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Choosing residency or citizenship for travel

One can get a residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship by investment. All these statuses give you the right to stay in the country of second residency or citizenship for as long as you wish. In addition, they provide various travel opportunities.

Let’s see which country and status is the best for travelling the world visa-free.

How can I travel within Europe with a residence permit?

Investment program countries: Malta, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria, Switzerland
Investment amount: €150,000+
Goals to achieve: stay in one country long-term and visit other Schengen countries without visas

A residence permit allows its holder to live in the chosen country for a stipulated time. It is usually valid for 1 to 3 years, subject to renewal.

People usually get residence permits to work, study, reunite with family members or for other compelling reasons. However, some countries issue residence permits to investors or financially independent persons.

Permanent residence is usually granted after several years of living in the country. But it’s possible to get it by investment in Malta and Cyprus.

Permanent residence is a life-long status. However, a permanent residence card must be renewed every few years — but less often than a temporary residence permit. For example, a Malta residence permit must be renewed every year, while a permanent residence card — once in five years.

Travel opportunities. Suppose you get a residence permit or permanent residence in Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, or Malta. Thus, you will be able to visit other Schengen countries without visas and spend there up to 90 days out of 180. 

A period of stay in the country of residence is unlimited and doesn’t count in a 90-day stay in the Schengen Area.

Portugal residence permit for visiting the EU without visas

Andrew owned a company that developed mobile apps. He wanted to expand his business to Europe and open a branch in an EU country.

To visit the Schengen Area, Andrew had to get a visa. He decided to get a travel document to gain free access to the region. 

The businessman chose the Portugal Golden Visa Program to achieve his goals. A residence permit allowed Andrew to register a business in Portugal, vacate in local resorts and attend European business conferences.

Read the full story

Relocation to the country of residence. Some countries require residents to come for a few days to maintain their residence permits or permanent residence. Others, like Austria and Switzerland, require their residents to spend at least six months a year on the country’s territory. We recommend such residence permits only to cosmopolitans who want to relocate.

Investors don’t have to live permanently in Portugal, Greece, Spain, or Malta to keep their residency. Relocation to the country of residence is a right, not an obligation. Investment programs of these countries are suitable for visa-free travelling within the Schengen Area. 

Terms of obtaining residency in Europe

Country and statusInvestment amountObtaining periodTravel opportunitiesMandatory residing
Portugal residence permit€250,000+ 8+ monthsLiving in Portugal and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free7 days a year
Greece residence permit€250,000+6+ monthsLiving in Greece and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free— 
Malta permanent residence€150,000+
If renting housing for 5 years
4+ months
Application processing time
Living in Malta and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free— 
Spain residence permit€500,000+2—3 monthsLiving in Spain and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free— 
Portugal D7 VisaNo investments are required. Applicants prove they have enough money to live in Portugal2+ monthsLiving in Portugal and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free6+ months a year
Austria residence permit for financially independent personsNo investments are required. Applicants prove they have enough money to live in Austria3+ monthsLiving in Austria and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free6+ months a year
Switzerland residence permit for financially independent persons₣450,000+ as a lump-sum tax6+ monthsLiving in Switzerland and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free6+ months a year

Cyprus permanent residence and an Andorra residence permit don’t provide the right to visit the Schengen countries without visas because these countries aren’t a part of the Schengen Area. Investors obtain residence in these countries to relocate, optimise taxes and do business.

If a resident has lived in the country of residence for several years, they can apply for citizenship. An EU passport unlocks visa-free entry to 170+ destinations worldwide.

How can I travel with second citizenship?

Countries granting citizenship to investors: Malta, Turkey, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Vanuatu
Investment amount: $100,000+
Goals to achieve: travel to the Schengen Area, the UK, the USA, and Canada without visas and get a 10-year visa to the USA

Some countries allow their citizens to have several passports. For example, dual citizenship is permitted in Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Malta, and Cyprus.

Laws of Austria and Spain prohibit having a second citizenship. To get a passport from one of these countries, a person must give up their first citizenship. 

A few states grant citizenship by investment. It is an easier and faster path: in this case, obtaining a second passport takes from two months to three years. As a rule, investors don’t have to take language and culture exams and, in some cases, even visit the country of second citizenship.

Let’s see how one can travel with dual citizenship.

Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship allows the holder to enter 90+ countries without visas. 

Caribbean citizens can freely visit the UK and the Schengen countries.

Vanuatu citizens can visit the UK without visas. In March 2022, the European Council partially suspended the visa-waiver agreement with the country: only citizens who obtained Vanuatu passports prior to May 25th, 2015, could enter the Schengen Area without visas. In November 2022, the European Council officially abolished the visa‑waiver agreement with Vanuatu. The decision is to come into force on February 4th, 2023.

The Caribbean passport allows its holder to qualify for a 10-year visitor visa to the USA, while Vanuatu citizens qualify for a 5-year visa.

Caribbean countries and Vanuatu don’t impose mandatory residence requirements on investors who want citizenship. One should visit only Antigua and Barbuda: an investor must spend at least five days within the first five years of citizenship in the country. 

Worldwide travel on retirement

Amal got retired and decided to spend his spare time travelling the world. He wanted to obtain second citizenship to save time on visas and bureaucracy.

We helped Amal and his wife to get Antigua and Barbuda passports. As a result, the spouses visited 13 countries within the first six months after obtaining second citizenship.

Read the full story

Maltese passport holders freely visit 186 countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and the Schengen states.

Malta grants citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment. It is a naturalisation path: an investor gets a residence permit and applies for citizenship one or three years later.

The Turkish passport provides visa-free entry to 100+ destinations, including Japan and Singapore. In addition, Turkish citizens can get a 10-year visitor visa or an E-2 business visa to the USA.

Terms of obtaining citizenship by investment

Country and statusObtaining period and investment amountTravel opportunities
Caribbean citizenship: 
Antigua and Barbuda
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
2 to 8 months

Visa-free trips to:
  • the Schengen countries — for 90 days out of 180;
  • the UK — for 180 days;
  • Singapore — for 30 days;
  • Hong Kong — for 90 days;
  • China — for 30 days with Grenada or Dominica citizenship.

Caribbean citizens can get B-1/B-2 visitor visas to the USA, valid for 10 years.

Investors with Grenada citizenship can open a business in the USA and get an E-2 visa. It allows visiting the States without limits on the period of stay in the country.
Vanuatu citizenship1—2 months

Visa-free trips to:
  • the UK — for up to 6 months;
  • Singapore — for 30 days;
  • Hong Kong — for 90 days.

A 5-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa is available for travelling to the USA.
Malta citizenship for exceptional services1 to 3 years

Visa-free trips to:
  • the Schengen and EU countries — without time limits;
  • the UK — for 180 days;
  • the USA — for 90 days;
  • Canada — for 180 days;
  • Singapore — for 90 days;
  • Hong Kong — for 90 days.

A Maltese citizen can get a 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa to the USA if necessary.
Turkey citizenship6—8 months

110 countries, including Japan and Singapore, are visa-free.

A 5-year C-2 Schengen visa is available.

A 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa and a 5-year E-2 business visa to the USA are available.

Besides travel opportunities, citizenship programs differ in the required investment amounts, time frames and conditions for the participation of family members. These criteria are also essential to consider when choosing the best-suited travel document.

For example, Caribbean citizenship is available to the whole family, including investors’ parents and siblings. In contrast, only investors’ spouses and minor children can qualify for Turkey citizenship. If getting a second passport is time-sensitive, Vanuatu citizenship might be the best choice, as one can get it in 1—2 months. 

Compare residency and citizenship programs to assess all the pros and cons and select suitable options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I travel to the EU with a residence permit?

With a residence permit of a EU country you can travel freely to other EU countries.

Is residency the same as a visa?

They are rather similar. A visa is a document that allows a foreigner to cross the border of a specific country or territory. It can be a non-immigrant and an immigrant. An immigrant visa is basically a residence permit that allows a foreigner to stay in the country for a long period, work or study there or perform other activities.

What is the best status for traveling?

Citizenship is the best status for traveling as usually it allows you to enter more countries visa-free. For example, with Malta permanent residence you can visit only 27 countries of the Schengen Area without visas. At the same time, Maltese citizenship gives you an opportunity to freely visit 185 countries.

Do you need a travel visa if you have dual citizenship?

That depends on the countries of your citizenship and on the country you would like to travel to. The stronger your passports are, the fewer countries will require you to have a travel visa.

For example, if you have dual French-Italian citizenship you can travel to the USA and Australia without visas. But if you would like to travel to Bhutan with the same citizenship you would need to apply for a visa.

Schedule a meeting

Let’s discuss the details

Schedule a meeting at one of the offices or online. A lawyer will analyze the situation, calculate the cost and help you find a solution based on your goals.

Zlata Erlach, Caribbean Investment Program Expert
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