What is citizenship by investment?


Citizenship by investment programs (CBI) is a great way to invest in citizenship for yourself and your family. They’re especially attractive because they offer tax advantages and allow you to become a citizen of another country through investment.

But there are many different types of Citizenship by investment available, each with its benefits and drawbacks.

Citizenship by Investment programs allow people who invest in a country to become citizens of that country. These programs are usually offered by governments to attract foreign investment and are popular among wealthy individuals who wish to invest in real estate or other assets overseas.

But not only wealthy persons are willing to apply for such programs. Digital entrepreneurs, business owners, or frequent travellers are among the types of persons that also find such programs interesting and suitable for their needs.

Some countries offer citizenship to foreigners who invest in the local economy and real estate. Others provide citizenship to those who invest in the form of government bonds or money transfers.

Applicants must meet certain requirements to qualify for citizenship. Most programs require applicants to live in the host country for some years. They must also pass background checks and show proof of financial stability and investment sources.

In general terms, all programs require applicants to make a significant contribution to the economy of the host country. 

Benefits of a second citizenship

If you’re unsure to invest in a second citizenship, there are many benefits to consider that ultimately might get you applying.

  • It is faster than applying for citizenship through a normal route.
  • Citizenship by investment schemes offers investment diversification. It can serve as a plan B and diversify the types of investment you normally rely on.
  • It’s an excellent way to protect your wealth. When investing in a second country, you’ll receive back some of your money which will help you keep up with inflation. 
  • Enhanced global mobility for you and your family. That allows you to travel more freely without having to worry about some specific bureaucracy in some countries.
  • It gives you access to new markets and opportunities. You can use your second passport to open doors to new job opportunities and business ventures.
  • Also, with a  second passport, you get a backup plan and security of another citizenship.

So how do you decide what is the best type of program for you?

  • First, consider whether you’d prefer to live abroad permanently or temporarily. Permanent residency allows you to work and travel freely in the host country, while temporary residency gives you access to the same privileges, but only for a limited period.
  • Second, consider where you plan to apply for citizenship. Some countries require applicants to reside in the country for a certain amount of time before applying, while others accept applications from anyone who meets certain requirements.
  • Finally, consider the costs involved. The price of citizenship varies widely depending on the country and program. But some programs may be cheaper than others depending on your needs.7

Leading Citizenship by Investment Programs in Europe

Europe has been at the forefront of Citizenship and Residency by Investment programs for the past years.

The leading citizenship programs in Europe include those offered by countries within the European Union (EU), as well as in the United Kingdom (UK).

  • Austria Citizenship By Investment
  • Bulgaria Citizenship By Investment 
  • Investor Visa Belgium
  • Investor Visa Germany
  • Luxembourg Investor Visa
  • Malta Citizenship By Investment
  • Turkey Citizenship By Investment
  • UK Citizenship By Investment

Common Requirements

These programs are designed to encourage investment in specific sectors, such as real estate. Also, investment options normally include the options of donation or transfer of funds or government bonds.

The programs vary in scope and eligibility requirements, but most require investors to reside in the country where they invest.

  • Investors must be at least 18 years old with a clean criminal record.
  • Also, proof that your investment come from a legal source. 
  • Some programs allow investors to apply for permanent residence status after living in the country for 5 years. Others only allow applicants to stay temporarily.

To qualify for these programs, investors must meet income thresholds set by each program. In some cases, investors may receive tax benefits if their investments exceed certain limits.

Top Citizenship by Investment Programs in the Caribbean

The innovation about getting second citizenship originally come from some Caribbean islands, when in the 1980s, St. Kitts and Nevis first introduced citizenship by investment program.

Other islands in the region followed the same route to attract investment to their economies, including Belize, Grenada, and Dominica in the 1990s. 

Such types of programs saw a “pause” during the first decade of the millennium, and only recently started to appear with some other countries joining the list of programs with Antigua and Barbuda, Curaçao, and St Lucia.

  • Antigua Barbuda
  • Curaçao
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • St Kitts
  • St Lucia

Benefits of CBI Programs for the Host Country

These types of investment programs offer foreign investors a way to invest in real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets within a specific country. And they also bring some benefits to the host countries, namely:

Access to capital

Many CBIs offer access to private equity funds, which are pools of money used to finance small and medium-sized businesses. These funds are usually reserved for entrepreneurs who lack sufficient collateral to obtain bank financing.

Job creation

Investing in companies or real estate in the host country might have a significant impact on local jobs created. The number of jobs created depends on the type of investment made. For example, investing in a manufacturing plant typically creates more jobs than investing in a retail store.

Other Investment Programs that Can Get you Citizenship

Apart from the European and Caribbean countries mentioned above, other countries offer direct citizenship through investment programs, being the most popular Vanuatu, localized in Oceania.

And then you have another option, which is considered to be a non-direct one, through residence by investment programs.

Another route to citizenship: residence by investment programs

Putting it in simpler terms, these are programs where a foreigner obtains permanent residency by investing in a foreign land in return for an investment in the nation’s economy. He or she must first reside in the country before being eligible for permanent residence.

And after a certain amount of years, it is possible to apply for permanent residence. Once this is acquired, it is also possible to be a citizen of that country by naturalization.

Some of the most popular residence by investment programs, also known as Golden Visa programs, are:

  • Portugal Golden Visa: a five-year residency-by-investment program
  • Spain Golden Visa: no minimum period of residence is needed
  • Greece: a fast application Golden Visa program
  • Ireland: in Europe, it’s the only English-speaking country offering a Golden Visa program
  • United States Visa programs: EB5 and E2

FAQs About Citizenship By Investment Programs

What countries give citizenship by investment in 2022?

The following countries offer you direct citizenship by investment programs to apply within certain requirements. In Europe, Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Turkey, and the UK.

What is the fastest citizenship by investment programs?

Caribbean countries serve the fastest routes for getting citizenship. St. Kitts & Nevis has a fast track option of 2 months, followed by Dominica and Grenada with 3 months. Outside of the Caribbean, Malta has the fastest route with 9 months to get citizenship.

Where Can You Get the Cheapest Citizenship By Investment Program?

Again, Caribbean countries lead the way with minimum investment options of around $100,000 for St. Lucia, Dominica, and Antigua & Barbuda, and $150,000 for St. Kitts & Nevis and Grenada.


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