8 Most Interesting Residency by Investment Programmes of 2021

Before we jump into the most interesting residency by investment (RBI) programmes of the year, it is essential to learn what RBI means and how it is different from citizenship by investment (CBI).

What is Residency by Investment?

Residency by investment programmes can offer the right to live and sometimes work in a country. After several years living in that particular country, it is often possible to apply for citizenship in an altogether separate process, often with added requirements, such as learning a language. Residence status can be more easily removed, often subject to the fulfilment of certain minimum physical presence requirements. The RBI programmes listed below are some of the most interesting and most in-demand offerings around the world. To learn more about the difference between CBI and RBI, check out our post here.

The difference between CBI and RBI

The key difference between the two is that citizenship by investment programmes offer investors citizenship, in most cases, without needing to go through a period of residence and only within a few months of applying if the requirements have been met, while residency by investment programmes only offer residence to investors, namely the right to live (and sometimes work) in a country. Learn more on the difference between CBI and RBI.

8 Best Residency by Investment Programmes of 2021

1. Greece

Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, making it perfect for global-minded businesspeople, history buffs, and travel enthusiasts. To grant foreigners access to the nation, the Government of Greece launched its RBI programme in 2014. Applicants who are successful receive the right to permanent residency. One of the most popular routes under the Programme is the purchase of residential, commercial, or agricultural real estate with a minimum value of 250,000 euros. Whilst the purchase of property can take several months to complete, once this is achieved the residence permit is issued quickly. It is worth noting that the Greek residence permit is subject to renewal every five years. Greece presents the most affordable real estate investment requirement of all the RBI programmes in Europe. If all the requirements are fulfilled, applicants may be eligible for citizenship after seven years of physical presence in Greece.

2. Ireland

The Irish Residency Programme is an ideal route for high-net-worth individuals and their immediate families seeking to acquire residency in Europe. The country, like the UK, uses English nationally, making a transition to live or work there easy for international individuals and families who are already fluent in English. Ireland’s RBI Programme started in 2012, and it offers residence rights to the applicant. There are four types of investments you can make as an applicant:

  1. One million euros invested in an Irish enterprise to be held for at least three years (and to be accompanied by a detailed business plan)
  2. One million euros in an approved investment fund to be held for three years and approved and regulated by the Central Bank
  3. Two million euros in an Irish Real Estate Investment Trust listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, to be held for three years

500,000 euros donated to a project that is of public benefit to Irish arts, sports, health, culture or education.

This process takes between three and four months, and the applicant must spend a minimum of one day per calendar year in the country to retain residence. Additional requirements for this programme include those investors wishing to pursue residence in Ireland must have a personal (independent) wealth of two million euros or more. Any investor who wants to obtain citizenship of Ireland must first obtain residency and then complete five years of physical presence in Ireland.

3. Italy

Italy is one of the largest economies in the world and provides strategic pathway to the larger European market. In recent years, Italy has taken action to become an even more attractive location for foreign investors. One of these steps was introducing an RBI programme in 2017. Through it, you receive the right to reside in Italy after fulfilling one of the following investment options:

  1. Invest two million euros in Italian government bonds
  2. Invest 500,000 euros in a limited company that is incorporated and operating in Italy
  3. Invest 250,000 euros in an Italian innovative start-up company
  4. Or invest one million euros in a philanthropic initiative

The application process involves several steps, beginning with an application for a ‘Nulla Osta,’ which means ‘no impediment’ in English and takes 30 days for the Italian Government to process. Within six months of receiving the Nulla Osta, the investor must apply for an Investor Visa at the local Italian Consulate or Embassy and enter Italy with the Investor Visa within two years of receiving it. Then, within eight days of entry, the investor must apply to the local police for the Investor Visa Residence Permit. The investor is eligible to apply for citizenship after ten years of residence.

4. Portugal

Portugal’s RBI Programme allows you to reside, work, and study in the country. The investment options vary from purchasing real estate to capital transfers to creating jobs in Portugal. It is one of the most popular residency by investment programmes in Europe, mainly because it leads to European citizenship after six years of residency, upon the fulfilment of certain requirements including a language requirement. Portugal is also a member of the UN, the EU, the Schengen Area and the Council of Europe (CoE), NATO, and the eurozone.

For the real estate investment option, applicants can purchase residential, commercial, or agricultural real estate for either 500,000 euros or 350,000 euros if the real estate is over thirty years old or located in an area of urban regeneration and designated for refurbishment.

Applicants can also choose between a series of capital transfers, with the most affordable being a capital transfer of 250,000 euros in artistic output or national heritage. But if this does not suit you, the final investment option is to create at least ten jobs in Portugal.

The process takes between three to six months, and there is a physical presence requirement of seven days in the first year and 14 days every two years following.

After five years of residence, you will be eligible for permanent residence.

5. Spain

Spain is a historically and visually rich country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. The African exclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Spain’s geographic location, popular coastlines, diverse landscapes, historical legacy, vibrant culture, and excellent infrastructure has made the country’s international tourist industry among the largest in the world.

Applying to Spain’s RBI Programme allows you to reside, study, and work in Spain. Applicants can choose between various investment options, with the most affordable being a 500,000 euro investment in real estate property to be held for the validity of the residence period. Processing time by the Spanish Government once the application for a residence visa and a residence authorisation has been submitted takes an aggregate time of around 30 days. There is a one-day physical presence requirement to retain the residence authorisation. If, however, the investor seeks to obtain permanent residence of Spain, that requirement is extended to five years (excluding absences of up to six months).

Other requirements include having evidence of being able to support oneself, and one’s family. This must be done by a minimum showing of 30,000 euros for the main applicant and 10,000 euros per family member for the entire residence period. To receive Spanish citizenship, applicants must have resided in Spain legally, continuously, and immediately prior to the application for a period of 10 years, subject to the fulfilment of other conditions.

6. Singapore

With a multicultural population and desire to respect cultural identities, Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. Multiracialism is enshrined in the constitution, and continues to shape national policies in education, housing, and politics 

Along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the Four Asian Tigers, but has surpassed its peers in terms of GDP per capita. The country attracts a large amount of foreign investment as a result of its location, skilled workforce, low tax rates, advanced infrastructure and zero-tolerance against corruption. Singapore hosts one of the oldest RBI programmes, which launched in 2004. Upon making the investment, and fulfilling all other application requirements, applicants are granted a Final Approval of their Permanent Residence status and must formalise their Permanent Residence status within 12 months. It is worth noting that some of the key application requirements are that an investor show a history of previous business experience and success. 

There are three investment options for this RBI programmeApplicants can invest: 

  1. A minimum of SGD 2.5 million in a new business entity or expansion of an existing business operation in a permitted industry. Once this option has been chosen, the applicant must submit a five-year business plan. 
  2. A minimum of SGD 2.5 million in a Government-approved GIP fund that supports Singapore-based companies 
  3. SGD 2.5 million in a new or existing Singaporebased, single family office having assets under management of at least SGD 200 million.  Once this option has been chosen, the applicant must submit a five-year business plan. 

    There is no language requirement for this RBI programme, but an interview is conducted. 

It is important to note that Singapore only allows citizens to hold one citizenship – so investors should think carefully prior to applying for citizenship of the nation. A person can become eligible for citizenship after two years of permanent residence if gainfully employed or married to a Singaporean citizen. 

7. Australia

Australia is a highly developed country, with the world’s twelfth-largest economy. Immigrants account for 30 percent of the country’s population, the highest proportion among major Western nations. Australia also ranks highly in quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, civil liberties, and political rights, with all its major cities faring exceptionally in global comparative liveability surveys.

Launched in 2012, the Business Innovation and Investment (provisional) visa (subclass 188), grants temporary residence rights in Australia. After successfully applying for this visa, applicants can apply for the business innovation and investment (permanent) visa (subclass 888) investor stream if they meet further conditions. This visa (subclass 888) grants the holder the right to continue investment activities in Australia permanently.

The additional requirements for Australia are a little more complicated than other RBI programmes because investors must be nominated by an Australian state or territory government agency before being invited to apply for this visa.

To be nominated for this visa, investors must show business ownership for two of four fiscal years immediately prior to the nomination. The business (or two businesses) must meet certain minimum turnover requirements – upon which also depends the percentage ownership of the business that the investor must show. Requirements may also vary depending on the industry in which the business operates (for example, professional, technical or trade services). The investor, the investor’s partner, or both, must also have lawfully acquired business and personal assets with a net value of at least 1.25 million AUD. These assets must be available for transfer to Australia within two years of the visa being granted.

The final requirement is that the investor must score above 65 on the Australian points test. It is also worth noting that the investors must have a track record of successful business experience as well as (generally) be aged under 55.

8. The UAE

The United Arab Emirates is an elective monarchy formed from a federation of seven emirates, consisting of Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. The country’s president (the emir of Abu Dhabi), who, in addition to his predecessor, is in charge of overseeing the development of the Emirates, owes much to oil revenue, which continues to be invested into healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The UAE’s economy is the most diversified in the Gulf region, while its most populous city, Dubai, is a global city and international hub, economically focused on tourism and business.

The small but mighty nation offers both a ten year and five-year investor visa to foreign investors, which grants the right to hold residency.

For the 10-year visa, investors have a number of options to choose from, each of which must amount to 10 million AED. These include placing the investment in an investment fund inside the United Arab Emirates, using it to set up a company in the UAE or investing it in an existing UAE company. Combination investments are also possible if less than sixty percent of the investment is in real estate. Further conditions apply, such as the fact that the investment must not be derived from loans.

For the five-year investment visa, you may invest in real estate property valued at a minimum of five million AED. Options also exist for business owners and exceptional students.

Both the ten year and five-year investor visas require a six-month minimum physical presence in the UAE each year, and, under both visa types, investments must be held for a minimum of three years. It’s worth noting that both the ten and five-year visas are unlikely to be steppingstones towards citizenship, as residence generally only leads to citizenship after thirty or more years in the country.

We’re here to help you

These were some of the most interesting residency by investment programmes of 2021. We hope you now better understand the logistics of the different programmes and their main requirements, and that this will serve as an initial overview to make a more informed decision on your investment migration journey.

To get advice on investor immigration options, feel free to contact us for a consultation. CS Global Partners has a team of experts with heaps of industry knowledge to help you decide what country and citizenship or residence programme may suit you best.

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