of the pertinent laws and regulations. You can also add certain dependents post approval. This way, you won’t be spending a considerable amount of money initially.

Benefits of having an Antigua and Barbuda passport include:

  • Visa-free entry to over 130 countries, including the EU and UK
  • Freedom to reside in the country for any length of time
  • Lifetime citizenship
  • Stable democratic government based on the British parliamentary system

Investment options:

  • Donate at least US$100,000 to the National Development Fund
  • Invest in a designated real estate with a minimum value of US$200,000 plus payment of registration and other fees
  • Invest at least US$400,000 in an approved business
  • Invest a minimum amount of US$150,000 to the University of the West Indies Fund (this option is only available for families of six persons and more)

You won’t be required to travel to Antigua and Barbuda throughout the application process. However, you might be asked to visit the country, consulate offices, or one of its embassies to take the country’s oath of allegiance. Moreover, you are obliged to spend a minimum of five days in Antigua and Barbuda within five years after getting Antiguan citizenship. Otherwise, you can’t renew your passport.

3. St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program started in 1984, making it the oldest of its kind. A St. Kitts and Nevis passport allows visa-on-arrival or visa-free travel to over 130 countries, including Russia, Europe’s Schengen area, the UK, and Singapore. 

Other key benefits include:

  • Citizenship-by-descent to future generations
  • Inclusion of spouse, children below 31 years of age, parents and grandparents more than 55 years of age, and unmarried dependent siblings no more than 31 years of age and without children
  • Business opportunities

Investment options:

  • A donation to the Sustainable Growth Fund of at least US$150,000
  • Invest in an approved real estate with a minimum value of US$200,000

If you choose to relocate to St. Kitts & Nevis, there will be no personal income tax, no estate tax, no inheritance tax, no death duties, and no capital gains tax on your worldwide income. You can also live and work in other Caribbean community countries if you want.

4. Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a chain of 80 islands in the South Pacific whose official languages are French and English. It offers the only citizenship by investment program in the Asia-Pacific. The Vanuatu citizenship by investment program is among the fastest and simplest second passport programs available today. The application process can take about 2-3 months. The speed at which your file is approved will also depend on how fast you can gather your documentation and transfer the necessary funds. If you’re fast enough, your file can be approved in less than 40 days from when it was submitted.

Vanuatu citizenship offers full Ni-Vanuatu rights. There are also no restrictions on dual citizenship and no requirement to visit or live in the country to retain your passport. Citizenship is also hereditary, and their oath-swearing ceremony can be performed in convenient locations worldwide. But unlike other citizenship by investment programs, Vanuatu only offers one investment option – and that is through a government donation. US$130,000 for single applications, US$150,000 for married couples, and US$165,000 for a family of four.

Citizenship by Investment Programs: A Complete Guide Philippines

Enjoy the perks of a second citizenship

When comparing the different citizenship by investment programs, you must not only consider the amount of investment. You should also look into the quality of life offered by the country, requirements for investors, key benefits, and details on the country’s residence. Find a licensed agent who will help you know and understand all the nuances of these citizenship by investment programs and guide you throughout the application process. And when you’re ready to reside in your new home, move with ease by investing in relocation services.

Citizenship by Investment Programs: A Complete Guide Philippines

By Ameena Rey-Franc

Recognized as one of the Top Finance Blogs in the PH. Ameena Rey-Franc (founder of TTP) is a former Banker and BS Accountancy graduate turned Blogger, Keynote Speaker, and entrepreneur. Currently an RFP delegate, she is also the Author of a book about Financial Resilience and has held seminars for reputable companies like GrabFoodPH, Pru Life UK, VISA, JPMorgan Chase& Co., Paypal, Fundline, Moneymax, and many more. The Thrifty Pinay's mission is to empower women to LEARN, EARN, and be FINANCIALLY-INDEPENDENT no matter what life stage they are in.