Family’s difficulties with the naturalisation process in Estonia
Reymond and Mari consulted with an Estonian immigration lawyer and realised several important inconsistencies.
One of the mandatory conditions to pass through naturalisation successfully is to prove Estonian language knowledge at the B1 level. The test results showed that all family members knew Estonian not good enough to obtain citizenship.
The elder daughter Christina enrolled in a university in the USA. Therefore, she couldn’t come back to Estonia to live there and qualify for permanent residence and citizenship in the future.
An undesirable condition was the requirement to renounce South African citizenship.
The family owned an immovable commercial and residential property in South Africa. In addition, Reymond and Mari considered possibly returning to Cape Town when the children became independent. The children themselves did not exclude that they could live and work in their homeland or at least travel without visas.
Thus, our clients almost lost interest in obtaining citizenship by naturalisation in Estonia. The refusal probability would be too high if they still applied for Estonian passports.
Searching for options with Immigrant Invest
Reymond turned to Immigrant Invest for advice to determine if he and his family could obtain EU citizenship by investment. We offered to consider programs for obtaining Cyprus and Malta citizenship.
Some of our clients have already received a European residence permit, using government investment programs in Spain, Portugal and Greece. However, this status needs to give more rights to its owners when applying for work and other essential life nuances. After some time living in the EU, it is logical that our clients begin to think about obtaining European citizenship.
Even having a residence permit, you can apply for citizenship only after 5—10 years of permanent residence in the country. The specific period depends on the country. You must also add the time the application will be considered, and the local authorities will decide. And it may take another several years.
Head of the Legal Department, lawyer, PhD in Law
The Malta and Cyprus immigration policy does not require foreigners to give up their passports in the country of first citizenship. But they offered simplified paths to becoming citizens by investing in the country's economy.
Malta citizenship under the Individual Investor Program. Foreigners couldn’t choose among several investment options. Each investor followed the same participation rules and fulfilled three mandatory investment conditions:
- Contribute to a state fund of Malta — €650,000.
- Buy government bonds — €150,000.
- Buy or rent residential real estate — €350,000 for purchase, or €16,000 per year if renting a property.
The Malta Individual Investor Program Agency updated the country’s citizenship law and closed the investment program in 2020
Since November 20th, 2020, there has been only one path to citizenship for investors —obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
Cyprus citizenship. To obtain a passport, foreigners must invest at least €2 million in residential real estate.
Alternatively, investors can buy commercial real estate for €2 million or invest the same amount in government bonds and alternative investment funds. But they must purchase a house for at least €500,000 in any of those cases.
Investments are returnable after 3 years. However, the investor should own the property in Cyprus worth at least €500,000 for life.
The process of obtaining passports was 6—8 months. Applicants needed to visit the country two times.
Cyprus citizenship by investment program was closed on November 1st, 2020
The Cyprus Golden Visa is still available for investors. Under its conditions, non‑EU citizens can obtain Cyprus permanent residence by investing at least €300,000 in real estate or securities.
Why investor preferred Malta Individual Investor Program
After a detailed review of both programs, Reymond and Mari chose Malta citizenship. The investor could rent the property instead of buying it. Also, they liked the opportunity to communicate in English as a second official language in Malta.
Besides, one of the Malta passport benefits is visa-free travelling to the US. It was relevant for the family since the eldest daughter studied in the States. With Malta passports, the parents could visit her anytime without considering obtaining visas.
In addition, the Maltese passport allowed investors to enjoy the following benefits:
- live in Malta or any other 26 EU states;
- have access to leading healthcare institutions;
- provide a high-class education for children in Europe and the US;
- purchase a second home;
- enjoy the warm summers and moderate winters;
- easily communicate through English as an official language;
- have infinite profitable investment property options;
- no more visa applications or Schengen visa blocks in case of instability.
Selected property for renting by Reymond
The applicant needed more time to be ready to buy the property. Raymond planned to live in Malta in a rented apartment, look around and eventually buy an apartment or house with ideal parameters for their family.
Under the Malta Individual Investor Program, an applicant can choose any residential property, no matter the cost of getting a residence permit. After Due Diligence is completed and before obtaining a passport, it will be necessary to select a property for a sufficient amount under the program.
Also, investors can rent an apartment suitable for obtaining a passport with a minimal annual price of €16,000.
Reymond decided to rent the property on the first coastline in Malta. He came to the island and agreed to a €2,000 monthly payment to fulfil the investment program conditions.
Example of a property in Malta
Obtaining process under Malta Individual Investor Program
After concluding a contract with Reymond, we immediately began the procedure for obtaining Malta citizenship.
Our client was impressed that he received a residence permit in Malta after 1 month. Meanwhile, that was a mandatory step in applying for citizenship, as Identity Malta creates all the conditions for passport applicants to come to the country and get to know it.
Preparing documents for passing the Due Diligence also took a little time in the second stage. In Estonia, all our clients' documents were already prepared, and in South Africa, we promptly helped collect documents.
In general, after 14 months, the family received Malta citizenship. No snags and problems in the process have arisen.
All family members passed an initial check against international legal and business information databases. Reymond and Mari were also checked for harmful or compromising information materials on the Internet.
One day later, a certified Anti Money Laundering Officer concluded that the client could participate in the Malta Individual Investor Program with minimal denial risk.
Identity Malta carried out verification concerning the main applicant. As part of this process, the Maltese police conduct background checks and conduct searches of the Europol and Interpol databases. As soon as our company, as an agent, received permission from the police, we began preparing an application for the program.
Immigrant Invest’s lawyers made a list of needed documents for the application:
- Certificate of no criminal records.
- Birth certificate for parents and children.
- Marriage certificate.
- Wealth history for the main applicant.
- List of assets — real estate, owned companies, securities, deposits.
- List of affiliated companies where the investor is a direct or indirect shareholder or a director.
Raymond brought the documents confirming that the eldest daughter depends on the applicant to include her in the forms. It was a bank statement with money received by Christina as payment for their study in the US and other costs for their living.
Reymond selected a beautiful apartment to lease in a new residential complex and signed an agreement with the owner.
Reymond provided an insurance certificate for all family members, with worldwide coverage, including hospitalisation. The minimum amount of coverage was €50,000 per person.
At this stage, Raymond paid an administrative fee for issuing residence permit cards:
- €5,000 — payment for the residence card of the main applicant;
- €1,000 — payment for residency cards for each other family members.
The Malta residence permit card is issued for 18 months, which can be subsequently extended only within the framework of the program and for participation in it.
Within 3 working days after applying, Identity Malta issues an invoice for payment of government and Due Diligence fees.
Identity Malta sends us a letter confirming the registration of the application and assigning a registration number to the main applicant. Raymond paid €10,000 for an investment of €650,000.
Due Diligence fee, depending on family member:
- €7,500 — payment for the main applicant;
- €5,000 — payment for a spouse;
- €5,000 — for daughter over 18;
- €3,000 — payment for daughter under 18;
- €0 — payment for daughter under 13.
Additional information may be requested from Identity Malta during the application review and Due Diligence process. Requests can relate to any area: explain business activities and provide other financial documents.
Reymond and Mari provided an exhaustive list of documents. Immigrants Invest got approval at the end of Due Diligence.
Contribution amount depending on family member:
- €640,000 — contribution to the state fund of Malta;
- €25,000 — payment for a spouse;
- €50,000 — for daughter over 18;
- €25,000 — payment for the first daughter under 18;
- €25,000 — payment for the second daughter under 18.
The bonds can be redeemed through a Maltese broker in 5 years. Immigrant Invest Company supports the redemption of bonds through the Exante broker. The applicant does not need to travel to Malta to purchase the securities.
At this stage, the investor needs to confirm the connection with Malta. One way is to stay on the island for at least 21 days. Raymond has been in Malta with his family throughout the entire process of obtaining a residence permit and citizenship.
Submitting biometrics and taking an oath
After receiving the invitation, Raymond chose a convenient date for taking biometrics and the oath. We will reserve the next convenient date for the client. It will take several hours to go through the whole procedure. The oath is read aloud by each applicant in English and signed.
One year after obtaining citizenship and every year for the first 5 years, Immigrant Invest layers inform Identity Malta about the client’s compliance with the investment conditions.
Raymonds’s family feedback after obtaining Malta citizenship
Our clients have already travelled to the US to visit Christina without obtaining additional travel documents. Two other daughters were enrolled in an international school in Malta.
In an English-speaking country, it was easy for Raymond to find a job in one of the private clinics and get promoted. They continued discovering the country with his wife and planned to buy a house in another Malta region.
What benefits did Reymond’s family enjoy after obtaining Malta citizenship:
- Living in South Africa and Estonia → Living in South Africa and 26 EU states.
- Renunciation of first citizenship → Opportunity to have two passports.
- Studying in Europe by providing additional documents → Studying in any EU country.