The US passport is one of the most powerful in the world. It gives the right to visit 186 countries without visas, including the Schengen states and the UK. However, wealthy Americans have begun to increasingly obtain a residence permit in Europe, and some even renounce US citizenship altogether in order to become citizens of other countries.
The growth in demand among wealthy Americans for residence permit and citizenship programs is noted by experts in the field of investment immigration.
Why do US citizens move to other countries?
Americans are attracted by the opportunity to reduce living costs without compromising the quality of life. Those who renounce US citizenship are seeking to reduce their tax payments. To obtain a residence permit or citizenship, Americans most often invest in real estate.
The demand for investment programs is confirmed by statistics from the Immigration Services of different countries. Thus, in the residence permit program in Portugal, the number of participants from the United States has more than doubled: in the first half of 2022, 124 American investors became residents of the country. This is more than in all of 2021.
Demand among Americans for Greek property increased by 40% in the second quarter of 2022, according to real estate agency Sotheby's International Realty. Most of the investors bought properties in order to obtain a residence permit in Greece under the Greece Golden Visa Program.
The main reasons for the relocation of Americans
Rising property prices in the US. US home prices rose by 18.7% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to the US Federal Housing Finance Agency. The cost of residential real estate in the European Union grew by only 10.5% over the same period.
Compare the approximate value of a square meter for real estate in the US and European countries, which are the most popular among Americans. For clarity, we present the data in a table.
|Country||The cost of housing per m²|
Rising inflation in the US. Inflation in the US increased by 9.1% at the beginning of 2022. This is the highest since 1980. In the European Union, inflation is also high, but lower than in the US.
Depreciation of the euro. In July 2022, the euro fell below the dollar for the first time in 20 years. Therefore, Americans invest in European real estate in order to buy it at a favorable rate.
High taxes in the USA. By law, Americans pay taxes in the United States, regardless of where they live or work. Therefore, wealthy Americans give up their first citizenship in favor of countries with a more comfortable tax system. This way they cut their tax bills.
The number of Americans who renounced citizenship tripled in the second quarter of 2022, with 580 expatriates leaving the country. The data was released by the US Internal Revenue Service. Over the past five years, 1,473 citizens have emigrated from the United States with a net worth of over $2 million or an average annual tax bill of over $178,000.
How to get a residence permit or citizenship by investing in real estate
To live in Europe, some Americans obtain residency by investment or citizenship. This is the fastest way. The most popular investment option under residence permit programs is the purchase of real estate.
Greece issues a residence permit for a purchase in real estate in the amount of €250,000. The amount of investment in real estate is the smallest among the residence permit programs in the EU countries. The property is allowed to be rented out. In five years, you can get permanent residence and sell the objects. And two years later - to apply for citizenship.
Portugal offers investors a residence permit for the purchase of real estate from €280,000. This amount is provided for objects over 30 years old for renovation in sparsely populated regions of the country. Newer properties in other areas will cost the investor a minimum of €500,000. After five years, the investor can obtain permanent residence or Portuguese citizenship.
Cyprus issues permanent residence for investments in real estate from €300,000. Program participants can purchase one or two residential primary properties. It is not possible to invest in resale property.
Commercial objects are allowed to be bought in any market: it can be, for example, offices, shops, hotels, or a combination of them. After five years of living on the island, you can obtain Cypriot citizenship.
Permanent residence in Malta is issued for the purchase of real estate in the amount of €220,000 or rent for five years. The minimum rental price must be €10,000. The investor also needs to pay a one-time administrative fee, make a state contribution and a charitable donation, confirm the availability of capital in the amount of €500,000.
Maltese citizenship can only be acquired through naturalization through direct investment for exceptional merit. The minimum investment amount is €690,000. Investors fulfill three mandatory investment conditions:
- make a contribution to the National Development Fund;
- charitable contribution to a non-governmental organization;
- buy or rent property.
Investors first receive a residence permit for one or three years, depending on the size of the investment. Then apply for Maltese citizenship.
Examples of real estate in Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta
American investors also choose citizenship in the Caribbean for advantageous tax residency. In all Caribbean countries, except Saint Lucia, you do not need to pay taxes on dividends, interest and royalties. Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis also have no income tax.
Wealthy Americans are interested not only in European, but also in Caribbean passports. For investments in real estate in the Caribbean, they receive citizenship and related tax benefits.
Retirees stand out: they even renounce US citizenship in order to move to the Caribbean. For them, Caribbean citizenship is an opportunity to take a well-deserved vacation and live in a tropical country by the sea.
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The conditions for Caribbean citizenship programs are similar. The governments of the Caribbean countries offer foreigners several investment options to choose from: a non-refundable contribution to the state fund, the purchase of real estate or bonds, and opening a business on the islands.
|Country||Investments||Term of receipt|
|Antigua and Barbuda||From $100,000||3-6 months|
|Dominica||From $100,000||3-6 months|
|Saint Lucia||From $100,000||3-4 months|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||From $150,000||2-6 months|
|Grenada||From $150,000||4-6 months|
Examples of investment properties in the Caribbean
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the EU and the Caribbean. If you want to obtain a residence permit or citizenship for the purchase of real estate, please contact investment program experts for advice.