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Citizenship By Investment – 5 Attractive Countries for Entrepreneurs and Investors

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Citizenship by investment (CBI) and residency by investment (RBI) programs are popular with entrepreneurs and investors. These programs allow individuals to obtain citizenship or residency rights.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors keen to get a second passport choose the CBI program.

The CBI market has become a billion-dollar industry, with $2 billion invested in 2022.  This article is a guide to the CBI program.

What is CBI?

Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is a legal process through which individuals can acquire citizenship of a country by making a significant financial contribution to that country. Typically, these programs are offered by certain countries as a means to attract foreign direct investment and generate revenue.

What do investors get in return for their investment?

Citizenship and a passport are prizes for making a financial contribution to a government fund, investing in real estate, or creating jobs in the country. The investment required can range from hundreds of thousands to several million dollars, depending on the country and the program.

Some of the reasons business people give for ‘paying for citizenship include:

  • Security – some countries are safer
  • Movement – visa-free travel in more countries
  • Investment – the genuine interest in more investment options
  • Tax and Politics – favourable tax conditions and political stability

Anti-Money Laundering (AML)

The qualification rules for citizenship by investment include background checks specifically for anti-money laundering (AML).

Investopedia provides a layperson’s overview of AML, including a commitment from governments and businesses to know your customer (KYC) to prevent profits from crime.

5 Attractive Countries For CBI

There are only 15 countries offering citizenship by investment. This article looks at five countries and how their CBI application process works.

1. St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts and Nevis are a few countries offering a cheap program for investing in a second passport in the Caribbean. The process of acquiring a St Kitts golden visa can include a couple of options to choose from once the application paperwork is complete:

  • Purchase real estate for $270K+ and own it for 7 years+
  • Or buy real estate for $400K+ and own it for 5 years+
  • or donate $150K+ to the SGF – (Sustainable Growth Fund) as an individual

The benefits of enjoying St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship require no minimum stay in the country at the time of your application.

Plus, you can enjoy visa-free travelling to 157 countries, including Russia, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc., and a short processing time for your application, which is 3 to 6 months.

2. Montenegro

Montenegro is a country still on the list to join the European Union. The Montenegrin passport does not allow you to work within the Schengen Area for more than 90 days. However, one of the main benefits of having this passport is the visa-free travel to 120 countries. Additionally, you can obtain a visa within 3 months and enjoy its natural beauty.

However, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll still need a visa to enter Ireland and the UK and an E-2 visa for the United States.

Favorable Tax Rates

The taxation system in Montenegro is favourable for every citizen. And the real estate market is booming in the region. Here are some insights on the tax:

  • The inheritance tax is 3%
  • The dividend and income tax is 9%
  • Real estate tax takes 0.1-1%

The investment options in this European country are:

  • 100K+ donations to the government in government-regulated bodies and entities
  • 250K+ in real estate – though this investment depends on the number of applicants

The Montenegrin citizenship by investment program is popular among investors for financial reasons. It’s worth looking into it quickly, though, as when Montenegro joins the European Union, its cost will increase proportionally.

3. Spain

Spain also has one of the best citizenship by investment programs, and by applying and becoming a citizen, you can instantly get a European residency. This visa will help you work and travel within the Schengen Area visa-free or obtain a permit on arrival. You can renew it after 2 years.

Permanent residency can be obtained after 5 years, while citizenship is applicable after 10 years.

So, what are the requirements for becoming a citizen via the investment route?

With a minimum investment of 500K euros in real estate, you might have additional costs due to taxes and fees.

4. St. Lucia

In 2017, St. Lucia amended the citizenship laws and decreased the costs of obtaining a dual passport. The law made the country one of the most competitive in the Caribbean.

St. Lucia’s residency via citizenship by investment includes:

  • $100K as a contribution (government donation)
  • $300K investing in real estate

One of the main perks of becoming a citizen includes no required stay in the country during the application, visa-free traveling to more than a hundred countries, and a fast processing time.

5. Grenada

Grenada is in the CBI program, one of the best in the Caribbean, due to the benefits gained after obtaining the passport. The requirements for obtaining the passport are:

  • $150K as a contribution to the government
  • $350K investing in real estate

Application processing takes a few months, and you don’t need to reside in the country to get citizenship.

Many more countries offer Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs, including Brazil, a member of BRICS.  Brazil doesn’t expect the investor to renounce their current citizenship – they provide a second passport.

Second Passport

Citizenship is the main benefit; however, acquiring a second passport is equally attractive to business people, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Citizenship with a passport guarantees investors’ safety and that of their families. It is also often used to gain entry to a country that provides better education for their children.

Global mobility, enhanced living standards, and faster relocation in an unforeseen event are other attractive reasons for obtaining an alternative or dual passport.

Plus, for investing in commerce, there’s the ability to register and operate a business entity and enjoy favorable tax conditions.

With economic uncertainty due to high inflation, war, and political instabilities in parts of the world, maybe now is the time to consider one of the top 5 CBI programs or choose another country for your second passport.

Final Words

It’s essential for individuals considering CBI to thoroughly research the specific requirements, benefits, and risks associated with the program they are interested in. Plus get legal advise to ensure the country is complies with legal and ethical standards.

Entrepreneurs need to consider their brand reputation before electing a CBI program or setting up a business offshore.

Additionally, policies and regulations surrounding CBI programs may change, so staying informed about any developments in the chosen country’s citizenship laws is essential.