If you’re looking to obtain global mobility, better healthcare, and a secure future for yourself and your family, our citizenship by investment guide offers everything you need to know. We examine the best citizenship by investment programmes available in 2021 and explain all the terms and requirements so you can start your second citizenship journey with ease.
Citizenship is the status of ‘belonging’ to a country, as recognised under the law of that country. In international law, it is membership to a sovereign state. In general, the fundamental rights commonly regarded as arising from citizenship are the right to a passport, access to social services including education and healthcare, the right to leave and return to the country of citizenship, and the right to live and work in that country. In return, you accept the responsibility of complying with the laws and rules of the respective state. Some countries permit their citizens to have multiple citizenships, while others insist on exclusive allegiance.
Some of the most common types of citizenships are jus sanguinis, a Latin term also known as “right of blood” or ancestral citizenship, jus soli, which means citizenship achieved based on where an individual is born, jus matrimonii, known as citizenship through marriage, and naturalisation, which refers to citizenship granted after an individual has spent sufficient time in a country. To learn more about these terms and which citizenship you may have, check out our post on Types of Citizenship.
Citizenship by investment (CBI) is another route to citizenship. It is a legal process to grant individuals —and, in some cases, their families—dual citizenship in exchange for a financial contribution to the host country’s economy.
The initiative permits countries to channel the generated funds into developing healthcare, education, infrastructure, and more. In exchange, investors are granted citizenship alongside their home nation, provided their country of origin allows dual citizenship.
Depending on the country, there are specific requirements for the investment you can make and different benefits associated with the citizenship you acquire. Get an in-depth look at citizenship by investment by checking out our “What is Citizenship by Investment” page.
Citizenship by investment has become an increasingly popular choice for those looking to increase their mobility and become global citizens. Holding multiple citizenships offers investors a Plan B in unstable and uncertain times. Individuals and their families who obtain second citizenship can also enjoy the same rights as local citizens, including access to healthcare, educational facilities, and business opportunities. Dual citizenship of a nation with an expansive visa-free and visa-on-arrival offering also brings greater global mobility, allowing investors to access hundreds of countries and territories worldwide.
There are countless other benefits to having a second citizenship, click here to learn more.
While citizenship by investment programmes offer a range of benefits to investors, the investment itself also serves as a crucial and much-needed financial contribution to the host country’s economy.
Funds from CBI programmes are often allocated to a country’s key priority areas, including housing, infrastructure development, sustainable growth initiatives, education, climate resilience, economic growth, enhancing medical facilities, tourism development, and heritage preservation.
In 1984, the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis was the first in the world to introduce the citizenship by investment programme. Its offering remains the longest-standing today.
In 1684, St Kitts and Nevis was the heart of the sugar trade industry under British occupation. After introducing beet sugar as an alternative in the 1900s and the country’s independence, the “Sugar Industry Diversification Fund” was launched under the country’s new Citizenship by Investment Programme.
The Programme allowed the Federation to develop its tourism industry, which soon became the backbone of the local economy. Although the Sustainable Growth Fund later replaced this option, St Kitts and Nevis remains an upper-middle-class country with robust healthcare services and a high literacy rate.
Citizenship by Investment Unit: Some countries that offer citizenship by investment programmes have government entities (commonly called ‘Units’) dedicated entirely to the economic citizenship process. They oversee and process all citizenship by investment applications.
Citizenship vs Residency: Although you may be both a citizen and a resident of the same country, the terms ‘citizen’ and ‘resident’ are two completely different things. Being a resident of a country that is not your country of citizenship allows you to travel and reside in the country, often for a limited amount of time, while retaining your home country’s citizenship and passport. On the other hand, citizenship confers a status for life to live and work in the nation.
Due Diligence: Due diligence is crucial to maintaining the reputation of the citizenship by investment industry. In the Caribbean, due diligence checks are done internally by Citizenship by Investment Units and in conjunction with external firms, regional and international law enforcement agencies, and partner governments. Assessment factors include police certificate requirements, fingerprinting or other biometric data collection, source of funds analysis, and some programmes implement bans on high-risk countries of origin.
Many countries around the world allow high-value investors to become citizens through citizenship by investment programmes. However, a handful of nations stand out as they have the most well-known citizenship by investment offerings. According to the CBI Index, these countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Vanuatu, Malta, and Turkey.
These countries have precise guidelines and investment requirements. In most cases, they do not require applicants to have resided in the country before and to know the language. A notable exception is Malta, where, under the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, applicants must reside in Malta for at least 12 months and pass an eligibility assessment before applying for citizenship. Most citizenship by investment programmes offer a few investment options such as a contribution, real estate investment, or business investments. To learn more about the CBI programmes in the Caribbean and around the world, click here.
Released yearly by Professional Wealth Management, the CBI index is a publication from the Financial Times. The independent study comprehensively evaluates and compares all active citizenship by investment programmes globally and ranks them against nine pillars deemed most important to individuals seeking dual citizenship through investment.
Created in 2017 by independent researcher James McKay, founder of McKay Research, the CBI Index aims to bring value to the investor immigration industry and provide a practical, decision-making guide to individuals and families considering citizenship by investment.
According to the CBI Index, Caribbean countries have been ranked best in the world year after year. These countries are known for their broad family eligibility, high due diligence standards, quick processing times, and affordable minimum investment thresholds. The top five include the following:
The Commonwealth of Dominica has been operating its Citizenship by Investment Programme since 1993, making it one of the oldest citizenship by investment programmes around. The island is famous for being home to over 365 rivers flowing through its unique rainforests and mountainous terrain.
Processing time: 3 months
Minimum investment: $100,000
Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel: approximately 143 countries and territories
As ‘Platinum Standard’ of citizenship by investment, St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme is one of the most trusted of its kind. Established in 1984, the Programme offers the industry’s only guaranteed fast-track route to citizenship, with the 45–60-day Accelerated Application Process available for an additional fee.
Processing time: 45-60 days or 90 days, depending on the route taken
Minimum investment: $150,000
Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel: approximately 157 countries and territories
Having restructured, redeveloped, and re-launched its Citizenship by Investment Programme in 2013, the Caribbean island has become a popular second citizenship option, particularly among larger families. Citizens of Grenada are also eligible to apply for an E-2 Visa to the United States.
Processing time: 90 days
Minimum investment: $150,000
Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel: approximately 144 countries and territories
Launched in 2016, St Lucia has the youngest citizenship by investment programme in the Caribbean but provides a wide range of benefits for investors and locals alike. An idyllic spot for nature seekers, history buffs, and sybarites, the citizenship of St Lucia offers all the tropical benefits of citizenship of a Caribbean nation.
Processing time: 90 days
Minimum investment: $100,000
Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel: approximately 146 countries and territories
With hundreds of beaches and year-round sunshine, Antigua and Barbuda is heaven on earth. The Programme grants citizenship in exchange for an investment in one of four investment options.
Processing time: approximately 6 – 7 months
Minimum investment: $130,000 (including Government Fees)
Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel: approximately 151 countries and territories
The price for second citizenship differs from country to country. However, the option to get dual citizenship in countries that offer citizenship by investment is aimed at high net-worth individuals. The lowest costs start at $100,000 for a single applicant in the Caribbean. To see which programme might be best for your family and budget, click here.
The Commonwealth of Dominica has a citizenship by investment programme that is one of the most cost-effective in the industry. With either a contribution of $100,000 or an investment of $200,000 in real estate, you can become a citizen of Dominica under the Programme if you meet the eligibility requirements. Click here to learn more about its investment options.
If applying through the Accelerated Application Programme for an additional fee, you can get your dual citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis in 60 days, provided you pass due diligence. Vanuatu, a chain of 80 islands in the south Pacific to Australia’s east, is also quick with its processing. The Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Programme takes approximately 60 – 90 days for approvals if successful and offers visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to around 130 countries and territories.
In the Caribbean, the first step in your citizenship by investment process is choosing an authorised agent. The Citizenship by Investment does not deal directly with the public regarding applications. However, it channels all applications through approved and partnered agents who handle the entire process for you, including advising on everything from filling in relevant paperwork, what copies you need of which documents, and any doctor’s appointments that need to be coordinated.
In this stage, agents also vet the applicants, and if cleared, their applications are forwarded to the country’s CBI Units for additional due diligence. All Caribbean Units use external due diligence firms and agencies like Interpol and the JRCC to review the applicant’s credentials against the respective organisation’s databases.
Once applicants pass the vetting process, they make the appropriate investment. After the funds have cleared, the government issues the individual with a certificate granting immediate citizenship to the investors. Barring a few minimal outstanding fees, your citizenship by investment process is complete. Now, new economic citizens can apply for their passports through the respective passport office.
For a more detailed outline of the citizenship by investment process, check out our post that takes you through each step here.
The terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘passport’ are often incorrectly interchanged, so it’s crucial to establish their differences. Legally, citizenship represents the relationship between a state and an individual, granting them human rights and responsibilities in that state. Meanwhile, a passport is a travel document that allows you to move between states.
Government-issued passports provide visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to specific countries, depending on the deals made between the respective governing bodies. Some passports grant visa-free travel between more countries than others. To find out more about passports and their power, click here.
A valid passport can provide citizenship evidence and serve as a travel document if you need to cross borders.
Most citizenship by investment jurisdictions also require investors to:
CS Global Partners is a legal advisory specialised in residency and citizenship by investment solutions. We offer premium expert advice to investors seeking dual citizenship or residency recommendations. To date, we have helped many clients from various parts of the world.
CS Global Partners proudly holds government mandates to market their investor immigration programmes. We operate in complete transparency and provide tailored solutions based on our client needs while always being fully compliant with government rules and regulations. Should you have any questions or want a detailed breakdown of programmes suitable for your family, kindly contact us, and we will be delighted to help you.
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