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.
There is a myriad of routes one can take when seeking alternative citizenship. This can vary from descent, in which a family member like a grandparent held citizenship of that country, to naturalisation, where an individual has lived in a country long enough to become eligible for its citizenship. Marriage can also be a viable route to achieving dual citizenship. However, there is another faster route for those who are time-pressed and need a quick solution.
Citizenship by Investment Programmes have become a popular option amongst wealthy and middle-class families. Such programmes usually grant citizenship to an applicant once they make a qualifying investment into their country of choice. As of today, 14 CBI Programmes are operating across Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
However, it is the latter that is the industry’s crown jewel. Responsible for pioneering the industry, the Caribbean is home to five programmes as well as the industry’s first and longest-standing CBI option of St Kitts and Nevis. Notably, the region is renowned for its fast processing times and affordable options. On the island of Dominica and St Lucia, a single applicant only needs to invest $100,000 and can become a citizen within 90 days. While in comparison, similar programmes in Europe can require up to $1 million with processing time ranging from several months or up to a year.
Here is a closer look at some of the industry’s fastest options:
Established in 1993, Dominica offers one of the oldest CBI Programmes on the market. With nearly three decades of experience in the industry, the programme is recognised as a trusted product amongst investors. It has also been ranked as the world’s best offering for second citizenship for the last five years, scoring highly for its due diligence, affordability and family-friendly structure, amongst other key features. Applicants have two routes of investment to choose between, either contributing to a government fund or buying into selected real estate property.
Those who can successfully pass the rigorous due diligence process can expect to be granted citizenship within 90 days.
Despite relaunching its programme in 2013, Grenada has enjoyed success as one of the most attractive CBI options. This is primarily due to the ability to apply as an investor under the United States’ exclusive E-2 visa. Therefore, becoming a citizen of Grenada provides access to one of the world’s biggest economic giants. Similar to Dominica, Grenada’s programme has two investment channels: a government fund and real estate, and investors can hope to obtain citizenship within 90 days.
The oldest CBI Programme in existence is in St Kitts and Nevis and was launched in 1984 – one year after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom. The programme has been dubbed as a ‘Platinum Standard’ brand due to its longevity and renown. 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 Kitts and Nevis also has a limited time offer in place under its Sustainable Growth Fund. The temporary discount provides citizenship to a family of up to four for $150,000 rather than $195,000 and will run until 31st December 2021.
St Lucia offers the youngest Caribbean programme, which also happens to be the only one with four different options to invest in. Aside from the government fund and real estate, the programme has an enterprise route aimed at creating jobs and a choice of investing in government bonds. Similar to other Caribbean programmes, investors can gain receipt of citizenship within 90 days.
Outside of the Caribbean, there are a variety of programmes that offer similar benefits. Vanuatu, a country located in the South Pacific Ocean, gives clients two paths to citizenship which can be obtained within two to three months. The programme is particularly attractive amongst Chinese investors, who contribute to a large percentage of overall applications. Investments start at $130,000 for a single applicant.
Montenegro’s programme is the only one to have an end date. Launched in 2019, the programme was anticipated to only run for three years and will expire at the end of 2021. It also has a quota of 2,000 applications throughout this period, making it one of the most exclusive options on the market. To qualify, investors need to contribute to an approved real estate project with prices ranging from $250,000 to $450,000 and a processing time of three months. Montenegro also happens to be in the process of applying for EU membership, meaning that those who become citizens of the Balkan country could also become EU citizens by 2025.
While there are undoubtedly many benefits to becoming an EU citizen, 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.
CS Global Partners has over a decade of experience in the CBI industry, and we seek to offer the best advice to investors looking for second citizenship or permanent residency. We tailor specifically to the needs of our clients and their families.
Your first consultation is free of charge. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of our team.