The majority of people electing to invest in Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes do so either to gain a second passport with greater visa-free travel opportunities or to secure a stable future for themselves and their families.
There are many benefits to having a second citizenship, including greater freedom of travel, new economic opportunity, improved quality of life and personal security. These programmes are also the quintessential “Plan B” option for investors who want to have a second residence to flee to in the event of instability in their home countries.
For a large percentage of investors, it is the first (and likely only) time you’ll be making an investment of this kind, so it’s imperative to know what you are looking for, and where to find it.
What is CBI?
Citizenship by Investment programmes offer the opportunity to legally acquire a new nationality in return for an investment in the economy of the host country. Such programmes provide citizenship status without causing any major disruptions to an investor’s life, provided they pass all the due diligence checks first, make a qualifying investment and provide all the correct documentation.
There is a myriad of factors to take into account when determining which Citizenship by Investment programme is right for you, and this can often be overwhelming. Here are the key points you should consider when comparing the various countries and their CBI programmes.
Citizenship Processing Timeline
Most CBI programmes are a direct route to citizenship that do not require you and your family to live in the host country for an extended period to qualify. Each programme has its own timeline dependent on numerous factors. Certain countries, for example, have mandatory physical presence requirements which do increase the processing timelines.
The Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis has the worlds’ longest-standing CBI programme in the world and has been setting the standard in the CBI industry for decades. While most CBI investment options for St Kitts and Nevis are linked to accelerated processing times, the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) in particular, is known for being the most affordable, direct, and secure route to second citizenship.
This SGF offers subsidised funding in areas such as infrastructure advancement, tourism promotion, social assistance and local entrepreneurship. The SGF route requires a one-off contribution in order to qualify for citizenship.
Further to this, the county is currently running a limited-time offer allowing investors to add up to three family members for the same investment amount as a single applicant. The cost for a single applicant or family of up to four persons requires an investment of USD 150,000, applicants will then pay USD 10,000 per every additional dependant thereafter.
Minimum Investment Amount
Minimum investment amounts vary quite extensively between the different CBI programmes. It’s important to consider what you are willing to spend, how you are willing to spend it and what your return on investment is going to be.
Often seen merely as a background check, efficient due diligence in the realm of CBI is paramount. This rigorous process of evaluating an applicant’s legitimacy to acquire citizenship from a country is the cornerstone of any CBI Programme.
It is this process that validates the integrity of the country’s particular Programme, and most significantly, the perception held of that country in the eyes of the international investor market. Not only is a country’s reputation imperative in influencing its diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, but it also directly impacts the strength of the country’s passport as well.
Mandatory Travel and Residence Requirements
Some countries enforce compulsory travel and residence requirements, which may include travel to attend an interview, swearing an oath of allegiance, or giving biometric information.
While some CBI Programmes are designed with the individual in mind, many have started to realise the importance of a family focus, especially this year. Unlike many other CBI programmes, Dominica is the ideal choice in this regard. One of the most attractive features of the programme, apart from its affordability, is its family friendliness.
Dominica has recently extended the scope of eligibility for dependents and post-citizenship additions. It scored top marks in the PWM’s CBI Index, a publication of The Financial Times, for ‘family inclusiveness’, with the government identifying that family reunification through CBI has become especially important in light of the ongoing uncertainty caused by the global pandemic. Encouragingly, Dominica has reduced the qualifying fund contribution for a family of four from US$200,000 to US$175,000, comprising the main applicant, their spouse and two dependants other than a sibling.
Freedom of Travel
A key advantage of CBI programmes is the ability to gain access to different countries without having to complete lengthy visa procedures. Depending on the passport you acquire, you will have the right to travel visa-free to numerous countries across the world, and a more powerful passport means you will not be required to fill out lengthy application forms or provide additional documentation. Furthermore, holders of second passports with visa-free access will not have to pay for visas or wait in queues at embassies or relevant bodies to process visa applications.
Which Programme is Best for Me?
The CBI programme you choose depends on your financial state of affairs, the country and passport you favour your financial goals and of course, family situation. It’s always recommended to before jumping straight in – there’s a lot to consider.