2022

Reading Time: 5 min

Vanuatu citizenship through sponsorship when it’s impossible to transfer money from a personal bank account

With our business’s development, it started to demand more and more trips to Britain. The visa acquisition process was tiresome and time-consuming, so we thought about second citizenship to travel visa-free.

The problem was that our money was held in South African bank accounts. In our country, the transfer of funds abroad had been restricted for many years, so we could not pay for participation in investment programs.

Immigrant Invest lawyers advised us on the Vanuatu citizenship program, which had a unique sponsorship opportunity.

Luan and Elna

Luan and Elna,

Entrepreneurs from South Africa

Clients’ names and photos have been changed

Vanuatu citizenship: how to get a second passport by investment

Vanuatu citizenship through sponsorship when it’s impossible to transfer money from a personal bank account

The peculiarity of Luan and Elna’s situation

Luan and Elna are citizens of South Africa. They decided to get second passports as they wanted to travel to the UK visa-free. For this purpose, the citizenship programs of the Caribbean countries and Vanuatu were suitable, which required a minimum of $100,000 investment.

All the savings of the spouses were in accounts in South African banks. From South Africa, it was allowed to transfer freely only 1 million rands per year, which is about $60,000. The spouses had already used this opportunity to pay for Elna’s medical treatment in Germany. So, Luan and Elna couldn’t pay for participation in the investment program themselves.

Vladlena Baranova

Vladlena Baranova,

Lawyer, AML Compliance officer, certified CAMS specialist

We offered a way out of the spouses’ situation: participation through sponsorship. It is allowed by all citizenship programs.

Luan arranged with a friend who owned a business in the UAE for his company to become the couple’s sponsor and make an investment on their behalf. The peculiarity was that Luan had no connection with the company: usually, sponsorship is approved only in case the investor is among the founders or employees.

We negotiated this situation with the CBI Units of the investment programs. Vanuatu was the only country that allowed our clients to pay for the citizenship program through a third-party company, so Luan and Elna chose it.

Vanuatu citizenship program conditions

Under the Vanuatu CBI Program, an applicant must make a non-refundable contribution to a state fund to obtain a country’s passport. The minimum contribution amount is $130,000. Though, if a spouse is included in the application, which is the case of Luan and Elna, the contribution is $150,000.

The investor and his family members do not need to take language and cultural exams, live in Vanuatu or even come to the country. The entire procedure is remote and takes 1—2 months.

Vanuatu citizenship by investment

Vanuatu is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The pristine nature has been preserved here: volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls, and rare species of birds and animals

Preliminary Due Diligence

Before signing the Services Agreement, a certified Anti Money Laundering Officer conducted a preliminary Due Diligence check of Luan against international databases of legal and business information.

The check took one day. Luan’s financial history was clean: he had no criminal record, tax debts or visa denials. Immediately after the check, Luan signed a cooperation agreement with Immigrant Invest.

We agreed with the Vanuatu CBI Unit to sponsor through the company and prepared a sponsorship letter. The letter stated that the company would pay all investor’s expenses for participation in the Vanuatu program.

Stages of obtaining Vanuatu citizenship

Collection of documents for the initial Due Diligence. Immigrant Invest lawyers prepared Luan and Elna’s documents for check by the Financial Intelligence Unit, or FIU.

Investors usually need a passport, a certificate of no criminal record and a CV detailing their career and qualifications for an FIU check.

The official deadline for the check is 96 hours, but it usually is completed earlier. The FIU screening fee is $5,000 per application, regardless of the number of family members. Another $350 is bank commission.

Vladlena Baranova

Vladlena Baranova,

Lawyer, AML Compliance officer, certified CAMS specialist

The sponsor paid for the FIU check. For the Vanuatu bank to accept the payment under the citizenship program, we submitted copies of the sponsorship letter, the company’s founding documents and an extract from its bank account. The bank checked the documents within three days.

Collection of documents for participation in the program. Immediately after receiving approval from the FIU, Immigrant Invest lawyers began preparing the remaining documents for participation in the program.

Luan provided personal and financial documents. Immigrant Invest lawyers certified the copies, filled out the forms and attached the original sponsorship letter.

The main documents that the investor provided when applying for Vanuatu citizenship through sponsorship were the following:

  • copies of the passports from the investor, his spouse and a sponsor — the company’s shareholder;

  • birth certificates;

  • a marriage certificate;

  • the investor’s photos;

  • a certificate of no criminal record;

  • a bank statement from the main applicant;

  • applicants' education diplomas;

  • a certificate from work on the main employment;

  • a medical certificate, or Health Declaration;

  • a copy of the licence of the sponsoring company;

  • a copy of the shareholders' register of the company;

  • a bank statement on the company’s account for the last 6 months;

  • the company’s address and website;

  • a company sponsorship letter.

Applying for Vanuatu citizenship. As soon as Immigrant Invest lawyers had prepared a package of documents, the sponsor transferred 25% of the investment. The lawyers immediately sent the documents to Vanuatu.

Documents were reviewed in two stages: by the Screening Committee and then by the Citizenship Commission. The application processing took two weeks.

Application approval and fulfilment of the investment condition. The Vanuatu Citizenship Commission approved Luan’s application. Immediately after that, the investor fulfilled the investment condition by paying the remaining 75% contribution. The bank commission was 7%.

Luan paid the remaining investment amount from the sponsoring company’s account within the 90 days allocated for transferring investments.

The Citizenship Commission got confirmation of the money receipt and issued naturalisation certificates for Luan and Elna. The fee for issuance was $172. At the same time, the Commission sent a request to the passport office to produce passports.

Vladlena Baranova

Vladlena Baranova,

Lawyer, AML Compliance officer, certified CAMS specialist

The Vanuatu citizenship program is the fastest in the world. It takes up to 2 months to get a passport. The fact that the program sponsor was a company not related to the investor did not affect the time for obtaining citizenship.

This way of obtaining citizenship by investment is suitable for all those who cannot directly transfer money from a personal account abroad.

Taking an oath. To get a Vanuatu passport, one must take an oath. There are two ways to do this: fly to the country or invite the oath commissioner and the migration service officer to a place convenient for the investor. Luan and Elna took the oath as citizens of Vanuatu in London during one of their trips to the UK.

7 weeks and $166,022 were spent to get Vanuatu passports

1
May 17th, 2022

Luan and Elna contacted Immigrant Invest

2
+ 1 day

Preliminary Due Diligence

3
+ 3 days

Preparation of documents for FIU

4
+ 3 days

FIU Due Diligence

$5,350

5
+ 2 weeks

Preparation of the remaining documents for the program

6
June 14th, 2022

Application for Vanuatu citizenship

$40,125

7
+ 2 weeks

Citizenship application processing

8
+ 4 days

The sponsor transferred the investment to Vanuatu

$120,375

9
July 4th, 2022

Luan and Elna took an oath and received Vanuatu passports

$172

Luan and Elna’s opportunities with Vanuatu passports

Vanuatu passports have helped the spouses solve their main task. They can now travel to the UK as often as they need without a visa and are allowed to stay in Britain for up to 180 days in a row. And Vanuatu citizenship offers other benefits.

Before

After

❌ Necessity to obtain visas to visit the UK

✅ Visa-free entry to the UK and stay for up to half a year

✅ Travel to 95 other countries without visas

❌ All the savings in South African bank accounts that a subject to strict currency control

✅ Opportunity to open accounts in Vanuatu or European banks to gain freedom of movement of funds

❌ The business registered in South Africa with the need to pay a 28% tax on profit

✅ Opportunity to register a company in Vanuatu and get exemption from income tax for 20 years

Vanuatu citizenship by investment is the fastest way to a second passport and visa-free travel to 96 countries.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

This case was provided by our expert

Lyle Julien
Lyle Julien

Investment programs expert

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Zlata Erlach

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