A Citizenship By Investment (CBI) scheme is the process to legally grant 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 CBI 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 the 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 who offer a CBI scheme include Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cyprus, Malta, and Vanuatu.
2018 saw another four countries announce their intention to launch CBI programmes – Jordan, Moldova, Montenegro and Turkey — three of whom are in their incipient stages, while Moldova’s has been cancelled.
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. 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 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.
It is inaccurate to assume that a CBI 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 European Residency By Investment, 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 CBI programme also grants the holder visa-free travel to the government-approved countries of that state. Each government has a list of approved 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 promise happy endings for all the difficult cases we deal with—a track record we are extremely proud of.
There are also two caveats to bear in mind: unlike native citizens, an economic citizen is typically stripped of the right to vote; and the fact that economic citizenship can be revoked under extraordinary circumstances. This is done so that native citizens feel safe in their home countries, but also to ensure that CBI programmes are not abused, which can happen if the quality of the programme is low, its 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.