Before we jump into the most interesting residency by investment (RBI) programmes in the year 2023, it is essential to learn what RBI means and how it is different from citizenship by investment (CBI).
Residency by investment programmes can offer the right to live and sometimes work in a country. After several years of living in a given country, it is often possible to apply for citizenship in an altogether separate process, often with added requirements, such as learning a language. Residency 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.
The key difference between the two is that citizenship by investment (CBI) 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. To learn more about differences between citizenship by investment and residency by investment programmes read our other article.
Considering popularity, cost, waiting time and benefits, we selected the best residency by investment programmes of 2023:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 or €350,000 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 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 residency.
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 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 for the main applicant and €10,000 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.
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 programme. Applicants can invest:
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.
Switzerland does not have a typical residence by investment programme. A non-EU/EFTA national who does not plan to undertake gainful activity in Switzerland can become a Swiss resident if a Swiss canton confirms a fiscal interest in that individual taking up residence.
Non-EU/EFTA nationals who are not gainfully employed in Switzerland can obtain a Swiss residence permit (B Permit) if they agree to pay a minimum net annual tax.
In general, a total tax liability of CHF 250,000 to CHF 1,000,000 is the minimum amount required by the cantons, although this amount varies according to individual circumstances and the canton of residence. The B permit is generally valid for one year and is renewable on an annual basis, provided the applicant continues to meet the requirements for which it was issued. Applicants who renew their B permit annually will become eligible to apply for permanent residence after 10 years.
These were some of the most interesting residency by investment programmes of 2023. 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.