Need for Speed: The Fastest Routes to Second Citizenship

When it comes to choosing a destination for second citizenship, speed is often a primary concern. One of the fundamental merits of Citizenship by Investment is that it provides an expeditious route to citizenship, usually without the need to fulfil onerous residence requirements beforehand. For the time-poor investor, the shorter the turnaround time, the better.

How long it takes to receive citizenship, however, depends mainly upon the Citizenship by Investment programme chosen. Processing times vary significantly between programmes – with some processing applications in a much more efficient manner than others.

Which Programmes Offer the Fastest Turnaround Times?

The Caribbean is a region particularly famed for its speedy application processing. Provided an applicant successfully passes the due diligence process, the citizenship by investment programmes of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia frequently issue approvals in just three months from submission of an application. In the case of Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, such efficient processing is attributed to their many years of experience in the industry.

Uniquely, St Kitts and Nevis offers an Accelerated Application Process (AAP) to those in urgent need of second citizenship. Under the AAP, applicants may obtain citizenship in a guaranteed 60 days, at additional cost.

Outside of the Caribbean, Vanuatu offers a quick timeline to citizenship under its Development Support Programme. Montenegro is also among the fastest Citizenship by Investment jurisdictions, having issued the first approval under its newly formed Programme in just three months. As the industry’s newest player, however, processing times could increase as investor demand picks up.

Which Programmes Are the Slowest?

With the exception of Montenegro, Europe is otherwise home to the Citizenship by Investment programmes with the slowest processing times in the industry.

Under Bulgaria’s Immigrant Investor Programme, for example, application processing can take a number of years depending on the investment route chosen. Even under the Programme’s ‘fast track’ option citizenship may only be obtained after two years from the date of submission.

Similarly, if one were to pursue Citizenship by Investment in Austria – a country that has established one of the industry’s most ambiguous processing systems – a turnaround time of no less than two years is to be expected.

Elsewhere in Europe, under Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (IIP), obtaining citizenship is a 13-month endeavour. This is due to the fact that applicants to the IIP must complete a one-year residence period in Malta prior to the grant of citizenship, as well as take some time to undergo all related procedures such as the provision of biometrics.

Significantly faster than the likes of Bulgaria, Austria, and Malta, yet not quite as speedy as the Caribbean, Vanuatu, and Montenegro, is Cyprus. Under the Cyprus Investment Programme, successful applicants can expect to receive citizenship in approximately six months after making an application.

To the ever-busy investor, at least where processing speed is concerned, the Caribbean, and nations such as Vanuatu and Montenegro, offer the more appealing options. And, if speed is top-of-mind, only St Kitts and Nevis can offer a certain, 60-day turnaround.