WHAT IS CITIZENSHIP?
Citizenship is the relationship between an individual and a nation state whereby the state grants the citizen certain rights, such as the right to vote, work and own property, and in return the citizen accepts the responsibility of upholding the laws and customs of that state. Citizenship unites different people under a common identity.
Traditional means of acquiring citizenship and the corresponding passports have been birth, naturalization and marriage. Naturalization is the process by which a resident of a country can acquire citizenship usually by residing in that country for a certain number of years. Since 1984 investment in the host country has been another way of acquiring citizenship.
WHAT IS CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT?
Citizenship by investment is the process of obtaining a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country. Citizenship by investment programs legally confer citizenship status faster than traditional immigration processes and do so without requiring investors to put their lives on hold.
WHY DO PEOPLE INVEST IN A SECOND CITIZENSHIP?
There are many reasons to invest in a second citizenship, from personal safety to increased global mobility. Applications can be approved in as little as three months, resulting in citizenship for life, a valid passport, visa-free travel and more. Economic citizenship opens up a world of possibilities to high net worth investors.
A second passport from a stable, peaceful country can be life-saving in the event of any kind of political unrest in one’s home country. This type of insurance is priceless for investors and their families.
Many passports are quite restrictive in their visa-free mobility, forcing citizens to obtain visas whenever they need to travel abroad. A second passport can offer individuals from these countries increased global mobility. For example, the passport of Pakistan allows visa-free entry into only 40 countries, whereas the passport of Cyprus allows visa-free entry to 164 countries. The difference in global mobility equals an incredible amount of time saved filing visa applications and is priceless to businesspeople the world over.
New business opportunities open up to participants in citizenship by investment programs as they can now do business in the host country as well as travel abroad more freely.
Dual citizenship may prove advantageous for tax optimization purposes. For example, some countries only tax income earned from that country and do not subject capital gains to taxes either. This allows investors to manage their wealth more efficiently and effectively.
Most citizenship by investment programs are available to the family members of the main applicant. This means that investors can secure a better future for their spouse and children. Second citizenships offer access to world-class health care, education and an improved lifestyle.
Education is the foundation of a successful life as a global citizen. Investing in a second citizenship can open up access to the best schools in the world for applicants and their children by qualifying them for domestic rather than international tuition fees.
WHAT DO COUNTRIES GAIN FROM CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAMS?
Many countries offer citizenship by investment programs in order to attract much-needed foreign direct investment. Countries can then use these funds to invest in their own projects, such as real estate development, business development and job creation. CBI programs also attract global talent and know-how aimed at boosting the economy.
For example, St. Kitts & Nevis applicants can invest in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, which aims to assist the government and country in transitioning to a more diversified economy. The foundation supports the government, but also undertakes new projects itself. To date, the foundation has invested more than US$55 million in the development of St. Kitts & Nevis.
WHICH COUNTRIES OFFER CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAMS?
Many countries offer citizenship by investment programs. The number of these programs is constantly increasing as more and more countries realize the economic advantages of opening their doors to immigrant investors.