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The Ultimate Citizenship by Investment Guide

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 look at the best citizenship by investment programs available in 2021 and explain all the terms and requirements to start your journey with us today.

What is Citizenship?

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, the right to access 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.

Types of Citizenship

The concept of citizenship has been around for centuries, yet the term has evolved to redefine what it means to be a citizen of a country or even the world.

  • Jus sanguinis is a Latin phrase that translates to “right of blood”. This describes an individual’s right to citizenship of their parents’, and in some cases grandparents’ country of citizenship, even where the individual was born outside of that country. Rules surrounding jus sanguinis vary depending on the nation in question, particularly regarding whether an individual can receive citizenship of their mother’s state of origin.
  • Jus soli, another Latin term meaning “right of soil”, generally refers to the rule granting citizenship to an individual born in a country. However, this does not apply in every country, and specific regulations may restrict individuals in some nations under what is known as lex soli Some of these countries include Australia, Egypt, New Zealand, and South Africa.
  • Naturalisation is another common route to citizenship and usually applies to those who have entered the country through legal means, such as political asylum or lawfully living there for a mandated period. It is customary for those becoming new citizens to take a test that demonstrates an understanding of the nation’s laws, culture, tradition, and language.
  • Jus matrimonii means becoming a naturalised citizen of a country by marrying an individual with citizenship of that country. It has become common practice since it was introduced in the wake of the Second World War. Rules differ across the world regarding how long a couple will need to be married before citizenship will be granted, and other nations also extend this right to couples in civil partnerships.

What is Citizenship by Investment?

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 that of 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.

Why Invest in Dual Citizenship?

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.

Why Do Countries Have Citizenship by Investment Programmes?

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.

History of Citizenship by Investment

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 their 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 strong healthcare services and a high literacy rate.

Terms to Know

  • 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.

Which Countries Offer Citizenship by Investment Programmes?

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 they can apply for citizenship. Most citizenship by investment programmes offer a few investment options such as a contribution, real estate investment, or business investments.

What is the CBI Index?

Released yearly by Professional Wealth Management, the CBI index is a publication from the Financial Times and the only independent study that 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.

Download all  CBI Index reports

Best Countries for 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:

Dominica

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. Investors may qualify for citizenship through a donation to a Government fund or an investment in pre-approved real estate.

  • Processing time – 3 months
  • Minimum investment – $100,000
  • Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to approximately 143 countries and territories

Explore Dominica citizenship programme

St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment

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 to approximately 157 countries and territories

Explore St Kitts and Nevis citizenship programme

Grenada

Grenada citizenship by investment

Grenada has several reasons to be a favourite among high net worth individuals. 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 those with larger families. Through Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme, successful applicants can obtain citizenship of a nation that allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to approximately 144 countries and territories. 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 to approximately 144 countries and territories

Explore Grenada citizenship programme

St Lucia

Saint Lucia citizenship by investment

Launched in 2016, St Lucia has the youngest citizenship by investment programme in the Caribbean. Inspired by its Caribbean neighbours, St Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme 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, along with visa-free entry to approximately 146 countries.

  • Processing time – 90 days
  • Minimum investment – $100,000
  • Visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to approximately 146 countries and territories

Explore St Lucia citizenship programme

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda-citizenship-by-investment

With hundreds of beaches and year-round sunshine, Antigua and Barbuda is heaven on earth. You can make this popular holiday location the home of your dreams by applying to the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme. Established in 2013, 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 to approximately 151 countries and territories

Explore Antigua and Barbuda citizenship programme

How Much Does it Cost to Get Dual Citizenship?

The price for a 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.

What is the Cheapest Citizenship by Investment Option?

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.

Fastest Citizenship by Investment Programme

If applying through the Accelerated Application Process 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 approximately 130 countries and territories.

How to Apply for Citizenship by Investment

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, as well as 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 relevant 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.

Tips and Reminders for Citizenship by Investment

Difference Between Passport and Citizenship

The terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘passport’ are often incorrectly interchanged, so it’s crucial to establish the difference between them. 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.

Does a Passport Prove Citizenship?

A valid passport can provide evidence of citizenship and serves as a travel document if you need to cross borders.

Citizenship by Investment Requirements

Most citizenship by investment jurisdictions also require investors to:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have a clean criminal record and pose no reputational risk
  • Make a qualifying investment and pay fees
  • Provide proof of the legality of the source of funds

About CS Global Partners

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.

Why Clients Chose CS Global Partners

CS Global Partners proudly holds   government mandates to market their investor immigration programmes. We are known to 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 if you would like a detailed breakdown of programmes suitable for your family, kindly contact us, and we will be delighted to help you.

Start your Citizenship by Investment journey today with CS Global Partners.