April 21, 2021
Reading Time: 6 min

Who and how much in the world spent on participation in investment programs: a market overview for 2020

100 countries around the world offer wealthy people a residence permit or citizenship by investment. The minimum investment amount to participate in the program is from $100,000 to $2.4 million, depending on the country and type of program. Here’s how the pandemic has affected the demand for investment immigration and what offers are available in 2021.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Chief Development Officer in Immigrant Invest, lawyer

Citizenship and residence permit by investment: market analysis of investment programs

Who and how much in the world spent on participation in investment programs: a market overview for 2020

5,000 people annually receive citizenship by investment. Such data is provided by the Investment Migration Council, an international organization that brings together experts in investment migration.
Data from the Global Wealth Migration Review report specifies that participants in citizenship programs by investment account for about 30% of all dollar millionaires in the world.

In 2019, the top destinations for relocation were Australia, the United States, and Switzerland. The top 10 also include programs in Portugal and Greece, which allow you to get a residence permit by investment. We talked about this in the article "What countries do wealthy people choose to live in".

How the market for investment programs has changed in 2020

Revenues from citizenship and residence permit programs amount to 2 to 30% of the GDP of the countries in which they operate. At the end of 2020, global GDP fell by 6,9%, the GDP of the European Union by 6,3%. Therefore, countries are trying to attract more foreign investment in the budget to compensate for losses due to the pandemic.

The number of approved applications allows us to track the demand for programs.

Dynamics of demand for investment programs: approved applications


The graph shows the results of the most in-demand Caribbean and European programs, which have already made the statistics publicly available

State governments with active investment programs note that demand has increased by the end of 2020 and continues to grow in 2021.

How much do countries earn from investment programs

EU states earned 9.2 billion euros on programs from 2008 to 2018. The data are cited by the European Parliament Research Service.

9.2 billion euros

European Union countries earned on investment programs from 2008 to 2018

According to the latest data, investors added 647 million euros to the Portuguese budget in 2020. Another 126 million euros participants in the Portuguese program of residence permits have invested in the economy during the first quarter of 2021.

Investment in businesses on the UK residence permit program amounted to 432 million pounds sterling or about 600 million U.S. dollars. The amount is approximate: to calculate the number of approved applications and the minimum amount of investment — 2 million pounds sterling. But in fact, the country’s income is 15‑20% higher.

Grenada broke its own record: in 2020, the country earned nearly $100 million from the citizenship program. Antigua and Barbuda and Vanuatu are not far behind, with revenues of $115 million and $106 million, respectively.

Dominica’s citizenship program revenue was $1.2 billion for 2017‑2020. At the same time, the number of applications is growing every year. Between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, 2,215 participants in the program received a national passport.

Countries' income from programs in 2020, in USD million


UK and Dominica earnings are calculated roughly based on the number of applications and the minimum investment amount. All amounts are converted to U.S. dollars for convenience

Citizens of what countries most often get a second passport and residence permit by investment

80% of the participants in citizenship and residence by investment programs are Chinese investors. But this is an average figure, the data on individual programs will vary. According to statistics from the residence permit program in Greece, Chinese investors will account for about 73% of applicants, and in the residence permit program in Portugal, their number will fall to 30‑40%.

In 2020, demand for investment programs increased among the citizens of the United States, Hong Kong, and South Africa. The reason is the deteriorating political and economic situation in these countries.

Russians and citizens of CIS countries are also among the most active participants in citizenship and residence permit programs by investment.

6 countries whose citizens most often participate in investment programs




cn-flag China


in-flag India


hk-flag Hong Kong


ru-flag Russia and other CIS countries


mx-flag Mexico


br-flag Brasil

Increased due diligence is another trend for 2021

Demand for the program is formed by different factors: the cost of participation, the timing of obtaining a passport or residence permit card, the opportunities that the status opens. Experts of investment programs emphasize another parameter: transparency and legality of procedures.

Malta serves as an example of a strict attitude towards the due diligence of investors. About 25% of applications are rejected for non-compliance with the conditions of the law. However, the program department accepts applications only through licensed agents. They are responsible for ensuring that the applicant meets the requirements of Maltese citizenship law. We talked about this in the article "Why an agent’s license is important".

Immigrant Invest has been audited by the governments of Malta, Montenegro, Vanuatu and the Caribbean and is a licensed agent for citizenship by investment programs.

Immigrant Invest is also the only company in the industry with its own compliance department. Its specialists conduct preliminary investor due diligence

Pavel Reshetnikov

Pavel Reshetnikov,

Consultant, Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officer

The preliminary check allows us to identify in advance all possible risks that can affect the decision of the program department.

If we understand that for any reason the person does not meet the conditions of the program, we select another option for him or her or refuse to cooperate even before signing a contract for the provision of services. This way the investor does not lose money and time to prepare documents for a program for which he would most likely have been rejected.

Lawyers check helps to prepare a comprehensive package of documents for the application to the program department.

How to get a second citizenship or residence permit by investment in 2021

States with citizenship and residency programs offer different options for investing in the economy: purchase of real estate, gratuitous contribution, business development in the country. The minimum investment amount depends on the country, the type of program and the chosen investment option.

Citizenship in European countries. It is possible to become a citizen of Malta only by naturalization. One of the options is for special merit on the basis of direct investment. In this case, the investor first receives a residence permit, and after a year or three years can apply for citizenship.

Montenegro grants citizenship by investment in the economy of the country: €250,000 investment should go to the purchase of shares in the tourist property, another €100,000 — in the state fund as a non-refundable contribution. The program is valid until the end of 2021.

Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship is chosen for the possibility of visa-free travel to more than 130 countries, including Schengen and the United Kingdom. Travel is possible even during a pandemic, but you will need a good reason.

Residence permits in European countries. Portugal offers investors at once 8 different options for investing under the residence permit program. The most popular option — the purchase of real estate for € 500,000. The investor can rent out the object, and after 5 years to sell at a profit due to the increase in property prices.

Residence permit in Greece is issued for the purchase of real estate worth from € 250,000. Another option is to open a deposit in a local bank or buy shares of Greek companies. But in these cases, the minimum investment amount will be €400,000.

The residence permit program in Malta requires the fulfillment of three investment conditions. The participant of the program:

  • buys or rents a housing on the island;

  • Pays an administrative fee and a government fee;

  • transfers the money to a Maltese non-governmental organization.

Cyprus offers the opportunity to obtain a residence permit by purchasing: housing, commercial real estate, shares of local companies or units in investment funds.

Austria and Switzerland offer a residence permit to financially independent persons. Austrian residence permits are issued according to quotas: in 2021 there are only 450. Switzerland issues a residence permit only to those who do not plan to work in the country. The investor enters into an agreement with one of the cantons, and pays an annual lump-sum tax.

Residence permit in the UK is possible by investment in a local business. This can be the purchase of shares in British companies or the registration and development of their own business in the country.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent of European citizenship and residency programs by investment. If you want to get a second passport or residency status, seek advice from experts in investment programs.