The concept of citizenship has evolved over the last decades particularly as more countries warm to the idea of their citizens holding multiple nationalities. With globalisation bringing us closer than ever, it has become increasingly common for individuals to have ties to multiple countries. This has prompted the need to hold dual citizenship to access benefits, services, and protection in those jurisdictions.
Traditional immigration paths include ancestral visas, residency permits, naturalisation, marriage. These routes to immigration are long and often tricky, and there is no guarantee that it will be successful. In recent years, many nations have also tightened their policies, making immigration time consuming, expensive and very difficult.
Acquiring second citizenship can be a headache for those who were not lucky enough to be born with two citizenships. However, individuals unable to obtain dual citizenship in traditional ways have citizenship by investment (CBI) to look to as a viable path.
CBI is the quickest and easiest way for time-poor investors to acquire second citizenship. These programmes offer well-vetted individuals (and their families) the opportunity to legally acquire second citizenship in return for an investment in the host country’s economy. Moreover, CBI programmes provide citizenship status without causing significant disruptions to an investor’s life. This is because, in most cases, applicants do not need to move or even travel to the country in which they want second citizenship, provided they pass all the due diligence checks first, make a qualifying investment, and submit all the correct documentation.
There are 14 CBI programmes currently operating across the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe. The highest concentration, and the birthplace of CBI, happens to be in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is renowned for its ease and speed of processing and is home to five programmes, including the industry’s first and longest-running CBI option of St Kitts and Nevis.
The CBI application process is multi-tiered and involves detailed paperwork, which includes both forms and supporting documents. In some jurisdictions, it can be a labour-intensive task for applicants. In other regions, it is more straightforward where the applicant receives clear instructions on how to proceed. Along with speed and affordability, the ease of processing is particularly attractive to investors as it promises a smooth and hassle-free process.
Here is a closer look at some of the industry’s most accessible options:
Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme was established in 1993 and stands as one of the industry’s oldest CBI programmes. It is known for being one of the world’s most transparent and efficient options for second citizenship. It has been ranked as the world’s best offering for second citizenship for the last five years, scoring highly for its ease of processing in the CBI Index.
The programme offers two investment opportunities: a one-time contribution to the Economic Diversification Fund or buying into Government approved real estate.
The application is straightforward as applicants do not have to attend an interview, and there are no travel or residence requirements either before or after the process. Applicants do not need to learn English, nor show business experience or minimum level of education.
Paperwork required includes five applications forms and supporting documentation such as birth/marriage certificates, police records, coloured copies of identity documents and driver’s license, and proof of residential address.
Those who can successfully pass the rigorous due diligence process can expect to be granted citizenship within 90 days.
The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme was restructured, redeveloped, and relaunched in 2013. The programme also scored high for its ease of processing pillar in the CBI Index.
Grenada’s programme offers two options for investment: a one-off donation to the National Transformation Fund or an investment in a government-approved real estate project, which itself presents two choices.
The application process is simple and does not require applicants to sit for an interview, fulfil travel or residence requirements or demonstrate business experience or proficiency in English, and investors can hope to obtain citizenship within 90 days.
However, the applicant is required to complete six official forms, attend a medical examination, and obtain supporting documents such as a police certificate and identity, marriage and birth certificates. These forms must be submitted in English and be appropriately legalised. If the applicant is purchasing real estate, it will need to be reserved through a sale and purchase agreement.
Established in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme is the world’s most longstanding economic citizenship programme and has been named the ‘Platinum Standard’ brand due to its reputation. St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI programme received full marks in the ease of processing pillar in the CBI Index.
The programme offers four ways in which an applicant can apply for second citizenship: a one-time donation to the Sustainable Growth Fund, investing in pre-approved real estate, purchasing a private home, or choosing the ‘alternative investment option’.
The process is straightforward as there are no interview, language, education or business requirements for any investment options. Applicants are not required to travel to the country, nor is there a minimum residence stay either before or after citizenship has been obtained.
The applicant must complete between three and four application forms (depending on the investment option selected) along with supporting documents such as certified copies of birth certificates, proof of nationality, current passport, and police clearance certificate, among others.
The country is the only CBI jurisdiction that offers applicants a fast-track route to citizenship. Under the Accelerated Application Programme, those who pay an additional fee can obtain citizenship within 60 days or as little as 45 days.
St Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is the Caribbean’s newest programme and was established in January 2016. The programme scored highly in the ease of processing pillar in the CBI Index.
The programme offers three options to investors: a one-off donation to the National Economic Fund, investment into a government-approved real estate project, or a pre-approved enterprise project.
The process is straightforward as applicants do not need to attend an interview, reside or travel to the island. Applicants are not required to learn English or to prove and education or business skills.
The applicant will be required to complete eight forms and submit them along with supporting documents such as certified copies of birth and marriage certificates, identity cards, current passport, resume, among others.
Similar to other Caribbean programmes, investors can gain receipt of citizenship within 90 days.
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment Programme began accepting applications in 2017. The programme gives investors one option to invest via a direct contribution to the Government.
The applicant is required to complete a form and submit it with certified copies of birth and marriage certificates, identity cards, current passport, and a police clearance certificate, amongst others.
The process to second citizenship in Vanuatu is straightforward, with no residence or interview requirement. By law, applicants are required to speak and understand Bislama, English, French, or a vernacular of Vanuatu. However, this requirement is not implemented in practice.
Approved applicants residing in a foreign country must travel to Vanuatu to complete their Oath of Allegiance as it can only be made in the nation’s court. However, this has been suspended due to Covid-19 and applicants are temporarily allowed to take the Oath of Allegiance via video conference.
The Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Programme was launched in 2019 and is limited by volume and time, being capped at 2000 applications and slated to run until 31 December 2021. The programme offers investors the opportunity to contribute to an approved real estate project with prices ranging from $250,000 to $450,000 in return for citizenship.
The process is relatively straightforward, and applicants do not need to fulfil any mandatory residence requirements before or after citizenship is granted. However, applicants must travel to Montenegro to receive their final decision and to supply biometrics. Furthermore, there is no language test, business experience, or military service required.
Documents required include certified copies of passports and ID cards, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, health insurance, and health certificate.
Citizenship by investment provides a direct and time-efficient path to legally acquiring citizenship and can be the most efficient route for time-poor business people.
However, direct CBI routes in Europe encompass some of the slowest processing times available. For example, under Bulgaria’s Immigrant Investor Programme, application processing can take several years depending on the investment route chosen. Even under the programme’s ‘fast track’ option, citizenship may only be obtained after many months of submission.
Similarly, if one were to pursue CBI in Austria – a country that has established one of the industry’s most ambiguous processing systems – a turnaround time of no less than two years is to be expected.
Elsewhere in Europe, under Malta’s new Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, 2020, obtaining citizenship is at least a 13-month endeavour. This is because applicants must complete a one-year residence period in Malta before applying for citizenship and take some time to undergo all related procedures, such as the provision of biometrics. CS Global Partners is a certified Referral-Sub Agent under Malta’s new Regulations. Our licence number is AKM-ACCA-21.
The Caribbean and nations such as Vanuatu and Montenegro provide more appealing options to the ever-busy investor, at least where processing speed is concerned. And, if speed is top-of-mind, only St Kitts and Nevis can provide an inevitable, 60-day turnaround.
These programmes are a relatively easy way to gain much-needed dual citizenship status.
CS Global Partners is a leading international legal and marketing advisory specialising in providing citizenship and residency solutions. We hold official government mandates to promote the Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme.
We offer premium advice to investors seeking second citizenship or residency recommendations. Your first consultation is free of charge. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of our team.
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