CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT
Comparison of Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
The fastest way to get permanent residence is to apply for permanent residence in Malta by investment.
The procedure takes 7-9 months. In contrast, obtaining permanent residence by naturalization takes 5 years and is subject to passing a language test.
Portugal, Austria and Britain can issue residence permits in exchange for investment in 4-10 months.
This is one of the main advantages of citizenship by investment programs! You do not need to live in the country of second citizenship either before or after obtaining a passport.
Such programs have their own characteristics; however, they cannot be compared with the residency requirements for obtaining a passport by naturalization (8-12 years).
For example, after obtaining an Antigua and Barbuda passport by investment, you need to visit the island for just 5 days in the first 5 years.
To obtain EU citizenship (Maltese passport), the applicant is first given a residence permit card. However, even at this stage, the applicant is not required to reside in the country of second citizenship.
Therefore, having received a second citizenship by investment, the choice of the country of your residence becomes your right rather than an obligation.
Each program should be considered comprehensively and analyzed to fit your goals and objectives.
If your goal is to obtain a second citizenship or residency abroad for the whole family, including your parents, then you should note that only the main applicant’s parents are allowed to participate in the Maltese citizenship by investment program.
Applicants should also be aware of the following feature of citizenship by investment in Cyprus: Although a large part of the initial investment can be sold 5 years after obtaining a passport, nonetheless, real estate worth €500,000 has to be maintained in the investor's ownership for life.
The Grenada citizenship by investment program is the only one in the world that allows the main applicant’s brothers and sisters to participate. In addition, it offers Visa-free access to China and Grenada citizens are eligible to apply for a business visa to the United States.
As for the Antigua and Barbuda passport, holders need to spend just 5 days in the country in the first 5 years after receiving their passport in order to renew it.
Each program has its own characteristics and it is important to select the program that suits your goals and requirements. Therefore, it is important to compare programs and understand all the details of the program you select before submitting your application.
The fastest way to obtain citizenship is to take part in the citizenship by investment program.
In the Caribbean, applicants can get a passport in 4-6 months.
In Malta, the passport application procedure takes 12-14 months, and in Cyprus and Montenegro, passports can be issued in 6-7 months.
You can read why it is worth investing in a second passport here.
When selecting a program, you need to ask yourself a few key questions:
- What do I need a second citizenship / residence permit / permanent residence for?
- Who is eligible to apply for a second citizenship / residence permit / permanent residence with me?
- Are you considering moving to another country or looking for an opportunity to travel freely?
- Do I need to live in the country before or after obtaining a second passport or residence permit?
- What opportunities does a passport or a residence permit by investment offer me?
- What responsibilities arise after obtaining a second citizenship or a residence permit?
- Do I want to change my tax residency? Do I want to optimize my taxation policy?
- Where do I want to invest?
- Is it possible to recoup or make a profit from the initial investment?
You can read about the process of choosing a citizenship / residence permit program by investment for the whole family in our case studies.
A residence permit can be obtained for a specific purpose: investment program, working residence permit, student residence permit, residence permit for family reunification, etc.
A residence permit is temporary. As a rule, it is issued for a period of 1 year and can be renewed as long as certain requirements are met. These requirements differ depending on the holder’s original purpose for obtaining a residence permit.
A number of restrictions may be imposed on the holder of a residence permit. For example, they cannot participate in elections, hold public office, look for work in the country, etc.
In contrast, permanent residence is permanent. It gives the holder the same rights in the country as the citizens of this country, apart from voting and working in government offices. Moreover, permanent residence cards are issued for 5 years and can be renewed without presenting any new documents, apart from updating the biometric data.
Citizenship provides the maximum number of benefits. These include the ability to live in the country without any restrictions, and sometimes it gives the holder the right to also live in other countries (for example, with a Maltese passport, you can live in any EU country).
The process of obtaining a passport, as well as the requirements for citizenship by naturalization and by investment, differs significantly. The main differences are the amount of financial contributions, the residency requirement, the processing period, and the requirements for language exams.
In order to obtain a passport by investment, the applicant has to pass a strict Due Diligence check, make the stipulated investment, and must continue to meet the requirements set out in the program. However, they usually do not have to sit language requirement exams or reside in the country for 10 years.
At the same time, a passport by investment cannot be distinguished from a passport by naturalization. There is no difference in the color of the passport, nor are there any special notes stating how the passport was obtained.
Holders of passports by investment, like naturalized citizens, have the same rights as local citizens. The only point to note is that if you want to become a civil servant or participate in elections, you may need to fulfill the conditions related to the residency requirement: usually 2-3 years.
You will not have dual citizenship, but you will have a second citizenship!
Dual citizenship is obtained in only a limited number of special cases.
Dual citizenship implies that a person is not only a citizen of two countries, but also that the authorities of both countries are aware of this and recognize the rights and obligations of “their” citizen in relation to the other state.
If you receive a passport by investment, you have a second citizenship.
You can read more about second citizenship here.
A residence permit, permanent residence and citizenship allow the holder to stay in the country for an unlimited amount of time or be absent. They all give the holder the right to access the state’s medicine and education systems, choose tax residency, open an account in a local bank, and start a business.
The rights for holders of a residence permit and permanent residence are limited to a specific country, while a second passport offers the maximum number of rights, which are not necessarily limited to a specific country.
The holder of a second citizenship of an EU country, for example, Malta, can reside in any EU country for an unlimited period of time. This provides additional opportunities for tax optimization, their children's education, and expanding their business horizons. In addition, a Maltese passport gives you the right to visit the United States and dozens of other countries without a visa.
Passports of the Caribbean countries offer the holder the opportunity to visit hundreds of countries, including the Schengen countries and the UK without obtaining a visa.
At the same time, a Grenada passport gives an additional advantage: the opportunity to obtain a long-term business visa in the United States.
You can read more about these rights in our article.
The main responsibilities are to comply with the laws of the country, not violate public order or pose a threat to society, and comply with the visa requirements of other countries.
However, there are also a number of special responsibilities imposed on applicants for investment programs. They must make the investment stipulated in the program and maintain it. For example, under the Malta permanent residency program, the requirement to rent or buy real estate must be met for 5 years after obtaining the residence permit. The residence permit by investment in Portugal is extended as long as the holder continues to own the purchased property. Failure to meet the obligation to hold their investment can lead to the residence permit being revoked and loss of the original investment.
More features of citizenship and residence permits by investment can be found here.
Obtaining a residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship by investment does not automatically change your country of tax residency. The choice of where to pay taxes will largely depend on you.
As a general rule, in order to become a tax resident in a country, you must reside in that country for at least 183 days a year. At the same time, in order to be able to live in the country for six months in a year, you need to have a residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship.
If naturalization requires you to be a permanent resident in the country, then you no longer have a choice: residence permit / permanent residence / citizenship = tax resident.
Investment programs provide a unique opportunity to optimize your tax obligations. When fulfilling the requirements for staying in the country, you can choose where you pay taxes: in the country of your first citizenship or the country of your second citizenship. At the same time, dozens of signed agreements on avoidance of double taxation make it possible to pay tax only in one country.
In either case, you become a citizen of the country. As a citizen of a new country, you have all the rights that naturalized citizens have. The only exception is the right to hold government or elected office and participate in elections; however, you can also get these rights after living in the country for several years.
An EU passport makes it possible to reside in any EU country for an unlimited amount of time, choose the country of tax residence and travel to hundreds of countries without visas (including the United States and Britain).
A Caribbean passport also allows the holder to travel visa-free to hundreds of countries. Among the visa-free countries, Caribbean citizens can visit Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any six-month period and the UK for 6 months in a year. This passport also allows the holder to apply for a 10-year US visa, and Grenada passport holders can also apply for a long-term US business visa.
A second passport gives you the opportunity to register accounts and assets in your name all over the world and also start a business.
As second passport holders have to undergo a strict Due Diligence check, they are not considered a threat to the law and order of the country and the source of their funds are deemed legal. This makes it much easier for them to conduct business.
For example, the holder of a Malta passport can start a business in Germany.
Contrary to popular belief, participation in the residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship by investment programs does not mean that the application will be accepted. Many applicants are confident that they can get a residence permit by making the required investment. This mistaken view is held especially in relation to the countries of the Caribbean. However, in reality, this is not at all the case.
Each applicant undergoes a detailed and deep Due Diligence check. This involves global companies with extensive databases. As a result, applicants trying to hide any information are often caught out and their application rejected.
Only the applications of investors with no criminal record, a clean business reputation, and who are fully in compliance with the law are approved. Each country pays attention to the security of its society and its international reputation.
You can read about what a Due Diligence check is and why it is so important to conduct a preliminary check in our article.
This is an important point.
Very often on the Internet you can find companies and individuals who offer to submit applications for residence permits or citizenship by investment on behalf of the applicant. However, only a licensed agent or certified lawyer in the chosen jurisdiction is authorised to submit an application for citizenship, residence permit or permanent residence by investment.
The investor will not be able to submit documents on their own. This is not only because the package of documents is quite complex, but even more importantly because the local laws state that such applications can only be submitted by a licensed agent or certified lawyer.
And this is the right approach. Agents are checked by the government to make sure they are following the regulations and regularly undergo training. This contributes to the professional preparation of the entire package of documents and reduces the time required for verification of the application by the state.
Important! Ask for confirmation of your agent's registration before signing any contract and paying for services.
You can find confirmation of Immigrant Invest’s registration as a state agent for citizenship and residence programs by investment here: https://immigrantinvest.com/en/about-us/
Investments for most programs are made after receiving government approval of their application. However, there are some exceptions.
To obtain a Maltese passport, you must conclude a purchase agreement at the time the documents are submitted. Moreover, at this stage, the role of the company representing you is especially important. For example, as a licensed agent of the program, Immigrant Invest only works with verified developers, so we always invite the parties to provide a bank guarantee prior to approval. In this way, the risk of losing your investment is minimized.
Montenegro’s program provides for the transfer of investment funds to an escrow account, which is refunded in case your application is rejected.