Investor Programmes, Economic Citizenship and Golden Visa? What’s the difference?

If you are thinking about leaving the place where you live and moving to another country, you’ve likely started researching your options and came across terms like investor programme, economic citizenship or golden visa.  But which is the best for you?

What is an investor programme?
Investor programmes, also known as immigrant investor programmes, usually refers to the umbrella industry of investment immigration. These programmes allow individuals to be granted residence or citizenship of a country in return for making qualifying investments. Broadly speaking, investor programmes offer either citizenship by investment, sometimes referred to as “golden passport” – a misnomer, since receipt of citizenship is evidenced by a naturalisation or registration certificate and passports can only be received through a separate process – or residence by investment, commonly referred to as “golden visa”. Programme applicants must usually fulfil multiple qualification criteria like an investment threshold and due diligence. Investment can take a variety of forms, including a contribution to government funds, purchase of qualifying real estate (for example, specific government-approved projects), investment in a qualifying business in a specific industry, or creation of a set number of jobs. Currently, there is growing number of countries offering immigrant investor programmes, with approximately one-quarter of all countries as of 2015, according to a report by the IMF.


  • Investor immigration programmes
  • Golden visa
  • Golden passport
What is economic citizenship?
Economic citizenship is a branch of investor programmes that refers to the legal process where an individual or their family acquires citizenship (generally through schemes like citizenship by investment programmes) in a country in return for a specified financial investment in the nation. For many countries worldwide, these programmes are a means to attract foreign direct investment and bolster its national economy. While many countries around the world run their own citizenship by investment programmes, each country has its own investment threshold, due diligence standards, and timeframes (which can generally allow successful applicants citizenship within 3-6 months).


  • Citizenship by Investment
  • Citizenship by Investment Programme
  • CBI

Countries that offer economic

For more information on the programmes, take a look at our Ultimate Citizenship by Investment Guide.


In today’s mobile global economy, many high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) reside and conduct business at an international level and therefore need to travel often on short timelines. Generally, economic citizenship programmes do not have mandatory physical residency requirements, which means business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs can continue working from where they are already based without disruption. These programmes can also be an opportunity for families to protect themselves against risk with second citizenship.
What is a golden visa?
Golden visa is another branch of the investor immigration market and is a permit that allows individuals and their dependant family members to get residency in a country. Today, many European countries offer golden visa programmes to individuals looking to get residency, and often eventually citizenship only if they complete the required in-country stay. Although the required investment amounts vary, golden visa schemes are typically based on real estate acquisition, investment fund subscription, company or employment creation, capital transfer, or donation. Once you decide on your investment type, you can start your application process as the main applicant. Most golden visa programmes, like economic citizenship programmes, allow family inclusion. However, unlike many economic citizenship programmes that also allow the inclusion of grandparents and parents-in-law, golden visa programmes generally only allow immediate family members.


  • Residency by investment
  • Residency by investment programme
  • RBI

Some Popular Countries that offer golden visas schemes:


What makes the golden visa programmes an attractive option is that they sometimes lead to citizenship depending on the country’s residency requirements. In some countries, it’s five years. In some, you might be eligible only after ten years of full-time residency. To get a more in-depth understanding of all the terms mentioned, check out this post.

Comparison table:

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CS Global Partners is here to help
If you’re still a bit confused, don’t worry, we are a one-stop service to residency and second citizenship acquisition. CS Global Partners is the world’s largest government advisory and marketing firm with a team of industry and legal experts. We advise governments on investment immigration and help clients pinpoint the right Plan B for themselves and their families. Lifestyle choices vary, which is why we take the time to learn about your individual situation and requirements. Get in touch with us!