Free Guide to Citizenship by Investment

We give you important tips and advice on what to look for in a passport from the best experts working in the field. Take a look below on the ultimate guide to citizenship by investment (CBI) programs.

This is a Free Guide to Citizenship by investment programs with lot of downloadable resources to make your decision. We give away all this for FREE!

Table of Contents

What is Citizenship by Investment?

Citizenship by investment (CBI) is the process by which investors are given fast tracked citizenship within months in exchange for investments in the country (eg. Donation to state, Real estate, buying state debt etc).

The established CIP legislation requires all applicants including family members are required to pass strict background checks including AML/KYC checks before being issued of passports.

Every country has established its own regulations. Some countries even dont require a physical visit, considering many CBI economic citizens, actually live in diaspora and do not immigrate physically to the second country.

CBI schemes are common referred as “Economic citizenship” in Americas , “Investor Citizenship” in Europe by the European commission. The news and media outlets call “Golden passports”, as many wealthy individuals have acquired second passports by investing.

How BIG is the Citizenship by investment industry?

Citizenship by investment is estimated by industry experts to be worth $5 billion annually with Cyprus receiving good chunk of investments. By 2025, the demand for investment passports are projected to double.

CBI Investments
CBI Annual investments by country/region in Billions of US dollars

Revenues from Citizenship by Investment (CBI)

The Revenues from Citizenship by investment schemes has amassed a total of $15 billion until so far, according to our calculations we did from various financial and news reports.

CBI Revenues
Top 5 countries with highest CBI Revenues, according to our calculations. Please note official figures is not published by some countries in the Caribbean.

The three Biggest CBI schemes are

  1. Cyprus
  2. Turkey
  3. St Kitts and Nevis
CBIRevenues*
Antigua$287 million
Dominica$675 million
Grenada$170 million
Saint Lucia$37.2 million
St Kitts Nevis$1.75 billion
Turkey$2.7 billion
Malta€1.2 billion
Cyprus€9.6 billion’
Vanuatu$230 million
Montenegro€1.75 million
Moldova€0.5 million

*Latest approximate unofficial estimates of CBI revenues generated from passport sales until 2019

These surplus CBI revenues were used by Governments to reduce debt, disaster recovery funds, hospitals, schools, public infrastructure, housing and pensions for the local population.

History of Economic Citizenship Programs

The Economic Citizenship by Investment programs have been around for more than 40 years, they rose to popularity in the 1980’s when a number of small caribbean and pacific countries selling passports for $50,000. Most of these schemes were dismantled after 2001 due to security concerns at that time. It was not until a decade by 2010, the St Kitts and Dominica programs quickly rose to popularity. At that time the prices were still high, St Kitts was selling a passport for $250,000 and Dominica passport was only $75,000 (before securing schengen visa waiver) .

Not long ago Comoros passport program was popular remained the cheapest citizenship by investment for $50,000. The program was closed couple of year ago.

Ireland did sell passports for 1 million euros in the 1990’s but the scheme was closed after backlash. Ireland joined European Union in 1999.

Cyprus was the first EU country to install the citizenship for investment scheme in 2007. Later joined by Bulgaria in 2010 and then Malta in 2014.

Do you know?
The Two European states Moldova and Montenegro launched citizenship for sale schemes in 2018. Note that these countries are not part of European Union only part of Europe

How much it costs to buy a passport?

Please see below the latest prices of the citizenship and passport by investment (CPBI) schemes. Prices start from $100,000

Note:*: Applicants must pay additional fee such as agent fee, due diligence fee, application fee.
Montenegro requires Investment ($300K) + Donation ($110K). Vanuatu has no real estate option. Moldova is suspended until Q3 2020

Why second passports are hugely popular?

A passport, is must in the wealth management portfolio for High-net-worth individuals. It is also considered as an insurance policy of the twenty first century for asset protection. These shiny new gold standard investment passports have become an ultimate luxury item – a future investment for family generation.

Recent KnightFrank wealth survey reveals two out of three HNW individuals have already invested in a second passport, while the rest are considering one.

Citizenship by investment schemes provide an an excellent opportunity for wealthy families to become dual citizens by investment. One important benefit for dual citizens, is they are allowed to carry two or more passports.

For many a passport gives new identity and new life making you truly a World Citizen. A World without borders opens up for you!

Do you Know?

A World citizen is a person who places global citizenship above any nationalistic or local identities and relationships.

Albert Einstein described himself as a world citizen and supported the idea throughout his life, famously saying “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind”

What are the Second passport benefits?

  • You can call a country second home, visit anytime you want
  • Greater travel freedom and mobility
  • Get out of your country, when there is Global crisis
  • Access to best healthcare and education systems for your children outside your country.
  • Access to international financial freedom (open bank accounts)
  • Retirement and to receive pensions
  • Todays citizenship investment will be passed to future family generations.
  • Live, work, study and do business anywhere you want.
  • Greatly Reduce your taxes with clever tax planning.
  • Expand your business opportunities attending events, conferences, trade shows across the globe.

Half of the US population are worried about about being a victim of terrorism. The threat is REAL. The State Department warns As terrorist attacks, political violence (including demonstrations), criminal activities and other security incidents often take place without any warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad. What can you do about it?

A Legally acquired second passport can be used as “camouflage” passport giving you full citizen privacy. For example, You can hide your US citizen status showing a second passport instead of US passport.

US taxes are a nightmare. No other country in the world is so hungry for Taxes. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside

FATCA Act is another nightmare for American expats and accidental americans designed to identify and collect the appropriate tax from US Persons holding financial assets outside the United States.

IRS has been powered to cancel passports of Americans who hold delinquent debt above $50,000.

For these reasons, thousands of Americans renounce their citizenship and go in search for new life that comes with real freedom

Which countries offer Citizenship by Investment?

As far as we know and the information we have compiled, there are 18 citizenship by investment programs in total, spread across Asia, Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific.

PriceStatusInvestmentTime (months)
1Austria€10mdefunctStates Interest12
2Cyprus€2mActiveReal Estate7
3Bulgaria€1mActiveGovt Bonds18
5Turkey€250,000ActiveReal Estate3
6Antigua and Barbuda$100,000ActiveDonation3
7St Kitts and Nevis$150,000ActiveDonation3
8Vanuatu$130,000ActiveDonation2
9Grenada$150,000ActiveDonation3
10Saint Lucia$100,000ActiveDonation3
11Dominica$100,000ActiveDonation3
12Cambodia$250,000UnknownDonation12
13Samoa$1.2mActiveBusiness20
14Egypt$250,000ActiveReal estate3
15Jordan$1.5mActiveCapital12
16Moldova€100,000SuspendedDonation3
17Montenegro€350,000ActiveReal Estate3
18Comoros$50,000ClosedDonation2

You have to decide for yourself whether you want a passport or just residency.

What investment options available for citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment regulations provide 5 types of investment options to acquire immediate citizenship.

  1. Lump sum Donation to State (one time)
  2. Real Estate Investment (no less than $200K)
  3. Government bonds / Treasury securities
  4. Business Investment
  5. Bank cash deposit

The first and most popular option for most citizenship investors is Lump sum donation . We have seen over 80% of the clients, go through this route because it easy, simple, cheap and fast.

The second most popular option with clients is real estate investment. This option attracts more wealthy and HNW investors who want to profit from real estate investment yields. You must hold on to the property for 3-5 years before selling it off in the market. After you sell the property you can still keep citizenship and passport.

The third option is financing the government bonds. At the moment 7 CBI programs offer buying Government bonds or securities in exchange for passport. Cyprus has scrapped this option since 2019. For example you could finance Bulgaria €1m worth of Govt bonds only for a total €250,000 spread over 5 years (you only pay 5% interest). It would cost even less for Turkey and St Lucia.

Bank deposit is also an very interesting option if you want to risks with your liquid cash. At the moment only Turkey and two other countries have this option. The problem with this approach is the amount is too high and some nationals may also face problems opening bank accounts.

The final option available is Business investment. This is a great option if you have business background, already successful investor and you can create jobs. Antigua and Saint Lucia are the only two caribbean countries that award citizenship by investment to business investors making atleast $1.5m or $5m jointly. Under the joint investment plan, each investor making $400K qualifies for passport. For Turkey all you have to do is create 100 jobs to become a citizen.

We compiled a nice comparison of investment options available for citizenship by investment program, so that you would know where and how much to invest.


DonationReal EstateGov BondsBank depositBusiness
Antigua$100K$200Kxx$1.5m
Dominica$100K$200Kxxx
Grenada$150K$200Kxxx
St Kitts$150K$200Kxxx
St Lucia$100K$300K$500Kx$1.5M
Vanuatu$130Kxxxx
Malta€650Kx€150Kxx
Cyprusx€2Mxx€2M
Bulgariax€500K€1Mx€1M
Montenegrox€250Kxx€5M
Moldova€100K€250K€250Kxx
Jordanxx$1M$1M$750K
Egypt$250K$500K$750K$250K$400K
Turkeyx$250K$500K$500K$500K

Note: For Malta you must pay Donation + Bonds. For Montenegro there is €100,000 fee per application above real estate investment.

You can read our free real estate guide to citizenship by investment

Citizenship VS Residency

Be clear to under the difference between citizenship and residency (permanent)

BenefitsCitizenshipPermanent Residency
What you get?PassportVisa /Residence permit
TravelWorldwideRegional (schengen area)
PriceCheap (starts $100K)Expensive (starts $250K)
Personal VisitNOYES
CitizenshipIncludedNaturalization (slow)
Real Estate OwnershipNo restrictionsLimited
Rent a placeNOYes
Renewals5-10 years2-5 years
Must liveNONO (yes if you want citizenship)
Education, Healthcare, EmploymentEqual rightsEqual rights
Family membersImmediateImmediate
Banking AccessYesYes
Taxes*NO (unless you live)Yes
Rights*Full Citizen RightsRestricted (eg. No right to vote)
DeportationNoYes
Embassy helpYesLimited

*Please seek professional advise.

Why Citizenship is so much better on the long run?

Citizenship is often so much better than residency for thousands for reasons.

  1. Cheaper than residence schemes
  2. Hassle free
  3. Application package completed within 3 months (all family and children get passports)
  4.  No visit to country required (saves you lot of money).
  5. Mitigate your taxes (prepare in advance)
  6. Collect your passport from agent or at consulate.
  7. Enjoy your full citizenship rights across the globe
  8. Citizenship once granted is also passed to future generations. (you did not waste your money, you only invested in your future family)

Why you should not confuse Citizenship with Golden visas?


Golden visa schemes only offer permanent residency (no instant citizenship) buying real estate. Greece and Portugal are the most popular ones.

Secondly Citizenship schemes are much cheaper (half the price) than golden visas.

Prices for Golden visas start with $300,000 (in dollars) for the most popular program Greece

Greece – €250,000
United States – $900,000
Portugal – €350,000
Malta – €250,000
Canada – $1.2 million
Spain – €500,000

Golden visa programs attract two types of clientele

  1. Those who are not interested in second citizenship or passport
  2. Nationals who come from a country where dual citizenship is restricted (eg. India, China etc)

If you dont want citizenship or passport, then you can go for golden visa residence schemes. Note that only passport is accepted travel document worldwide. The residence permits issued by schengen states is not a passport so can only be used within the schengen region.

We will not go into deep on golden visas in this article.

How to protect yourself from passport scams?

It is also very important you only apply for legally running and official programs and you do not fall into a passport scams. Follow these 3 cardinal rules.

Rule 1: Do not buy real estate or pay full Government contribution before receiving Letter of approval from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Government. This should take 2-3 months. Most agents will only ask you to pay initial retainer deposit which consists of agent fee and due diligence fee. If your application is refused you dont need to pay the contribution. Dont let yourself be conned!

Rule 2: You are only supposed to pay the donation or contribution ONLY directly to the Government bank account. Don’t pay to third parties.

Rule 3: Don’t invest in real estate developments that are not approved or authorized by Government. CIUs are required to publish list of approved property developments in their website. You wont qualify for citizenship/passport investing in unapproved developments. These are likely scams to lure investors. Governments running CBI programs, have moved establish escrow legislation to protect property investors.

A Word of Advice

Don’t fall for cheap passport scams, these might involve $10K-$15,000. You will be disappointed and lose what you bargained for! Look for the red flags! Seek a trusted legal advisor

For example. there are no south american countries that offer instant passports for investments. The only way to become a citizen is to become a resident and naturalize, atleast not before 3 years.

What to look for when buying a passport?

With so many CBI programs around, often it can be more confusing to clients to pick the right passport for the right price. It is important that you do not overspend and pay only what you need for.

We will give you 10 important tips.

1. Price factor

Price is the first most important factor for clients applying for investment citizenship schemes.

The most expensive passport may not be the best passport for you. You have to find the right balance between the price you pay and the passport benefits. Always pick the right one for you and family. Dont overpay for the passports.

We plotted a graph between the passport power and the prices. As you can see see in the graph, Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria are the most expensive passports. Look closely in the 140 mark there are cluster of programs around Grenada. These are the cheap and best passports that are in the market. You also have to keep in mind that the more family members you add, prices rise exponentially.

CBI price chart
Passport power VS Pricing – Comparison of Citizenship by Investment

2. Application process and time

A significant number of clients have asked us about which citizenship programs have simple application and fast processing times.

We have always told them the same answer. Allow 3-4 months and apply as early as possible.

We have seen applications approved in 80 days and Vanuatu has simple and super fast application processing times. We have seen letter of approvals issued by Citizenship commission, as early 4 weeks.

If you want the fastest program, our suggestion would be Vanuatu. All caribbean passport schemes takes atleast 3-4 months.

3. Passport power

The strength of a passport to visit many countries without visas, especially to most important six BIG countries in the world is equally important.

Visa FreeUnited StatesUnited KingdomRussiaChinaEU SchengenCanada
Maltaˣˣ
Cyprusˣˣˣ
Bulgariaˣˣˣ
Grenadaˣˣ
Antiguaˣˣˣ
Saint Kittsˣˣˣ
Saint Luciaˣ
ˣˣ
Dominicaˣˣˣ
Vanuatuˣˣˣ
Montenegroˣˣˣˣ
Moldovaˣˣˣˣ
Turkeyˣˣˣˣˣˣ

Please note Canada and United States impose Electronic travel authorization (ETA) on visa waiver countries.

Another important thing to remember for clients, they should pick the right passport, that has visa free access to the country they frequently visit. For example if you have business ties or family or children studying in United Kingdom, it would not make sense to apply for Montenegro or Moldova passport.

You should also be able to spot minor difference with visa free access using CBI passport. For example. Turkish passport is an excellent passport to visit Japan or South Korea

South AfricaIsraelJapanSingaporeSouth Korea
Antigua and Barbuda
Bulgaria
Dominica
Grenada
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Cyprus
Turkey
Malta
Moldovae
Montenegro
Vanuatu
Jordan
Egypt

e – eVisa
√ Visa not required
ₓ Visa required

Which CBI passports have access to overseas territories?

There are some 61 territories (dependent colonies) in the World. Some are British, French, Dutch and

For example you may want to travel to british colonies such as Bermuda , Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands (BVI), or US colonies such as US Virgin Islands (USVI). Sint Maarten is also worth mentioning a Dutch territory. These wealthiest islands are beautiful attract many wealthy millionaires often travel to these locations for holiday vacations.

We have compiled visa requirements for these territories for 14 CBI passports.

Disclaimer / Note : Visa requirements often change from time to time. Please always check with your nearest embassy before travels. The above information is for knowledge purpose only.

4. Passport Validity

Passport validity is a very important to consider when applying for citizenship by investment programs. Some countries issue passports for 5 years or 10 years.

Passports with ten year validity is more convenient to clients, as they dont have to go through hassle of renewing passports quickly.

Note that Antigua, St Lucia and Grenada have passport validity of 5 years. All other passports come with 10 year validity. Antigua is a special case, once you renew the passport first time, the passport validity extended to 10 years.

CBIValidity
Antigua5 years
St Kitts10 years
Dominica10 years
St Lucia5 years
Grenada5 years
Vanuatu10 years
Turkey10 years
Malta10 years
Cyprus10 years
Bulgaria10 years
Moldova10 years
Montenegro10 years

5. E-2 Visa to enter United States

Access to E-2 investor visa is a very important benefit that comes from Citizenship by investment (CBI) schemes to enter US.

E-2 visas are cheaper alternative to EB-5 in terms of processing speed and cheaper investment. Certain countries such as China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Russia do not have E-2 treaty direct with US, so citizens from these countries can take advantage of CBI schemes as backdoor entry to US. Remember E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas and even family members can apply.

Here are some of the important difference between E-2 and EB-5 visas.

E-2EB-5
Visa CategoryNon-immmigrantImmigrant Visa
Min. Investment$100,000 – $200,000$900,000 to $1.8 million
Visa validity2-5 yearsTemporary Green card (2 years)
Green cardNoYes
Job creation5 jobs10 jobs
Waiting time3 weeks2-15 years
CitizenshipNoYes
Residence conditionsNoneMust move and live in US.
Not absent for 6 months per year
Quotanone10,000 annual limit
WorkingFull timeDirector
Work permitSpouse onlySpouse and children < 21
Application paperworkEasyComplicated / Strict rules
Who can apply?E-2 treaty countriesNo restrictions
Taxes on Worldwide income*May beYes
Visa fee$205$3,675 (I-526 petition)
Legal costs$10,000 to $20,000$50,000 to $100,000

*Please seek professional tax advise before your immigrate to US.

There are only 7 CBI countries that have E-2 treaty investor signed with United States.  All other Citizenship by investment programs (CIP) do not offer this benefit

  • Montenegro
  • Turkey
  • Bulgaria
  • Grenada
  • Moldova
  • Egypt
  • Jordan

6. Right to Vote

The Citizenship by Investment Regulations of Antigua, St Kitts, Vanuatu do not permit right to vote to CBI citizens. All other countries offer voting rights and even holding government positions.

7. Citizenship transferable to Generations

These citizenship by investment programs allow transferring citizenship rights upto three family generations only.

  • Dominica
  • St Lucia
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Vanuatu

Except these four programs, all other CBI programs offer full lifetime citizenship.

8. No personal visit

Citizenship Programs that have no personal visit requirements for passports are much more attractive and desirable to clients.

Imagine you live in UAE, the Caribbean or Vanuatu is still far way and you dont want to spend thousands of dollars in flight bookings to take your family just for a passport. This is unrealistic, especially the world is reeling with the outbreak of coronavirus. It is really not a good time to travel during disease outbreaks.

Except 5 CBI programs, all other countries require a personal visit atleast once

CBIValidity
Antigua5 years
St Kitts10 years
Dominica10 years
St Lucia5 years
Grenada5 years
Vanuatu10 years
Turkey10 years
Malta10 years
Cyprus10 years
Bulgaria10 years
Moldova10 years
Montenegro10 years

9. No Residence conditions

Citizenship by investment programs that have zero or no residence conditions are more attractive to many clients.

All countries (except caribbean and vanuatu) issue residence permits before issuing naturalization certificate under CBI.

CBIResidence
Antigua5 days*
DominicaNone
GrenadaNone
Saint LuciaNone
St KittsNone
TurkeyOnce
VanuatuNone
MaltaOnce
CyprusOnce
MontenegroOnce
EgyptOnce
JordanOnce

*Antigua imposes 5 day residence requirement when you renew your passport after 5 years. If you dont visit Antigua, your passport will be canceled. For Turkey, formalities can be completed by issuing Power of Attorney

10. Healthcare / Education / Safety

European countries are superb when it comes to education and healthcare, especially Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. These countries also have low crime rate and high safety rankings. Moldova and Montenegro are okay catching up to european standards but they have a long way to go.

Caribbean countries still struggle with crime and do offer affordable healthcare. They also have some nice universities eg. St George Medical University in Grenada and the newly opened University of West Indies campus at Antigua.

You should only consider this if you want to move and live the country. If you just want a passport for mobility, probably you can ignore these.

11. Quotas

You must also seriously consider limited quotas with citizenship by investment schemes. This is because once the quota reaches the limit, the schemes wont reopen again and you missed the opportunity to acquire citizenship through investments.

These are limits currently imposed on certain CBI schemes. The Caribbean passport schemes do not have any limits

MaltaTotal quota 1800 (to be extended)
MontenegroTotal quota 2000 (expires in 2022)
Vanuatu600 per year
Turkeyno limits
Cyprus700 per year
Moldova5000 (total quota)
Jordan500 per year
CaribbeanNo limits

12. Tourist arrivals

Tourist arrivals is an important indicator on the attractiveness of country to apply for citizenship.

Tourism plays an important role in driving revenues, economic growth and prices in the real estate market. You may want to consider this data when investing in hotels and resorts.

Tourist arrivals in CBI countries
Tourist arrivals in countries running citizenship by investment programs for 2018 – Source: World Bank Data
CBITourist Arrivals (2018)
Bulgaria9,273,000
Cyprus3,939,000
Malta2,599,000
St. Kitts and Nevis125,000
Antigua and Barbuda269,000
St. Lucia395,000
Turkey45,768,000
Grenada185,000
Vanuatu116,000
Egypt11,196,000
Jordan4,150,000
Dominica63,000
Montenegro2,077,000

Source: World Bank Data 2018

How much it would cost to BUY a passport?

These are some of the rough estimates on how much it would cost to buy a passport under citizenship by investment programs.

Please expect accredited Agents charge you upto $20,000 (not added in the list below) per application. It depends on whether you are applying single or group as family.

Single personsMain + Spouse + 1 Child < 18Main + Spouse + 2 children < 18
Antigua$132,800$125,000$125,000
Dominica$109,950$200,000$200,000
Grenada$158,500$200,000$200,000
St Kitts and Nevis$157,750$195,000$195,000
Montenegro€365,000€385,000€395,000
Vanuatu$130,000$175,000$190,000
St Lucia$109,500$165,000 $190,000
Turkey$270,000$270,500$272,000
Malta$895,000€975,200€1.05m
Cyprus€2.16m€2.16m€2.16m
Bulgaria€300K€300K€300K

Note:

– Above prices are the cheapest options calculated. There can be no less than this.
– Turkey, Montenegro, Cyprus ONLY offer real estate option since there is no donation.
– Montenegro Government requires 100,000 fee per application.
– Real estate option not included in the above prices for Caribbean. This route costs more
– Bulgaria financing option for Government bonds.

How do family members influence passport prices?

Family members have a BIG impact on the prices of CBI schemes. The costs increase when more family members according to the framework of CIP legislation established by Governments.

How much it costs under donation?

We compare the six most popular low cost CBI schemes, assuming main investor, spouse and children under 18, apply for citizenship by investment schemes.

Family citizenship by investment
Take a look on the price variations for family citizenship by investment programs for Main applicant, Spouse and number of children below 18 years included in the application for donation route.
Family123456
Antigua137,800 $145,600 $145,900 $145,900 $188,500 $201,800 $
Dominica109,950 $200,000 $216,850 $200,000 $244,750 $271,200 $
Grenada158,500 $200,000 $218,000 $200,000 $247,000 $274,000 $
St Kitts157,750 $195,000 $207,250 $195,000 $217,750 $228,000 $
Vanuatu130,000 $175,000 $176,000 $190,000 $225,000 $242,000 $
St Lucia109,500 $165,000 $206,500 $190,000 $233,500 $259,500 $

How much it costs to buy a citizenship under real estate?

These are our rough price calculations to buy a passport depending on the number of family members.

Assuming 1 main application, 1 spouse, and number of children under 18 added below, here are the rough estimates of minimum real estate investment required. For example 1 main applicant, spouse and 3 children < 18, make the total family members five.

CBI Real Estate costs
Approximate calculations for buying real estate under citizenship by investment depending on family members
Real Estate12345
Antigua$237,800$245,600$245,900$246,800$247,000
Dominica$234,950$250,400$251,850$253,300$255,000
Grenada$278,500$286,500$288,000$290,000$292,000
St Kitts$242,800$267,100$277,400$287,800$289,000
St Lucia$349,500$365,500$366,500$366,500$366,500
Montenegro$406,000$417,000$428,900$430,000$432,000
Turkey$270,000$275,000$277,500$279,000$280,000

Please contact us for accurate price quotes. We work with trusted real estate partners with citizenship by investment and golden visa programs.

Read our Free Guide to Citizenship by Real Estate Investment

Why prices of CBI schemes dropped in 2017?

After the 2017 Hurricane season, in a desperate attempt to bring revenues, caribbean countries engaged a race to the bottom cutting prices for CBI schemes. As a result the price dropped by almost 50% making passports affordable to average and middle class population.

The 2017 has been the most important year for the CBI industry, because so many engaged price cuts. First the Caribbean countries then followed by Vanuatu and Turkey.

Turkey dramatically cut the prices for passport down to just $250,000 from $1 million. It is just a huge price cut for citizenship!

Looking on the flip side!
This only benefited the clients and helped to increase the popularity of the passport by investment schemes.

Prices of Citizenship by Investment Programs Before and After 2017

How important are visa waivers?

Visa waivers fuel demand for passports that come with visa free movement. It has become the most important marketing factor to attract clients applying for passports. Imagine with one powerful second passport, you could visit all the 196 countries in the world.

You will see below the soft visas (eVisa, ETA, VOA etc) and hard visas required to visit 196 countries in the world for CBI passports. Clearly Malta is powerful and Caribbean passports are not far behind.


Visa not requiredVisa requiredeVisaeTAVisa on arrivaleVisa / Visa on arrivalTotal Access
Malta118301331814166
Austria117301231321166
Cyprus117331511614163
Bulgaria110341511719162
Antigua9854111264140
Saint Kitts9953102274142
Grenada9259131264136
Saint Lucia9060122274135
Dominica8761141275134
Vanuatu8067130295127
Montenegro74681602314127
Samoa7869130296126
Moldova72761402013119
Turkey6579922216114
Cambodia17127190201167
Jordan16130181181164
Comoros1413810024957
Egypt16132160211063

Source: Best Passport Rankings Study 2020

On 28 May 2015 the EU signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with St Lucia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Republic of Vanuatu, the independent State of Samoa and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Canada revoked visa waiver agreements for all Caribbean countries selling passports by 2015 citing citizenship for sale pose a serious risk to Canada’s borders.

We noticed when Canada revoked visa waiver and imposed visa restriction on Antiguan citizen in 2017, the applications for CBI passport took a nose dive. This goes on to show how important are visa waivers for citizenship by investment programs.

But the Caribbean countries have managed to expand their visa waiver agreements to Russia and other countries in an effort to boost tourism and passport revenues.

Who are CBI citizens?

CBI citizens are a new class of diaspora population created by citizenship by investment programs.

Approximately less than 10,000 people become CBI citizens every year, and an estimated 50,000 CBI citizens living in diaspora. These are small communities of wealthy individuals live in United Arab Emirates, China, Europe, Americas and Africa.

Here are a brief numbers of CBI population that exist as of 2020

St Kitts and Nevis18,000
Grenada3,300
Antigua and Barbuda3,500
Dominica6,000
Malta1,200
Cyprus4,500
Vanuatu2,000
Turkey5,100
Montenegro5*

*Note: Approximate unofficial figures calculated based on passports/applications approved for investors. For Dominica PWC report

What you should know about EU citizenship?

The European Union (EU) citizenship, first of all does not exist as its own, it a supplemental citizenship conferred by member states of the EU. The Citizenship of the European Union shall not replace national citizenship and is automatically lost if revoked by the member state.

EU citizens can also be dual citizens. Most EU states do grant citizenship through ordinary naturalization meeting conditions such as long term residency, integration, passing civic and language tests.

Only three member states (Malta, Bulgaria, Cyprus) grant expedited citizenship based on investment. Of all Cyprus has the fastest citizenship time (6 months)

  • Bulgaria – €1m (Government bonds, financing possible)
  • Malta – €900,000 (€650K Donation + €150K Bonds + Processing fee)
  • Cyprus – €2m (real estate)

Bulgaria remains the cheapest option, while other programs are only suitable for High-net-worth investors costing excess of one million euros.

What rights do EU citizens enjoy?

  • Right to free movement, settlement and live anywhere across the EU.
  • Right to trade and transport goods, services and capital freely through EU borders ( no restrictions on capital movements)
  • Right to vote in and run as a candidate in local elections, european elections and european citizens initiative 
  • Right to consular protection by embassies of other EU member states when embassy is not present
  • Right to equal pay, discrimination at workplace,
  • Right to legal protection, data protection and privacy.
  • Full citizen rights including protection from deportation
  • Favourable tax regime (requires advance planning)

Non-EU Nationals

Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not part of European Union therefore these country nationals are not EU citizens. Although these countries are not members of the EU, their nationals can work in the EU on the same footing as EU nationals, since they belong to the European Economic Area.

EU/EFTA/Schengen
EU/EFTA/Schengen and candidate countries

Do You Know?
Swiss citizens are not EU citizens. Swiss nationals are free to live and work in the EU.

UK citizens cease to be EU citizens from 2021. The Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

Common Myths Debunked

We will debunk some of the common myths many think about citizenship by investment programs (CIP)

Myth 1: Citizenship by investment (CBI) schemes offer diplomatic passports.
Reality: CBI schemes issue ordinary passports have nothing to do with diplomatic passports. Diplomatic passports can only be issued to citizens according to Vienna convention. Diplomatic immunity is only available to certain classes of high level diplomats (not to all).

Myth 2: Only criminals or money launders acquire passports by investment
Reality: All applicants must pass due diligence checks before being given passports. High risk clients are rejected. It is a fact that 99% of the the people applying are genuine families, they ONLY benefited from these schemes, getting a new life and identity. Less than 1% of those unscrupulous persons known to abuse the citizenship schemes.

Myth 3: No background checks are done for passport investors.
This is completely false. Due diligence forms the heart of the industry protecting the integrity of citizenship by investment programs. Infact over 90% of work done on applicants involve these checks. Some do abuse the passport programs bringing negative reputation to the CBI industry. All immigrant investor programs (including US EB-5) have issues. No vetting system is 100% perfect, but it is a constant struggle to improvise the checks.

Can stateless people apply for citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment programs do not restrict stateless people from applying for passport programs. As far as we know, at the moment only 4 CBI programs accept stateless people

  1. Vanuatu
  2. Dominica
  3. Turkey
  4. Cyprus
  5. Antigua

There are 12 million stateless people around the world who do not have any form nationality. Stateless people are denied basic human rights such as right to education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement, due to lack of papers and identity.

Citizenship by investment schemes who can afford to make investment, provide stateless people new identity, healthcare and other righteous benefits.

Statelessness is caused by collapsing states, discrimination against particular ethnic/religious groups, gaps in nationality laws, stripping of citizenship or states that not let women pass on their nationality.

The UN Human Rights agency has pledged to end statelessness by 2024.

Best Citizenship by Investment Programs

We will give you a quick review analyzing 15 most popular citizenship by investment programs. We will also tell you the Pro’s and Con’s with each of the programs.

1. Grenada

Grenada citizenship by investment
Beautiful Caribbean sunset and beaches in Grenada
Donation
$150K
  • One time
Real Estate
$220K
  • Hotels / Resorts

Pros

  • Grenada established itself No.1 citizenship by investment in the world.
  • Only Caribbean country that has visa free access to all these countries China, Russia, United Kingdom, Schengen states
  • Grenadian citizens have access to E-2 investor visas to visit United States (cheapest alternative to EB-5). It is a non-immigrant visa.
  • No requirement to visit Grenada and Zero residence requirements.
  • Passports delivered through Authorized agents.
  • Permanent residence card at additional cost.

Cons

  • Costwise it may be slightly expensive, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality of passport.
  • Grenada may refuse applicants who are rejected already applying for CBI programs in other countries.

2. Vanuatu

Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment
Eton Beach on Efate Island, Vanuatu, near Port Vila – famous beach on the east coast
DSP Program
$130K
  • One time Donation
Contribution Program (VCP)
$130K
  • One time Donation

Pros:

– Fastest application approval times (3 weeks)
– Passport issued within 2 months (entire process completed)
– Easy and straight forward application process (no personal visit needed)
– Very good passport from a pacific country with visa free access to UK, Schengen, Russia etc.
– Non FATCA country, may interest american expats.
– Pure tax haven, no corporate taxes or income, wealth or inheritance taxes.
– Full privacy to citizenship investors (names not disclosed to public)

Cons:

– Slightly expensive compared to the caribbean passport programs
– Visa required to visit Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, South Africa etc.

Expert Guide to Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program

Citizenship Act and Legislation

Vanuatu Citizenship Act [Cap_112]

Citizenship regulations Order 91-95 of 2018

Citizenship Regulations (Order 32-33) of 2019

3. Dominica

Dominica Citizenship by Investment
Roseau, Capital of Commonwealth Dominica
Donation
$100K
  • Cheapest
Real Estate
$200K
  • Hotel / Resort

Pros

  • Cheapest citizenship by investment program for single persons
  • Processing time only 2-3 months
  • Visa free access with EU schengen area, United Kingdom, Russia etc
  • Beautiful lush green country with springs and forests.

Cons

  • Expensive program for families under donation route
  • Visa required to visit UAE, Japan, Canada, Nigeria, Lebanon, Mexico etc.
  • Names of CBI citizens are published in Government Gazette to public, twice a year, creating privacy issues.

4. Saint Lucia

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Lucia
Pitons are the landmark of St Lucia featured in numerous movies and films.
Donation
$100K
Real Estate
$300K

Pros

  • Beautiful country very popular for holiday destination in the Caribbean
  • Cheapest and low cost passport program for single persons
  • Citizenship program very popular with Americans
  • Applications are processed within 80 days if paperwork is intact.
  • No person visit required and zero residence requirements.

Cons

  • Price tag little expensive for families applying for passports
  • Real estate requirement is high compared to other caribbean passport programs (Canelles resort and Alpina Hotel by Desert Star Holdings are approved developments)
  • Names of CBI citizens available to public in St Lucia.
  • $500K Government bonds option is available as additional option but most applicants do not use this route due to non-availability of financing option.

5. Turkey

Turkey Citizenship for Investment
Turkey’s $2.3 trillion economy is the 19th biggest economy in the world, attracts all sorts of investment into the country.
Real Estate
$250K
Bank Deposit
$500K

Pros

  • Biggest and popular citizenship by investment program in Eurasia
  • Very popular among Arab investors
  • Best real estate investment for citizenship
  • Turkish Passport within 4-6 months
  • VAT for foreign property buyers exempted, makes the program all the way attractive.
  • Candidate country for EU already in the process of incorporating EU legislation into national law.
  • Easy application process and no restrictions on who can apply
  • Turkish nationals working legally in an EU country are also entitled same working conditions as the nationals of that country.

Cons

  • Passport is weak. No visa free access to EU schengen area, United Kingdom or Russia.
  • Visa free access to Turkish citizens available to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, Hong Kong.
  • Applicants must apply for residence card before becoming a citizen.
  • Property prices still high above EU countries in some areas.

6. St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis
Oldest and most trusted citizenship by investment program in the world
SGF Donation
$150K
  • One time payment
Real Estate
$200K
  • Hold for 7 years

Pros

  • Richest caribbean country renowned for tourism, beauty and holidays
  • Trusted citizenship by investment program since 35 years
  • Very Strong and powerful passport in the Caribbean.
  • Special visa free regime with Israel, South Korea, Ukraine, Turkey and Taiwan, Russia
  • No residence or physical visit required.
  • No oaths required
  • Simple and efficient application process.
  • Cheaper for very big families over 5 or 6 dependants
  • Low real estate investment (reduced to $200,000)
  • Fast track passport processing (AAP) available for additional payment. Decisions on citizenship taken within 45 days.
  • Pure tax haven with no personal income taxes.

Cons

  • Slightly expensive program
  • Real estate must be held for 7 years before selling.
  • No E-2 visa treaty with United States
  • Visa required to visit Canada, South Africa, UAE and Thailand

Legal text for St Kitts Citizenship by Investment Legislation

7. Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua made important changes to citizenship by investment program from April 1, 2020. As a result donation option slightly expensive by $5000 and real estate becomes cheaper by $20,000. Some country restrictions (Iraq) has been lifted and can now apply for passports.

Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship
English Harbour in the South of Antigua
Donation
$100K
  • One time
Real Estate
$200K
  • Joint investment

Pros

  • Cheapest family citizenship by investment program with big price difference, remains attractive for families acquiring second passports
  • Beautiful and fastest growing caribbean country, famous holiday destination in the Caribbean.
  • Powerful passport in the Caribbean with visa free access to Schengen, UK, Russia and over 150+ destinations.
  • Special visa waivers exist with South Africa, Qatar, Serbia
  • Citizenship is private and not reported to public.
  • Most transparent citizenship by investment program in the Caribbean
  • Popular with families from China, Bangladesh, Libya and Russia.
  • Pure tax haven, no personal income taxes

Cons

  • Antigua imposes 5 day residence condition when you renew the expired passport. This is a problem for many clients.
  • Passport validity is low issued only for 5 years
  • No right to vote or hold government offices.
  • Visa required to enter Canada, UAE, Japan, Israel, Mexico etc.
  • Name change is not allowed after acquiring citizenship.

8. Cyprus

Cyprus
Cyprus is a EU member state since May 2004 and uses Euro. Cyprus to join schengen area and likely to get US waiver in the future
Real Estate
2m
Investment
2m

Pros

  • Best citizen by investment program in the European Union
  • Fastest passport in 6 months.
  • Must buy a home for €500,000
  • Limited quota of 700 applicants annually
  • Full EU citizen rights including right to vote in European Parliament elections
  • Strong EU passport with visa free access to Canada, United Kingdom and full rights to live, work, study in 28 Member states.

Cons

  • Very expensive, only suitable to UHNW millionaires.
  • No Government bonds investment option.
  • VAT 19% is very high, you would essentiate waste money buying real estate for €2m. You have to structure investment properly to pay less VAT.
  • Investors have to pay additional €150,000 donation to research and housing development.

9. Montenegro

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment
Montenegro uses Euro, a candidate country to join EU and Schengen area by 2025
Real Estate
250K
  • Application fee $100K
Five Star Hotels
5m
  • Resort Development

Pros

  • Picturesque country visited by over 2 million tourist arrivals.
  • Montenegro opened brand new economic citizenship program in 2018.
  • Rock bottom lowest property prices in Europe.
  • Passport and permanent residence issued within 3 months.
  • E-1 and E-2 treaty with United States
  • Visa free agreements with Schengen, Russia, Turkey, Israel, South Korea etc.

Cons

  • Limited quota of only 2000 investors get citizenship until Dec 2021.
  • Weak passport with no visa waiver agreement with United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland
  • No option to invest in residential properties, currently only hotel investments allowed.
  • Application fee very high exceeding €100,000 along with other fees.

10. Malta

Malta IIP
Malta launched Individual investor program in 2014
1.Donation Fund
650K
2. Bonds/Stocks
150K

Malta offers excellent opportunity to become EU citizen by investment through IIP program. You have to make donation + stocks/bonds (1+2) both under the IIP regulations.

Malta citizenship doesnt come cheap. For example for a small family of 3 with main applicant, spouse and 1 child under 18, the costs would come down to €975,000 without agent fee. The more family members you add, it would exceed €1m plus other fees.

Pros

  • Ideal Citizenship by Investment program for HNW families
  • You will become a full EU citizen under Maltese investor program.
  • Malta citizenship program popular with Russia, Middle East investors.
  • Powerful european passport with visa free access to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Africa etc..
  • Excellent education system and world class healthcare standards.

Cons

  • Very expensive program not suitable for small and middle class families.
  • Not a 100% real estate investment program.
  • Refusal rates are very high (25-30%) complying to very strict vetting standards.
  • No privacy for citizenship buyers, as names are published in Gazette available for public.
  • Residence requirement imposed for 12 months. (e-residence card must becoming a citizen)
  • Takes atleast 14-16 months to get Maltese passport (very slow)
  • Property prices extremely high in Malta makes the scheme unpopular for property buyers
  • Malta has no visa waivers signed with Russia, China.

11. Bulgaria

Bulgaria investor citizenship program
Bulgaria is a member country of the EU since January 1, 2007 comprising of 1.4% of EU population. Bulgaria to join schengen area in the future.

Do you know about Bulgaria?
We have one special citizenship by investment program to tell you about. Thats Bulgaria. It low profile investment citizenship scheme is not widely promoted and least known to many investors.

Fast track citizenship
275K
  • Financing Govt Bonds
Fast Track citizenship
1m
  • Business Capital

Bulgaria, probably the cheapest citizenship by investment program in Europe, you can possibly think of

The trick here is financing Government bonds.

At 5% interest rate you only have to pay around €275,000 (includes €250K financing cost for 5 years and other €250,00 legal charges to finance €1m Government stocks/bonds.

It is still cheap considering you get EU passport and it is 4x times cheaper than Malta

Pros

  • Bulgaria offers excellent opportunity to become EU citizen by investment
  • Fast track investor citizenship scheme still running and not abolished yet.
  • Cheapest EU citizenship by investment program
  • Bulgaria has powerful EU passport with visa free travel to Canada, United Kingdom and other countries.
  • Immediate permanent residence card
  • Excellent healthcare and education benefits
  • Corporate tax haven in Europe with low taxes and cost of living.
  • One personal visit required. No requirement to permanently stay in the country.
  • Citizenship privacy CBI citizens as it is not reported to public.
  • No requirement to open bank account.
  • No country restrictions on who can apply

Cons

  • Hold permanent residence for one year before applying for citizenship
  • Bulgaria not yet in schengen area likely to join in the future.
  • Passport takes 18 months to receive.
  • Citizenship is revoked is investments not maintained for 5 years.
  • If citizenship is refused by president, cannot be appealed.

12. Moldova

Moldova Citizenship by Investment
Above Chisinau at sunset. Chisinau is the capital city of Republic of Moldova
Donation
100K
Real Estate / Bonds
250K

Moldova opened first citizenship by investment scheme (MCBI) in Oct 2018, to drive economic investments into the country. The Government expected to raise €1.3 billion euros from the citizenship by investment scheme by handing out fast track citizenship to approximately 5000 economic investors from abroad.

The scheme remains suspended currently until Sep 2020 and the fate of the scheme after that is unknown.

Moldova received 36 applications and so far only 5 investors received citizenship before the scheme was placed on moratorium.

Moldovan passport has visa waiver arrangement with the EU schengen area, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Ukraine etc.. Moldova still has NO visa free access to United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.

13. Austria

Austria is one of the best countries in the world ranks highly for peace, freedom and highest living standards.

Austria citizenship
16th-century Alpine houses and alleyways in Halstatt, Austria

Austria does not have any official citizenship by investment program.

Article 10(6) of the Citizenship Act does specify economic investment as the criteria for discretionary naturalization in the interest of the state waiving all residence and language conditions. Few investors received Austrian citizenships for investments before 2012, after this this program disappeared into unknown.

Austria does grant exceptional citizenship for extraordinary contributions in the interest of state in the fields of arts, music, research, science, sports and medicine.

Currently the only for investors to acquire Austrian citizenship is through the residence program. Foreign Investors can apply for self employment permit with Red-white-Red card which offers temporary residence. After 10 years of living, you will get to become Austrian citizen. One problem with Austria is dual citizenship is not permitted, so you have to probably renounce previous nationality.

No doubt Austria has world class and strongest passports in the World.

14. Comoros

Comoros Citizenship
Great Mosque in Moroni, Comoros

Comoros launched Citizenship by Investment Program in 2008 based based on Article 19 of the 2001 Constitution of the Union of the Comoros making it the first citizenship by investment scheme launched in Africa. Further amendments to the citizenship by investment scheme were made in 2013.

Comoros ran the passport for sale program from 2009 to 2016 requiring foreign investors to pay just $40,000 donation per application plus additional fees

The Government officially announced from 2009 to 2016, a total of 52,000 passports were sold as part of the economic citizenship program. Most of these Comorion passports were issued to large number of stateless people in UAE and other countries.

Since May 2016 the citizenship by investment program in Comoros remains closed, after alleged abuse of the scheme.

15. Egypt

Egypt Citizenship by Investment
Egypt history dates back to thousands of years back from Pharoah’s boasts of $1.3 trillion economy
Donation
$250K
  • Treasury Donation
Real Estate
$500K
  • Fast track citizenship

In June 2019, the Egyptian parliament approved Citizenship for Investment Law aimed at attracting foreign investors to reside in Egypt. The New Law granted the Prime Minister has the power to grant Egyptian citizenship to any foreign national who buys a state-owned property or a private property to establish an investment project.

Subsequent amendments to the citizenship law reduced the investment and time for citizenship. There is a $10,000 filing fee per online application submitted to the Special citizenship by investment unit setup by the Government.

Pros

  • Brand new African citizenship by investment scheme
  • Egypt is a $1.3 trillion market connecting Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Americas.
  • Fast track Citizenship decision made within 90 days for investment
  • E-2 investor visa treaty with United States
  • Bank deposit option also available ($750K)
  • Egypt permits dual citizen status

Cons

  • Weak passport in terms of visa free travel to less than 50 countries.
  • Investment ceiling is too high for real estate and donation.
  • Scheme is not popular yet.

16. Samoa

Samoa Citizenship Investment
Samoa lies about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, has $1.2 billion GDP with 200,000 population.
Business
$1.4m
  • SAT 4 million
Real Estate
$1.4m
  • SAT 4 million

Samoa (Western Samoa) opened a citizenship by investment scheme in 2017, under the Citizenship Investment Act and Regulations of 2016. Under the scheme foreign investors must invest $2.4 million to become a citizen.

This program did not become popular and remains unknown to many, due to several issues with the program. However the scheme is still open for investors who want to invest in energy, real estate, IT, agricultural and fisheries manufactories and communication tech fields. All applicants are subjected to due diligence.

The program is administered by Ministry of Commerce. The citizenship investment program received 5 applications from agents and investors according to the 2018 annual report.

Pros

  • Exclusive and unique citizenship by investment program.
  • Powerful second passport with visa free access.
  • Samoan passport visa free access to 130+ countries including Canada, Russia, United Kingdom and Schengen states.
  • Financially secretive tax haven
  • Entire investment can be withdrawn leaving only 15% after PR.

Cons

  • Very high investment threshold
  • 15 day residence requirement
  • Investors must prove networth of atleast $1m
  • Passport takes a very long time more than 2 years, only issued after you become permanent resident.
  • Passport valid only for 5 years with extensions.
  • 70% of the investment must be paid upfront along with the application.

17. Jordan

Jordan citizenship by investment
Jordan is a $100 billion economy with 98% Arab population out of 10 million residents crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. 
Business
750K
  • 3 years
Permanent Residency
280K
  • Real estate

Jordan approved the regulations for citizenship by investment in 2018 and the next year the program was relaunched in 2019 with reduced investment requirements. It is the first citizenship by investment program launched in Middle east remains attractive for some investors.

Pros

  • Citizenship attractive to Arab investors
  • Jordan is at strategic geographic location for trade and business
  • Bank deposit option available for $1m
  • Passport issued for 10 years
  • Visa free access to 50 countries including Malaysia, South Africa, Egypt Lebanon
  • 30 day application process
  • Dual citizenship not restricted

Cons

  • High investment thresholds compared to other programs in the market
  • Weak passport. No visa free access to Schengen/UK
  • Citizenship cannot be passed through mothers (only father)
  • Limited Quota of 500 investors per year

What You should Know about Due Diligence?

Due diligence is the heart beat of the investment immigration industry collecting $15 billion in investments through CBI and Golden visa schemes.

Governments have maintained highest standards of due diligence keeping out high risk applicants to protect the integrity of the migration schemes.

Agents first do preliminary due diligence and background checks before passing the files to Governments. Governments and CIUs do various profiling checks for sanctions, source of funds and other risk tools to identify risk. Third party due diligence reports from Thomson Reuters, Exiger, Refinitiv, S-RM are sought by Governments before a decision is made on approvals. Sometimes this takes atleast 2-3 months. Over 90% of the work involved for passport applicants lies in screening for risk. High risk applicants including Politically exposed persons (PEPs) are subjected to Enhanced due diligence (EDD)

We have compiled list of financial due diligence firms offering background checks for the citizenship by investment industry. Agents, Governments, Risk and compliance analysts and Banks can hire services from the following trusted due diligence firms.

  1. Exiger 
  2. Thomson Reuters 
  3. Sterling Diligence 
  4. BDO, USA 
  5. S-RM Intelligence and Risk Consulting 
  6. Kroll 
  7. Wealth-X 
  8. Refinitiv
  9. Corporate Resolutions Inc

Citizenship Applications are refused in the following cases

  • Failing background checks
  • Previous Criminal record
  • Visa rejections from visa waiver countries.
  • Individuals or entities subjected to sanctions.
  • Wanted persons by Interpol or other law enforcement agencies.
  • Failing to explain sources of income.
  • Applicants from a country subjected to sanctions (eg. Iran, North Korea, Sudan)

Applicants for Caribbean passport programs undergo common vetting by the Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC) along with Enhanced due diligence (EDD) checks. JRCC the sub agency for Caricom IMPACS (Implementation agency for crime and security).

The JRCC assists regional law enforcement personnel in the detection of persons who are traveling with stolen, lost and fraudulent travel documents, along with the identification of and monitoring the movements of persons of interest, including those who may be a high security threat to the safety and security of the Region.

The Legislation of Citizenship by Investment Act empower authorities to revoke citizenship of applicants, any time after granting citizenship, if found to be

  • Imprisoned abroad for 12 months or more
  • Bringing disrepute to the country engaging in illegal activities
  • Wanted person or subject of interest to international law enforcement

Cyprus, Malta, Saint Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis, Malta, Bulgaria have a history of revoked passports and stripped citizenship on applicants who acquired citizenship through investments.

Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria do not accept applicants subjected to OFAC (US), EU or UK sanctions.

MaltaSt LuciaSt KittsGrenadaDominica*Antigua*CyprusVanuatu
Afghanistan Chad Eritrea
Iran Kyrgyzstan Libya Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, North Korea,  Somalia,  Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen
Iran, North KoreaCuba,
Iran,
North Korea, Burma/Myanmar Sudan.
Case-by-caseIran North Korea SudanAfghanistan Iran
Iraq North Korea Somalia Yemen Sudan
EU sanctions, OFAC, UN sanctions, PEPsAfghanistan, Iran North Korea, Somalia Yemen

Note: Nationals of countries such as Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia are restricted for some Caribbean citizenship by investment schemes* unless they live outside these countries for over 10 years and have no financial connections to these countries. In some cases, applications from high risk countries are considered on case-by-case basis.

All countries that run economic citizenship programs have extradition treaties with commonwealth nations (eg. Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India) and also with other countries such as China, Russia making it easy to extradite criminals and wanted persons who abuse passport schemes.

What about Taxes with Citizenship by investment?

Taxes are an important subject with citizenship by investment . In most countries, taxation is based on residence (183 days a year) and not based on citizenship. Tax laws in most countries are extremely complex and varies for dual citizens.

Vanuatu, St Kitts and Antigua are only three countries that have NO personal income taxes on both local and foreign income. If you pursue a  passport that comes with no personal income tax, these countries are the most desirable ones. All other CBI countries in the Caribbean will exempt you from personal income taxes ONLY if you are a non-resident citizen.

Here is a quick summary of how taxes apply in CBI jurisdictions

CBICorporate TaxPersonal Income TaxWealth TaxCapital GainsInheritance or Estate TaxTax Treaties
Antigua25%0%000Caricom, UK
St Kitts33%000% (< 1yr)0CARICOM, Monaco, Switzerland, UK
Dominica25%Residents only000Caricom
St Lucia30%Residents only (upto 30%)000Caricom, Switzerland
Grenada28%Resident/Non-residents income within Grenada (15%)000Caricom,UK
Vanuatu0%Upto 17%00019 countries
Turkey22%15-35%yes22.00%1-30%94 countries
Malta35%Upto 35%012%076 countries
Cyprus12.5%Upto 35%020.00%065 countries
Bulgaria10%10-18% + SS000.4-0.8%86 countries
Moldova12%12% + SS0.80%10.00%050 countries
Montenegro9%9-12%09.00%5.00%42 countries
Egypt22.5%Upto 22.5%002.50%50 countries
Jordan20%Upto 14%00 (except company share sale or depreciable assets)032 countries

Source: Deloitte and other sources

In 2018, OECD listed 16 countries including Caribbean and European CBI/RBI schemes as non compliant jurisdictions for CRS tax sharing. If you already a CBI citizen, banks might ask you to disclose tax number from your home country.

  • Did you obtain residence rights under an CBI/RBI scheme?
  • Do you hold residence rights in any other jurisdiction(s)?
  • Have you spent more than 90 days in any other jurisdiction(s) during the previous year?
  • In which jurisdiction(s) have you filed personal income tax returns during the previous year?
CBIOECD blacklist
Antiguaͯ
Bulgariaͯ
Cyprus
Dominica
Grenada
Malta
Montenegroͯ
Moldovaͯ
Turkeyͯ
St Kitts
St Lucia
Vanuatu
Jordanͯ
Egyptͯ
Samoaͯ

Malta Government announced they will spontaneously exchange information about individuals that have obtained residence/citizenship through such schemes

Do you know?
Three countries were NOT listed in the OECD list as of today. These are Turkey, Moldova and Montenegro. This might change in the future.

Why invest in Real estate for citizenship?

Investing in real estate for passport has distinct advantages.

  1. You get permanent residence card + citizenship + passport.
  2. You get permanent home address, proving strong ties to the country.
  3. Sell the property shares later in 3-5 years, you would still be citizen.
  4. You can also invest in hotels or resorts for equity shares.

Prices for real estate to acquire passport starts from $200,000 in the Caribbean much higher in Europe.

Remember ONLY investing in Government approved developments will qualify you for citizenship.

Property prices in CBI jurisdiction
Average property prices in USD per sq.m in countries that run citizenship by investment programs – Source: Global property guide

Remember Caribbean citizenship by investment programs levy additional Government fee (upto $50K) if you want citizenship and passport for buying real estate. This does not apply for Turkey or Cyprus.

The Cheapest real estate citizenship by investment programs for small families, according to our calculations (see above) are

  1. Dominica
  2. St Kitts and Nevis
  3. Turkey
  4. Grenada
  5. Antigua

Lets say you you buy a equity share in a five star resort under construction in Dominica for $200,000 and you pay $50,000 government fee and $20,000 agent fee for your passport. All in all you pay $270,000 but after 3 years you decide to sell your share for $210,000 with a profit of $10,000. This means you only have paid $60,000 for your passport. Thats a great deal, but only if you make profit with real estate. But remember you will be at a loss when the property prices fall. Like any other investment decision, real estate market also carries risk. But it is your choice to decide!

These are some of the best five star real estate projects we recommend for buyers. Some of these projects are under development

  1. Six Senses LaSagesse Hotel / Kawana Bay, Grenada
  2. Canelles Resort / Alpina Hotel, St Lucia
  3. Kolasin Hotel / Durmitor Hotel, Montenegro
  4. Non Such bay, Antigua
  5. Park Hyatt / Marriott, St Kitts and Nevis
  6. Jungle Bay Villas / Secret Bay, Dominica

Why is Dual Citizenship important?

Dual citizenship is a subjective and debatable topic. Many highly developed asian and middle-east countries still restrict dual citizenship, while americas and europe are open to the subject of dual nationality.

These are some examples with

  • Restrictions: India, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Austria etc..
  • Requires permission: Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka
  • Partial Restrictions: Pakistan, Latvia (only with treaty countries)
Dual Citizenship Map World
Map of Dual Citizenship accepted worldwide as of 2020

Why is this important?

The reason why dual citizenship has become so important is, dual citizens are permitted to carry two or more passports while traveling. In addition, dual citizens get plethora of benefits such as pension, education, healthcare

If you are national of country where dual citizenship is prohibited, you have to watch out you dont automatically lose previous citizenship, when taking up second citizenship. You must seek legal advice!

There are laws to denaturalize or strip citizenship if you are involved in terrorism or illegal activities. Several caribbean countries already revoked citizenship of CBI citizens before. This is important because, if you already renounced your previous citizenship and the second country revokes your citizenship for any reason, you would become stateless.

Consular protection during emergency may be limited for dual citizens in some cases. For example if you are Chinese-Canadian dual citizen, you have limited consular protection at canadian embassy in china for some emergency.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

If you ask if it is possible to pay citizenship by investment using bitcoin, the answer is NO and YES.

No Governments officially accept Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies for citizenship by investment programs. However some agents do accept Bitcoin for agent fees and some handful of property developers in Europe and Caribbean take bitcoin.

Most agents will ask you to convert the coins to fiat currency (EUR, USD) to pay for passports.

The Biggest problem with accepting crypto-currencies is identifying the source of funds and beneficial owner which is critical for Due diligence and KYC. There is a risk that this money could be laundered or finance terrorism or procured through illegal activities (hacking, malware etc)

Privacy coins because of their anonymous nature, makes it difficult to identify the wallet owners.

Another issue is Crypto cleansing, when dirty money is converted to cryptocurrency coins and then used to buy several altcoins through several crypto exchanges.

Despite many crypto friendly countries like Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Malta, Portugal have enacted blockchain and virtual currency regulations to encourage fintech startups, it gets difficult to open a bank account as virtual coins present a high-risk to banks.

Prominent early bitcoin investors Roger Ver and Calvin Ayre have connections to citizenship by investment.

Roger Ver renounced his United States citizenship in 2014 after he became a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis through the citizenship by investment scheme. He is the creator of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), CEO of Bitcoin.com and one of the five founders of the Bitcoin Foundation. He invested over a million dollars into new bitcoin related startups including Ripple, Blockchain.info, Bitpay and Kraken.

Calvin Ayre supporter of BitcoinSV and CEO of CoinGeek.com was appointed as an Economic Envoy for Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 to advise on developments in cryptocurrency. Ayre, revealed plans in 2018 to build a $100 million five-star resort on Antigua’s Valley Church beach mostly from bitcoin trading profits as early investor. Ayre actively promotes Citizenship by investment program for crypto investors.

How to use your dual passports for travel?

So now you have become a proud dual citizen carrying more than one passport. Now what!

The key is using the right passport!

Millions of dual citizen travel each day, using their passports for travel. It is perfectly legal. In fact you can expand your visa freedom, making use of two passports. For example one passport has visa free travel to Canada and the other passport could have visa waiver to China. This way you can travel between these two countries maximizing your passport power

Follow these cardinal rules when you use more than one passport for travel.

  1. You must enter and exit the country using the same passport
  2. If you enter a country where you are citizen, use that passport to enter and exit. For example if you are US citizen, you must use US passport to enter and exit United States.
  3. Do not disclose your second passport, where dual citizenship is prohibited. Instead show your residence card, or travel through a neutral visa free country.

This is where dual citizenship comes into play. Dual citizens carry more than one passport for exit and reentry.

We will explain two situations

Dual citizenship accepted: If your country allows dual citizenship, things get much easier, you can fly directly from country A to country B using the destination country B passport.

Dual Citizenship not permitted: Things get complicated if your country do not allow dual citizenship and you are prohibited carrying two passports. You should not disclose two passports in that case as it makes it illegal.

Use of dual passport works best, in two ways

  1. Show your origin country passport with destination country’s residence card, visa to exit from Country A flying directly to Country B (or)
  2. Travel through a neutral third country (C), eg Dubai, Istanbul, Hong Kong etc. to reach Country B from Country A

Remember airlines will only ask you to show your passport for destination country. It is their job to check whether you meet the entry requirements. You must book the ticket same passport number. The airline and immigration are two different.

Here is a very good example using dual passport to travel.

Lets say you are US/UK dual citizen, your destination is United States. Fllowing the above cardinal rules we mentioned above.

  1. You present the US passport to airline during checking
  2. You show British passport to exit United Kingdom
  3. Show US passport to US border officers (CBP) to entry
Dual passports to travel
How to use your two passports to cross borders! Showing the right passport to airline and passport control is the key!

Benefits of Commonwealth citizenship

Eight citizenship by investment (CBI) programs offer commonwealth citizenship as a supplemental citizenship. CBI citizens of these states are also Commonwealth citizens.

EuropeCaribbeanPacific
Malta, CyprusAntigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint LuciaVanuatu

Please note: Turkey, Montenegro, Moldova do not have commonwealth membership. Egypt and Jordan may join in the future

One important benefit Commonwealth citizens get is they may receive consular assistance from British embassies and consulates in foreign non-Commonwealth nations where their home countries have not established diplomatic or consular posts. 

Many Commonwealth countries do not treat citizens from other member states as foreign nationals. The rights that Commonwealth citizens are entitled to differ depending on country. They are eligible to apply for British emergency passports, if their travel documents have been lost or stolen and permission has been given by their national governments. In some member states, they may also be issued non-passport travel documents when they are unable to present their national passports

When residing in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth citizens are generally exempt from registering with local police,may be employed in non-reserved Civil Service posts, and are eligible to enlist in the British Armed Forces.

Commonwealth Citizen
The Commonwealth of Nations has 53 members,of which 31 are small states covering roughly 1.5 million citizens. Nearly all of them are former British colonies or dependencies of those colonies.

Most commonwealth states (except a few) have visa free access to United Kingdom for business, tourism or visiting family.

Commonwealth citizenship status is automatically lost if the citizenship is lost from the member state.

Embassies and Consulates

CBI citizens can seek consulate or embassy help through diplomatic missions abroad. These missions will provide you services such as

  • Passport renewals or loss of passport
  • Urgent services such as emergency certificate for travel
  • Investment and trade
  • Notarization and Power of Attorney
  • Citizenship by investment services

We have compiled list of embassies and consulates of countries of all the countries running citizenship by investment programs.

What you should know about Agents?

Governments that run citizenship by investment schemes issue licenses to two types of agents

  1. International Marketing Agents
  2. Authorized agents

Marketing agents are responsible for marketing or promotion of the passport schemes following the Government rules. They should also have an agreement with authorized agents.

Authorized agents are responsible for filing applications on behalf of client with Citizenship by Investment Units (CIUs). Authorized agents must be resident and citizen of the country. It is also possible sub-agents work with authorized agents on commission basis.

How many licensed agents are there in the citizenship by investment industry?

At the time of this writing we estimate, more than 1000 agents serving the citizenship investment industry. No official data available for Turkey, Bulgaria and few other countries.

CBIAgents
Malta130
Cyprus611
Montenegro3
Antigua33
Dominica50
St Kitts63
St Lucia16
Grenada20
Vanuatu32
Moldova9
TurkeyNA
BulgariaNA
Samoa2

Source: Figures from Citizenship by Investment Units (CIU)

Please note Bulgaria, Turkey, Samoa have not published official list of authorised agents for citizenship by investment

Governments pay $10,000-$15,000 commissions for each case approval for Caribbean programs, depending on volume of cases are filed and how big is the family. Agents also charge professional fee ranking $15,000 to $20,000 depending on single person or the size of the family.

As with Malta, Cyprus the agent fee floats around €50,000 to €60,000 euros.

How to prepare the documents?

Documentation part is very important and time consuming and you should be prepared very well before applying for CBI programs, and your agent will help you to arrange these documents from their side.

All in all we ask you to prepare well one month in advance because any missing documentation will lead to approval delays from Citizenship Investment Units (CIU)

Documents that are issued by within EU states are automatically recognized within European Union and no special certifications needed, makes it easy and simple. For example if a document issued in Germany, it is automatically accepted by Malta or Cyprus.

For other countries you should think about APOSTILLE seal or Super-legalisation. The common problem is one document issued in one country may not be accepted by other.

To solve this problem, documents that carry apostille seal issued by parties to Hague convention, automatically accepted by other member parties. Currently there are 118 countries that are parties to Hague agreement. For example, these countries issue apostilled documents between each other.

  • India
  • China
  • United States
  • Vanuatu / St Kitts / St Lucia / Grenada / Dominica
  • Russia
  • Turkey

An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, a judgment, an extract of a register or a notarial attestation).

Apostille replaces slow process of legislation which requires chain of individual authentications of a public document. This process involves officials of the country where the document was issued as well as the foreign Embassy or Consulate of the country where the document is to be used.

These are the important documents needed for CBI programs in advance.

  • Passport, visa copies with travel history*
  • Identity cards, driving license
  • Birth certificates *
  • Marriage/Divorce certificate*
  • Education certificates*
  • Police certificate* (must be less than 3 months valid)
  • Health certificate* (must be less than 3 months valid)
  • Bank references and statements for one year.
  • Source of Income, background and business experience

*Apostille may be required. You can find here where to get apostille in your country.

You have to prepare these documents in advance and digital copies are accepted by agents.

Citizenship by Investment Units (CIU)

The Governments, in accordance to the citizenship by investment regulations have established CIU’s as a separate agency to oversee smooth operations and and functioning of CBI programs.

The role of CIUs’ include

  1. Application acceptance approvals
  2. Policy changes and regulations to strengthen the schemes
  3. Approval of real estate projects
  4. Handle due diligence operations of the subjects
  5. Agent and marketing agent approvals
  6. Rules for Marketing and promotion of schemes.
  7. Recommend approved investors for citizenship to the minister
  8. Notify Passport office to issue passport for approved investors.
  9. Organize events and conferences
  10. Provide training and consultation for agents
  11. Publishing reports and statistics pursuant to the CBI

Dominica CBIU

Dominica CBIU
Dominica Citizenship by Investment Unit – www.cbiu.gov.dm

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CBIU) of the Commonwealth of Dominica the Government authority within the Ministry of Finance that deals with all matters regarding citizenship by investment program.

.The CBI Unit will be dedicated to the effective management and processing of the applications that are received by the Government.

CIU St Kitts and Nevis

CIU St Kitts and Nevis
ciu.gov.kn

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of St Kitts and Nevis was established in 1984 is responsible for processing of all applications and overseeing all matters concerning Citizenship by Investment in the Federation

CIU Antigua and Barbuda

CIU Antigua
CIU Antigua – cip.gov.ag

The Antigua Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) was established by the Honourable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda pursuant to the 2G of the Citizenship Investment Act and is the sole Government authority responsible for processing all applications for Agent’s Licenses, and all applications for Citizenship by Investment by applicants and their family.

Grenada CBI Committee

Grenada CBIC
Grenada CBI Unit – cbi.gov.gd

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Committee (CBIC) is the Government body responsible for overseeing the processing of applications for citizenship by investment or by permanent residence. The CBIC assesses each application in accordance with the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Act, 2013. It then makes recommendations to the Minister, who has the final say on whether to approve, deny, or delay the granting of Grenadian citizenship.

The CBIC comprises of seven persons, all of whom answer to the Minister. One of these individuals leads the CBIC as committee chairman. This diverse group of professionals possesses a wealth of experience in areas such as law, finance, trade, and administration – allowing the CBIC to make informed decisions on citizenship matters.

CIP Saint Lucia

CIP Saint Lucia Board
Saint Lucia CIP Unit – cipsaintlucia.com

The Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment (CIP) Unit established in 2015 is an official body responsible for the management of the CBI program, licensing agents and publishing annual reports to the Government.

The CIP Unit is responsible for receiving and processing applications for citizenship by investment and the CIP Board is responsible for granting or denying applications for citizenship by investment. The CIP Unit does not issue passports as such, but notifies Immigration Department of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force for issue of passports to CBI citizens.

Citizenship by Investment Programs Association (CIPA)

CIPA
CIPA was formed in 2015 to forge closer cooperation with CIUs

The Citizenship by Investment Programmes Association (CIPA) was established by the five Caribbean nations in 2015  to forge closer cooperation and coordination among CIU’s.

The CIPA association is a regional body made up of the heads of the Caribbean’s five citizenship by investment units.

  • St. Kitts and Nevis,
  • Antigua and Barbuda,
  • Grenada,
  • St. Lucia and
  • Commonwealth of Dominica.

The Association has a mandate is to determine best practices in the area of citizenship by investment and to help implement them across all participating Caribbean jurisdictions.

CIPA aims to standardise due diligence processes, and to create a strong regulatory framework including sharing of information to ensure the industry’s integrity and competitiveness.

A new chairman is appointed for one year revolving term

Vanuatu Citizenship Office

Vanuatu Citizenship Office and Commission
Vanuatu Citizenship Office and Commission – vancitizenship.gov.vu

The Vanuatu Citizenship Office and Commission (COC) is a statutory entity established by the Vanuatu Citizenship Act [Cap 112] administers two citizenship by investment programs (DSP and VCP). The agency plays a vital role in

  • To enhance the efficiency of Citizenship Office in processing of applications
  • Strict compliance of due diligence checking with all applicants
  • Smooth line the procedures in issuing of citizenship certificates
  • Better coordination with other governmental departments
  • Protecting the integrity of Vanuatu Citizenship
  • Appointing agents

The Unit is empowered with legal powers to consider and approve or differ or reject applications for Vanuatu citizenship, and revoke a citizenship if it was not granted according to the provisions of the Citizenship Act [Cap 112]

Malta IIP Agency

IIP Agency
Malta IIP Agency – iip.gov.mt

The Individual Investor Program Agency (IIPA) was established in 2018 to administer the operations of Malta’s citizenship by investment programme. 

The Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) is responsible for the processing of applications, the carrying out of an in-depth due diligence process and putting forward recommendations to the Government regarding the granting of citizenship. The Agency also plays a key role in transparency, good governance and maintaining integrity of the scheme.

To enhance operational procedures, the Maltese Government in April 2018 made the amendments made to the Public Administration Act (Ch. 497), split the functions of Identity Malta into three separate agencies

  1. Identity Malta (immigration office)
  2. Malta Residence & Visa Agency (MRVA) oversees Malta Residency Visa (Golden visa) scheme
  3. Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA)

The IIP Regulator (ORiip) reviews all aspects of the IIP and annually reports on his functions to the Minister. Article 25A of the Maltese Citizenship Act requires the Office of the Regulator of the IIP (ORiiP) to investigate complaints about the IIP.

Cyprus

Cyprus Naturalization scheme by exception known as Investment scheme

Cyprus does not have dedicated citizenship by investment unit but applications submitted by authorized firms or agents are processed by the Ministry of Interior. Within the Ministry of Interior, the competent people are the Director of the Civil Registry and Migration Department (for residence permits) and the Director General of the Ministry of Interior.

The Cyprus Government Council of Ministers has established a Special Committee of Supervision and Control for the Cyprus Investment Programme in 2018, consists of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Interior and Invest Cyprus and was established on the basis of a Council of Ministers Decision.

The Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency founded in 2007 is the national investment promotion agency of Cyprus with the mandate to enhance the nation’s investment appeal abroad

The Ministry of Finance is also responsible for conducting a study and assessing the application of the Cyprus Investment Programme and its effects on the economy and providing information to the Council of Ministers, under the provisions of the Council of Minister’s Decision dated 21 May 2018.

The Registrar of a Cypriot court or a consular officer of the Republic of Cyprus is the competent authority for the Oath of Allegiance to the Cypriot Republic.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria Citizenship Unit

Bulgaria does not have a dedicated citizenship by investment unit, but decisions related to citizenship by investment is taken by Ministry of Justice, Invest Bulgaria Agency and specifically Migration directorate

The important decision-making authorities are:

  • The Migration Directorate (a structure within the Ministry of Interior) is responsible for processing the applications for permanent residence permits.
  • The Minister of Justice supported by Bulgarian Citizenship Commission and Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate is in charge of making a proposal to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to issue a decree on the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship. The Minister of Justice makes the proposal based on the opinion of the Council for Citizenship, which includes representatives from various government institutions.
  • The President of the Republic of Bulgaria issues a decree or refuses to issue a decree for acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship. If the President refuses to grant Bulgarian citizenship, the refusal is final and cannot be appealed.

Invest Bulgaria Agency issues certificates under Investments Promotion Act, This agency is an executive agency to the Bulgarian Minister of Economy. The Invest Bulgaria Agency supports the Bulgarian Minister of Economy in the application of the state policy in the field of encouragement of foreign investments.

The State Agency for National Security (SANS) provides its opinion on the applications on the basis the checks (security checks and checks on the origin of the funds) under both investors’ schemes.

The Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate checks whether the application for acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship and the documents attached thereto are in accordance with the applicable law. In case of irregularities, the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate and the Bulgarian Citizenship Commission have the authority to request that the facts and circumstances are clarified and the established irregularities are corrected.

Turkey

Turkey citizenship office
Turkey Citizenship Offices

Turkey does not have a dedicated citizenship by investment unit but several public offices work together to grant citizenship for investments.

  1. T​he Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Invest Turkey) has setup special joint citizenship by investment offices in Ankara and Istanbul to over smooth operations of the CBI program. ​Directly reporting to the President of Turkey, the Investment Office is in charge of encouraging investments that further enhance the economic development of Turkey. 
  2. General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadaster of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization issues the certificate of eligibility
  3. Provincial Directorate of Immigration Administration issues residence permit for investors
  4. Apply for Citizenship at the Provincial Directorate of Census and Citizenship Affairs and forwards to NVIGM
  5. General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs (NVIGM) checks applicants file for security checks and recommends to to the Minister of Interior
  6. The Minister sends approved applications to Office of the President of Turkey.

Montenegro

Montenegro CBI unit
Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Unit

The Government of Montenegro has appointed Secretariat for Development Projects (srp.gov.me) responsible for administering and overseeing special citizenship by investment program. This agency performs the functions of citizenship by investment unit (CIU) in Montenegro, responsible for selection of applications, issuing licenses agents and due diligence service providers.

The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism will be responsible for selection of approved real estate tourism projects for the purpose of citizenship investment program.

The Ministry of Economy will be responsible for selecting development projects in the field of manufacturing for the purpose of investor citizenship program.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development will be responsible for selection of agriculture and wood processing projects for the purpose of citizenship program

FAQ

Which is better? A passport or residency?

Passports literally has become much cheaper and faster than investor residence schemes. It saves you money and lot of hassles on the long run

Are Citizenship by investment programs still running due to Coronavirus situation?

All the Citizenship by investment (CBI) program running normally without any disruptions due to coronavirus (covid-19) situation. All applications filed by agents can be submitted online. Golden visa programs have been temporarily suspended due to closure of immigration offices.

Which is the best citizenship by investment program?

In our opinion, considering the costs, processing times and other passport benefits, these are the best programs we can suggest to clients

1. Grenada
2. Vanuatu
3. St Kitts and Nevis
4. Turkey
5. Cyprus

Which is the easiest and fastest citizenship by investment?

We have only one answer. That is Vanuatu. Period.

What do you think is the cheapest citizenship by investment program?

According to our calculations, pricewise, these are the cheapest passport programs depending on whether you apply as single person or family

  1. Dominica / St Lucia – one person only
  2. Antigua – Families
What do you suggest for the best real estate passport program?

We consider these real estate citizenship by investment programs as the best

  1. Grenada
  2. St Kitts and Nevis
  3. Turkey
  4. Cyprus
  5. Montenegro
Will Coronavirus have an impact on passport market?

The Corona virus situation is an unprecedented crisis in in travel and tourism indutry, likely to have a slight impact on the citizenship by investment (CBI) and Golden visa (GV) industry, causing a slow down in real estate investment from China market. The Governments in a bid to attract more investors may further simplify citizenship program, may be also cut prices. Nobody knows, what will happen, we have to wait and watch.

Will citizenship by investment expand to more countries in the future?

Yes, CBI industry is a promising industry and more countries are expected to join the wagon. These countries could likely open a citizenship by investment program in the future

  1. Solomon Islands
  2. Albania
  3. Croatia
  4. Greece
  5. Russia
  6. Serbia
Do citizenship by investment schemes have quota limits?

Yes, five citizenship by investment scheme have limited quotas for applications, explained below.

  • Malta – 1800 IIP applications  (extension likely in 2020)
  • Montenegro – 2000 applications (total)
  • Cyprus – 700 applications (per year)
  • Moldova – 5000 applications (total)
  • Bulgaria – no limits
  • Turkey – no limits
  • Vanuatu – 600 applications (yearly)
  • Dominica, Grenada, Antigua, St Kitts,  St Lucia – no limits
How can i apply for citizenship by investment?
  1. Pay initial retainer deposit.
  2. The Authorized agent will help you with all the KYC forms and documentation and will file the application to Government.
  3. Upon passing all due diligence and background checks, the Citizenship By Investment Unit (CIU) will issue approval letter within 90 days.
  4. Pay the full donation amount to Government bank account (if you are rejected, you dont need to pay)
  5. Take the Oath
  6. Collect your passport from your agent or at embassy
Can i appeal if citizenship by investment application is refused?

Yes, depending on the program, it is possible to appeal the CIU decision.

What citizenship by investment options i have for E-2 visa?

E-2 visa is a non-immigrant investment visa issued by United States. In recent years, E-2 visas became more popular than EB-5, because this visa is cheaper, faster and only low investment required ($100,000 minimum but atleast $200,000 recommended ). You must also create 5 jobs.

As of 2020, EB-5 requires $900,000 investment and creation of 10 jobs. Many consider EB5 way too expensive and significant waiting times (atleast years).

If you come from any of these non-E2 countries below, you cannot apply directly, instead you have to make use of CBI schemes. Once you become a CBI citizen, you can file for E-2 visa at any US consulate, where you are resident or citizen of. E-2 visas are issued for maximum of 2 years with extensions,

AfghanistanGreeceMozambique
AlgeriaGuatemalaMyanmar
AndorraGuineaNamibia
AngolaGuinea-BissauNauru
Antigua & BarbudaGuyanaNepal
BahamasHaitiNicaragua
BarbadosHong Kong SARNiger
BelarusHungaryNigeria
BelizeIcelandPalestine
BeninIndiaPalau
BhutanIndonesiaPapua New Guinea
BotswanaIran*Peru
BrazilIraqPortugal
BruneiIvory CoastQatar
Burkina FasoKazakhstanRussian Federation
BurundiKenyaRwanda
CambodiaKiribatiSt Kitts & Nevis
Cape VerdeNorth Korea*Saint Lucia
Central African RepKuwaitSaint Vincent & the Grenadines
ChadLaosSamoa
ChinaLebanonSan Marino
ComorosLesothoSao Tome & Principe
CroatiaLibyaSaudi Arabia
CubaLiechtensteinSeychelles
CyprusMadagascarSierra Leone
DjiboutiMalawiSolomon Islands
DominicaMalaysiaSomalia
Dominican RepublicMaldivesSouth Africa
El SalvadorMaliSouth Sudan
Equatorial GuineaMacau SARSudan
EritreaMaltaSuriname
EswatiniMarshall IslandsSyria*
FijiMauritaniaTajikistan
GabonMauritiusTanzania
GambiaMicronesiaTimor-Leste (East Timor)
GhanaMonacoTonga

* Cannot apply due to Trump travel ban on non immigrant visas

As far as we know, Grenada CBI offers the cheapest E-2 visa route. All other CBI options are quite expensive. Grenada passport will cost you about $170,000 plus on top of that if you pursue E-2 option, be prepared to invest atleast $200,000 in US businesses to have your strong chance for approval.

Remember only 7 citizenship by investment programs will offer you E-2 visa option.

  • Montenegro
  • Turkey
  • Bulgaria
  • Grenada
  • Moldova
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
What are the benefits of CARICOM passport?

The Caricom passport issued by 15 member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their citizens. All citizen enjoy free movement within the OECS area with just ID card or drivers license. All five CBI countries issue CARICOM passports.

Which are the future EU candidate countries?

There are five EU candidate countries. These are countries that are already in the process of incorporating EU legislation into national law.

  • Turkey
  • Montenegro
  • Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • Albania

Note: EU (European Union) is not the same as Europe. There are 27 countries in EU, whereas there are 44 countries in Europe

Which countries are not in Schengen area?

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro, Moldova are not in Schengen area. Bulgaria, Cyprus will join the Schengen area in the future.

Note: EU citizens (Bulgaria, Cyprus) have free movement in Schengen area.

What is the difference between nationality and citizenship?

A nationality is something you are born with (ethnic) cannot be taken away from you, while citizenship exists only in paper.

You would address nationality as American, Indian etc.., while you address your citizenship as US citizen, Chinese citizen. Its that simple.

There are 223 nationalities in the world, and since there 195 countries, there exists 195 citizenships. Some countries do not allow you to become a citizen, unless you are born with (eg. North Korea)

What is the basis citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment are expedited naturalization programs – a legal process acquire an additional or alternative citizenship by making an economic contribution to the state.  

How do small countries benefit from the proceeds of citizenship by investment?

The Surplus revenues generated from citizenship by investment programs are used by small countries in housing, social welfare, public works, pensions, building schools and hospitals, disaster slush fund and funding real estate developments (hotels/resorts) to meet tourism sector.

Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Cyprus over the years have significantly benefited from citizenship by investment.

Why do i need to establish genuine link after becoming citizen?

As a responsible CBI citizen, you are also required to strengthen the ties with the country that offered you citizenship, this way your citizenship is secure and hard to revoke.

You can create genuine link in the following ways: Paying taxes and social security, buying a real estate or permanent home, charity donations and helping non-profit efforts, frequent trips or long periods of living, learning local language, culture and integration to local population etc..

What is a Golden visa?

A golden visa is an instant permanent residency equivalent to green card issued to foreigners buying real estate or employment creation. Investors given permanent residence status have the right to live in the country indefinitely with equal rights in employment, healthcare and social benefits.

Portugal first coined the word ‘Golden visa’ when it launched ARI scheme in 2012.

What are the benefits of alternative citizenship?

An alternative citizenship is attractive for financial planning to HNW individuals and families. It offers more privacy and economic security across banking and investment portfolios.

Investors, expats and pensioners enjoy tax breaks and the possibility of improved personal and corporate tax exposure

Do citizens have compulsory military service?

CBI citizens are exempted from military service.

In general, Cyprus, Turkey require military service from its citizens. For Malta, Montenegro and Bulgaria it is voluntary. Please note if you serve in military, you will automatically lose your nationality in some countries.

Which citizenship by investment programs require taking Oath of allegiance?

St Kitts is the only country that does not require Oath of allegiance. All other citizenship programs require taking oaths (takes 30 months). In most cases there is a fee for oath sessions taken at consulate or embassy.

A new change, Vanuatu now permits taking oaths by video conferencing due to coronavirus outbreak

Do citizenship by investment programs permit name change?

Name change is permitted by three programs Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, if deed poll is submitted from country of birth along with citizenship application. A deed poll is a legal document that proves a change of name.

Vanuatu allows after receiving citizenship through affidavit. All other countries do not permit name change. Please note there is additional costs for this service.

When EU schengen states are imposing electronic travel authorization for passport holders?

Starting early 2021, to visit EU schengen states you will need to register ETIAS authorisation online. It is a very simple process and you dont need to worry about it much, pay a 7 euro fee and carry the print with your passport. It is required to all visa waiver countries EU has agreements currently. CBI citizens who hold passports from these countries will need this electronic travel authorization

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Dominica
  3. Grenada
  4. St Kitts and Nevis
  5. Saint Lucia
  6. Montenegro
  7. Moldova

EU passports and visa/residence permit holders from schengen states are exempted.

Do citizenship by investment units share applicant information?

Yes details on refused applicants are shared between countries, through official channels.

Abbreviations

Frequently used short terms in the guide.

  • CBI – Citizenship By Investment
  • CIP – Citizenship by Investment Program
  • RBI – Residence by Investment (RBI)
  • ECP – Economic Citizenship Program (ECP)
  • CBI/RBI – Citizenship by investment (CBI) and Residence by Investment (RBI)
  • CRBI – Citizenship and Residence by Investment
  • MCBI – Moldova Citizenship By Investment
  • DCBIP – Dominica Citizenship By Investment Program
  • IIP – Immigrant Investor Program
  • MIIP – Malta Individual Investor Program
  • CIP – Cyprus Investment Program
  • TCBI – Turkey Citizenship by Investment
  • CIU – Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU)
  • CBIU – Citizenship By Investment Unit
  • CBIC – Citizenship By Investment Committee (CBIC)

Disclaimer: Please note visa waivers and conditions change from time to time due to COVID-19 and other global issues. Please check the visa requirements from nearest embassy before your trip. The above information is for general knowledge only and may not be accurate.

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