Elshan and Milana live in Baku. Elshan is a real estate investor. He has several assets in Azerbaijan. In addition, the couple often travels to Europe. Usually, they spend their vacation in Montenegro with the whole family: Elshan and Milana's son, Samir, his wife and two grandchildren.
The investor has started thinking about buying an apartment by the sea in Montenegro. An apartment where he and his family could live while on vacation and that he could rent out when being home in Azerbaijan.
Elshan has found out from his friends that he can buy real estate under the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment program and get a second passport. His friends became citizens of Montenegro with the help of Immigrant Invest in 2020.
A Montenegrin passport holder can travel visa-free to the Schengen area and stay there for up to 90 days in each half-year period. In addition, Montenegrin citizens can apply for the E-2 US to live and work in the United States. A Montenegrin passport will enable one to visit Montenegro, even in periods when tourists are not allowed to enter, for example, due to a pandemic.
On September the 23d, 2021, Elshan turned to Immigrant Invest on friends’ recommendation.
Preliminary Due Diligence check
Before signing a contract with Elshan, Immigrant Invest’s lawyers assessed the risks of the investor's application being rejected under the Citizenship by Investment Program.
Our certified Anti-Money Laundering Officer carries out the screening that allows us to identify any potential risks in advance and reduce the risk of our clients’ citizenship application rejection to 1%. The check is confidential. The investor only needs to present his passport.
head of the legal department
The preliminary Due Diligence check showed that Elshan has no criminal record or instances of visa denials. In addition, he pays taxes on time, his source of income is legal and is based exclusively on his real estate investments and rental income. That means Elshan can participate in any government citizenship program for investors.
The Montenegro citizenship program terms
Applicants must pass a Due Diligence check, make a non-refundable contribution to a government fund, and acquire a share in a real estate project. Also, an investor pays the Due Diligence check, the application, notarial and bank fees.
In 2021 the minimal cost of participation in the program was €372,000: €100 000 of which went to the fund, €250,000 to a real estate project and €22,000 — to other fees.
In 2022 the minimum investment amount under the Montenegro citizenship program increased by €100,000. Now an investor makes contributions to two-state funds — €100,000 each. After meeting the terms, an investor and his family members are eligible to apply for Montenegrin passports. The amount of contribution is the same regardless of the number of family members.
After meeting the terms, an investor and his family members are eligible to apply for Montenegrin passports. The amount of contribution is the same regardless of the number of family members.
Who can apply for a Montenegrin passport
- an investor with a proven legal source of income;
- an investor’s spouse;
- children, financially dependent on the investor.
Elshan wanted his son’s family to participate in the program too. But they are not financially dependent on Elshan — Samir has his own business, and he is the head of the family.
Immigrant Invest’s lawyers informed Elshan that there was a solution. Participation in the Montenegro citizenship program is possible through sponsorship. That means Samir could apply for the program as an individual investor, and Elshan would pay for his participation as a sponsor. But in that case, Elshan will double his costs.
Elshan’s budget was up to €500,000. He couldn’t afford sponsorship of his son’s family participation.
What real estate did Elshan choose
The Immigrant Invest’s lawyers showed Elshan objects he can choose to participate in the Montenegro citizenship program.
All objects are large resort complexes and hotels. An investor can buy an apartment or a share in a government-approved real estate project. Many hotels are in the final stages of construction or are in the process of commissioning.
The minimum cost of real estate an investor can choose to participate in the Montenegro citizenship program depends on the region. From €250,000 — if the object’s location is in the northern or central part of Montenegro, except for the capital Podgorica. From €450,000 — if the object’s location is Podgorica or the coastal zone of Montenegro.
Real Estate Chief Operations Officer
The Montenegro citizenship program does not set the term of real estate ownership. However, some real estate developers require investors to own the object for five years.
At first, Elshan looked at the program as an opportunity for a good investment — to get an asset and citizenship. Then he thought more carefully.
I want my grandchildren to travel to Europe, spend their holidays on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea with me and get the best education in the future. So I decided to sell the apartment and use the money to pay for Montenegrin passports for my son’s family. Anyway, I have plenty of time to buy an apartment in Montenegro.
53 years old, a real estate investor
Elshan chose an apartment in the project, allowing him to sell the object immediately after its commissioning. The investor decided that he would get his investments back and gives them to his son to let him participate in the program and get Montenegrin passports for his family.
Elshan chose a similar property. On-site, there are luxury apartments and private villas. The complex has a fitness centre, business centre and conference rooms, a spa and pool, as well as a restaurant and bar
How Elshan obtained citizenship of Montenegro: stages of the program
1. Collecting documents and opening escrow accounts. Immigrant Invest’s lawyers prepared and submitted a package of all the necessary documents and started opening escrow accounts.
An investor needs to open two escrow accounts for one application. One account pays a non-refundable contribution, and the other is for buying real estate. An escrow account can be opened in person or remotely by power of attorney.
Elshan chose a remote way to open escrow accounts. One of the Immigrant Invest’s lawyers signed contracts to open escrow accounts with the bank and the developer in Montenegro. The lawyer preliminarily checked the terms of the agreements and their compliance with the program's requirements.
The agreement with the bank on opening escrow accounts specifies the amounts that the investor transfers to the fund and the developer, as well as the recipients’ details. When the bank learns about the approval from the citizenship program department, it immediately transfers the money.
head of the Sales Department
It takes two weeks to open an escrow account from the date of signing the agreement with the bank. During this time, the bank conducts due diligence on the investor.
The process of the opening escrow accounts in Montenegro
2. Fulfilment of investment conditions. When the Montenegro bank opened escrow accounts, Elshan transferred money to them: €100,000 — to the fund account and €250,000 — to pay for a share in a real estate project. Elshan also paid €10,000 for Due Diligence and 25,000 € for administrative fees.
€390 000 — Elshan's expenses under the Montenegrin citizenship program
3. Submission of documents. Immigrant Invests’ lawyers transferred a package of documents, including confirmation of payments, to the Department of the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program.
The department has been considering Elshan’s application for three months.
4. Approval of the application. The program department has notified Immigrant Invest of the preliminary approval of the application. The lawyers notified the Bank of Montenegro, and the bank immediately transferred the money from escrow accounts to the accounts of the developer and the fund.
When the department received notice from the bank of the transfer of the investment, Elshan’s application was finally approved. The final step was to get passports.
5. Getting Montenegrin passports. To obtain passports, an investor and his family must pass biometric data in Montenegro. Elshan and Milana chose a convenient day, and Immigrant Invest lawyers signed them up for the procedure.
The Migration Department of Montenegro printed the passports within 24 hours after submitting biometrics. The next day Elshan and Milana received their passports from the department.
6 months to obtain a Montenegrin passport
Visa-free travel to Europe with a Montenegrin passport
Immigrant Invest's lawyers continued assisting Elshan: they advised him on the steps that he needs to take when he sells the apartment, and his son's family could apply for Montenegrin citizenship.
I’m thinking about buying an apartment in other European countries with a visa-free passport, not only in Montenegro. I cannot wait for my grandchildren to get passports too. So many things to show them the world!
a real estate investor
The family made plans to go on vacation to Italy and Spain. The children are happy to splash about in the warm sea.
Elshan and Samir want the children to get an education in Europe. With Montenegrin passports it will be easy for them to apply to European universities.