Citizenship by investment (CBI) is the process that legally grants individuals—and, in some cases, their families—a second citizenship in exchange for a financial contribution to the host country’s economy
The concept of citizenship by investment was first developed in the Caribbean, with St Kitts and Nevis being the first to offer the scheme in 1984. There are only a handful of countries around the world that currently offer a citizenship by investment programme, five of which are located in the Caribbean. This includes Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis. Other countries that offer a citizenship by investment scheme include Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, and Vanuatu. Persons wanting to obtain citizenship in Malta may do so under the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, 2020. But first, one must hold residence status in Malta for at least 12 months and pass an eligibility assessment. CS Global Partners is a certified Referral-Sub Agent under Malta’s new Regulations. Our licence number is AKM-ACCA-21.
2018 saw another four countries announce their intention to launch citizenship by investment programmes – Jordan, Moldova, Montenegro and Turkey. Montenegro’s programme is due to be cancelled at the end of 2021, while Moldova cancelled in September 2020.
You can check and compare all active economic citizenship programmes using the CBI Index, which produces annual rankings of all the available programmes. It is typically issued in late August every year by the Professional Wealth Management, a publication of the Financial Times.
The terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘passport’ are often incorrectly interchanged, so it’s important to establish the difference between them. Citizenship represents the relationship between a state and an individual, granting them 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 or visa-on-arrival travel to specific countries, depending on the deals made between the respective governing bodies. Some passports grant visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to more countries than others.
It is inaccurate to assume that a citizenship by investment programme can be reduced to idioms like ‘buy a passport scheme’ or ‘passport for sale’. In some cases, it can even be confused with a “golden visa”, which actually refers to a Residency By Investment Programme, which is an entirely different concept.
Having a second citizenship can help individuals avoid unfair persecution from certain states or escape from a conflict-torn region. It can also provide an alternative to political asylum, security from an unstable environment, or a better education and lifestyle for children.
Holding dual citizenship through a citizenship by investment programme also enables use of visa-free travel treaties. Each government has signed treaties with countries that citizens can visit without having to deal with lengthy and often costly visa applications.
At CS Global Partners, we have worked with clients from many walks of life, witnessing situations where the success and speed of an application was a matter of physical survival. Our legal background and experience across the board in investment immigration and multinational in-house teams allows us to achieve happy endings for the difficult cases we deal with—a track record we are extremely proud of.
There are also two caveats to bear in mind: an economic citizen may not be granted the right to vote economic citizenship may be revoked under extraordinary circumstances. These provisions help ensure that citizenship by investment programmes are not abused, which can happen if the quality of the programme is low, due diligence checks are undermined or poorly managed, or the country’s external partnerships are strained for valid reasons. Learn more about the CBI Benefits here.