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citizenship by investment - planning and benefits

How Citizenship by Investment Works - Programs, Benefits, Planning and Application Process

What is Citizenship by Investment?

Citizenship by investment is a means to secure second citizenship and passport in another country by investing in its economy.

This can be accomplished through different types of established investment options, including real estate, government bonds, establishing a business, development funds, etc.

Investment options and required investment sums vary greatly depending on the program and the type of investment. Citizenship by investment programs help obtain citizenship faster than traditional immigration processes.

How to get the most out of It?

There are several key ways to get the most out of your citizenship by investment.

First, it’s essential to define and prioritize your goals clearly. Some of the common motivations include mobility, finances, business opportunities, education, and lifestyle. It’s also important to determine how much capital you are willing and able to invest, whether you’re willing to reside in a different country, and the type of investment you’d like to make.

Once you’ve determined all of these factors, you can select a program that will be most aligned with your requirements and goals. Proper planning and research, paired with a skilled advisor, is the best way to get the most out of citizenship by investment.  



Economic citizenship is essentially the same thing as citizenship by investment. It’s a way to obtain second citizenship and a passport in another country by investing in its economy. This can be accomplished through different types of investment options, including real estate, government bonds, establishing a business, development programs, etc.

Investment options and required investment sums vary greatly depending on the country. Economic citizenship often refers to Caribbean citizenship by investment programs since these countries greatly depend on foreign investment as a means to develop. 


What is the difference between residency and citizeship?

There are a number of significant differences between the terms “residency” and “citizenship.”

What is citizen and how it is defined?

Citizen Rights

A citizen of a country, nation or state has rights that are not conferred on a resident. Citizens can confidently expect that they will hold their status and rights for life. In addition, citizenship status can be inherited by children and grandchildren.  Residents do not have these privileges or security. Each of these delegations entail different responsibilities, conditions and rights.

What qualifies you as a resident of a state?

Resident Rights

It is common for residents to have to renew their residency permits by continuing to satisfy the country’s legal requirements. These can include continuing to hold the initially-required investment, maintaining good health and clean criminal records, and meeting physical residency requirements. Residency status can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the laws of the respective country.

A High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) who is considering global citizenship, or obtaining a so-called “Golden Visa” should be familiar with the differences between citizenship and residency, the qualifying requirements, and the laws of a country before selecting it as their destination of choice.

Obtaining residency

Residency by investment is achieved when an applicant and their approved family members satisfy certain conditions. Those conditions vary by country and typically involve such criteria as:

  • Having a certain net worth
  • Investing required amounts in approved enterprises or institutions and holding those investments for as long as the immigration program demands
  • Meeting good health and clean criminal background checks
  • Passing cultural and language tests
  • Paying all legal, governmental and processing fees
  • Providing documentation to prove that the required conditions are met

Some countries, after a specific period, say 5 years, may require that immigrant investment residents only have to be of good health, have no criminal record, and continue to show they will not become a burden on the state, instead of also having to maintain the investment.

There are also governments, such as the island of Cyprus, that do not offer a period of residency. Successful investors become naturalized citizens in a single process of a few months.

Obtaining citizenship

Most countries that offer immigration through investment and Immigrant investor programs want to encourage entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals to choose their program, and thus offer the incentive of citizenship.

In most cases, citizenship follows an approved period of residency. However, some countries don’t require residency. These include Cyprus, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda - they offer citizenship within weeks, instead of years.


Permanent residency vs citizenship benefits

All we see there are a number of significant differences between permanent residency and citizenship. Now, lets take a look at the advantages of each one.

What are the permanent residency benefits

Permanent Residency Benefits

  • Receive most social benefits that citizens receive, including health care coverage
  • Live, study, work or do business anywhere in the country of residence*
  • May apply for citizenship under certain conditions
  • Residents of many countries are immediately able to travel, either visa-free or visa-on-arrival to other countries. This is valuable to anyone who wants to, for example, travel throughout the Schengen Zone.

*In some countries the ability to “work” does not mean seek employment. Countries like Greece and Cyprus only allow permanent residents to work within their own business, but not seek employment in the country’s workforce.

what are the benefits of being a citizen

Citizenship Benefits

  • There are no requirements to reside in the new country of citizenship
  • Benefit from more lenient tax laws, especially those governing inheritance
  • Be called on to act as jury members in criminal trials
  • You can apply for any job including government and high-security positions
  • Any children born after securing citizenship are automatically naturalized
  • Increased mobility and consular protection while you are abroad
  • Right to vote in elections and political opportunities
  • Social Benefits
  • No requirement to renew your Permanent Residence Card (PR)
  • You cannot be deported

Citizenship by Investment Options

When it comes to securing a second passport, it’s important to know all of your citizenship-by-investment options. Many countries offer residency and citizenship programs, each with different investment requirements and benefits. We’ve provided a brief overview below of the five different types. Depending on the program you choose, you can either invest in a single option or spread the investment across several different options.

citizenship by real estate investment

Real estate investment

These types of projects entail investing in commercial or residential property in your country of choice. The requirements can vary from total ownership of a property, fractional (shared) ownership in a major development or a lease for the required duration.

Shared ownership in a large development involves being a passive investor and not managing any part of the project. The USA’s EB-5 Visa Program (investment in Regional Center) is an example of passive investment leading to permanent residency, while the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CIP) is an option for either whole or fractional investment.

In Bulgaria, Project St. Sofia is a groundbreaking new real estate investment opportunity.  The first mega-resort development of its kind in Europe, it’s guaranteed to become a key landmark for business and leisure.  It’s a secure investment opportunity that offers the option to invest in real estate shares or an actual property with a title deed with high growth potential. Investors are eligible for fast-track citizenship after 1 year of permanent residency with no physical presence required.
Most Caribbean resort investments offer an annual financial return and include an opportunity for you to enjoy the resort facilities for at least one week each year.

In all real estate options, the initially invested amounts must be maintained for a minimum period, usually ranging from three to five years. You can then sell your share after the required duration at the current market value.


Government bonds

 Purchasing government bonds is a way to obtain permanent residency or citizenship without risking capital or being personally involved in a business enterprise. The respective country's government guarantees the bonds, and your full investment is returned without accruing interest. The minimum holding period is usually five years.

 If you’d prefer to finance the investment, your initial deposit is not returned, but rather used to finance the initial loan and cover other finance charges. Some countries like Bulgaria offer a fast-track to citizenship if you purchase an additional bond value.

The Quebec Investor Visa Program offers permanent residency to investors who make a one-time payment of CAN$1.2* million, leave it in place for 5 years, and then get it back after the required duration has elapsed, without accrued interest.
*The investment amount can be financed.


Business enterprise

If you’d like to expand your entrepreneurial empire by owning and running your own business in a different country, this option is for you.

Depending on the program chosen, securing a permanent residency or citizenship will enable you to easily trade within particular economic and geographic areas.

These types of investment options require potential investors to create new employment opportunities or preserve existing ones. The UK’s Innovator Category, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Lucia’s CIP allow for joint applications by investors who want to have shared ownership of a business.


Non-refundable donation to a government-supported program

This type of investment requires a sizable donation to an approved fund or charity in a particular country. It’s a philanthropic way to contribute to your new country’s economic development while making a positive impact. The donation varies according to the number of applicants and delivers all the benefits of citizenship.

The Best Citizenship by Investment Programs

All of the countries in this survey offer excellent tax regimes. Some are members of the European Union (EU), CARICOM, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Schengen Zone. Membership of these organizations opens up travel, temporary and permanent residency, and business opportunities to their members' citizens, including duty-free import and export trading opportunities.

Whatever your reasons for looking into residency or citizenship-by-investment, this short description of the best citizenship-by-investment programs will give you a first-class introduction.

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European citizenship by investment 

Sunrise over Highland Peaks - Scotland

The United Kingdom

The UK is a country with many international ties and a very popular investor destination.

The UK Citizenship by Investment Tier 1 (Investor) Program's details include:

  • A single, returnable investment of between £2 million and £10 million
  • The Tier 1 Visa will be issued within 12 weeks (depending on your country of origin), granting Leave to Remain for 3 years and 4 months (per current regulations). After which, it may be extended for a further 2 years. (This facility is only of interest to the £2 million investors)
  • Apply for ILR* after 2 years if you invest £10 million
  • Apply for ILR after 3 years if you invest £5 million
  • Apply for ILR if you invest the required £2 million

*Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement, which is equivalent of the permanent residency status.




Bulgaria has established itself as a very attractive destination for immigrant investors. It is strategically positioned within the European Union for international trade. Its historical association with the Russian Federation and other nations offers many benefits to global citizens.

Applicants may follow a standard or a fast-track process to achieve Bulgarian citizenship by investment.

The program basics are:

  • Standard investors can expect permanent residency in 6 months, and citizenship after 5 years
  • After 1 year residency, fast-track investors deposit a further €511,292 in real estate project or in government bonds (some of which may be financed) to be eligible for citizenship after 1 year from the initial standard investment.

The main benefits of the Bulgarian investor program are:

  • All children regardless of their age and marital status can apply for Bulgarian citizenship as soon as the main applicant becomes a Bulgarian citizen
  • No physical residency
  • No language requirement  
  • You can reside in any of the 27 member states of the EU
  • Lowest taxes in the EU - 10% flat for personal and corporate income earned in Bulgari


Cyprus Citizenship and Residency


Cyprus is at  the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and is one of the  easiest countries in the l European Union to gain citizenship.

  • Cyprus citizenship by investment program is speedy and simple.
  • Citizens receive all the rights of any EU citizen and do not need to be physically present in Cyprus.
  • Applicants invest from €2 up to several million in any approved project, from land development and infrastructure projects, alternative investment funds, start-up commercial enterprise to one of several luxury real estate projects.
  • Passports are issued within approximately 6-7 months.


Citizenship by Investment Program from Greece


The Greek Permanent Residency and Citizenship Program offers a pathway to secure permanent residency in Europe via an affordable real estate investment in Greece. Of all European residency by investment programs, Greece provides the most cost-effective investment.

  • As a Greek resident, you’re allowed to live in Greece permanently and travel visa-free across the Schengen Zone.
  • The application process for the Greek Residency Program is straightforward and should take about 1-2 months.
  • Invest in €250,000 in residential or commercial property in Greece.
  • After 7 years of continuous residency, the applicant may apply for citizenship, providing that all of the other conditions are met.


Raut river and mountains at sunset in Moldova


Moldova is a lovely eastern European country nestled between Ukraine and Romania - it’s strategically located, with easy access to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Launched in the second half of 2018, the Moldova Citizenship by Investment Program (MCBI) was developed by the Government of the Republic of Moldova to use the foreign investments generated by the MCBI program to power Moldova’s expansion across all sectors.

The minimum, non-refundable contribution to the Public Investment Fund depends on the size of your family.

  • EUR 100,000 for a single applicant
  • EUR 115,000 for a couple
  • EUR 145,000 for a family of four
  • EUR 155,000 for a family of five or more

In addition to the investment,  processing and due diligence fees are required by the government of Moldova.

Canadian citizenship by investment

The benefits of Canadian residency and citizenship have made it the world’s most sought-after country for investor immigrants. Its economy is the world’s 11th strongest, its population is well-educated, and the country has a great reputation for being welcoming.

Mountain lake landscape and Young Woman in Canada


Nova Scotia Nominee Selection Program

The Nova Scotia Nominee Selection Program (NSNP) attracts high-net-worth applicants who want to settle in the province and meet its labor market and other economic needs. It is also a path to a Permanent Residency in Canada.

Applicants for Nova Scotia Entrepreneur Stream must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have a verified net and unencumbered minimum of CAN$600,000 in personal and business assets that may be transferred into the province
  • Agree to invest a minimum of CAN$150,000 in a Nova Scotia business
  • All assets must have been legally acquired
  • Demonstrate, during the previous 10 years, a minimum of 3 years business ownership (of at least 33.33%) or more than 5 years’ experience as a senior business manager
  • Meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French
  • Have a minimum of Canadian high school diploma (or its foreign equivalent)
  • Agree to settle and to reside in Nova Scotia

Dependent family members and other relatives (as defined by NSNP) may also be included under the same application.

Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

While Canada has many different immigration programs, the Québec Investor Visa offers a route to Canada citizenship by investment. Providing that the applicant has met all the other requirements such as physical residency, he/she can apply for citizenship after 3 years.

  • Applicants must invest a minimum of CAN$1,200,000 in a government-guaranteed investment and hold it there for a period of five years.
  • Or pay a reduced amount of CAN$330,000 to finance a closed 62-month term loan through an approved
  • Demonstrate at least two years of business management experience in the five years prior to applying
  • Have a net worth of at least CAN$2 million individually, or combined with your partner/spouse.
  • Applicants must satisfy both the Québec selection and the Canadian admission requirements.

Caribbean citizenship by investment


From the hill of Belair, Grenada


Grenada's citizenship by investment program is very fast and beneficial. Approved applicants should receive their citizenship after 60 business days from application. The entire process is kept strictly confidential. To be awarded citizenship, applicants may:

  1. Choose to make a non-refundable contribution of at least $150,000* to the National Transformation Fund (NTF)
  2. Invest up to $350,000 in approved real estate projects and hold the investment for a minimum of 3 years
  3. Become a co-owner of a single unit with another main applicant. Each main applicant must pay a minimum purchase price of $220,000 plus the usual government contribution of at least $ 50,000
  4. Purchase full ownership of a unit at a minimum price of $ 350,000, plus the usual government contribution of at least $ 50,000
  • *$150,000 investment for a single applicant to the NTF
  •  $200,000 for a family of 4

 The following relatives of the main applicant are eligible to be included in the application:

  • Spouse and children under 18
  • Dependent children between the ages of 18 and 30 years old - no longer required to be enrolled in a college or university
  • Siblings of the investor and the spouse who are unmarried and without children
  • Children born within 12 months of the granting of citizenship
  • Parents or grandparents of the investor or the spouse younger than  55 - no longer required to be financially dependent on the main applicant

Grenada has an E-2 Investor Treaty with the USA, enabling citizens to own a business in the USA and achieve temporary residence there.

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Amazing view of Roseau, Dominica at dusk


The Commonwealth of Dominica is known for its safe, happy, vibrant lifestyle. It has become a major center for international financial services. The Dominica citizenship by investment program enables applicants to become citizens in 4 to 6 months.

Applicants choose one of two options:

  • Donation
Contribute a non-returnable minimum amount of $100,000 (depending on how many family members are included) into the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF)

  • Real Estate Investment

Investment of at least $400,000, split between two investors at a contribution of $200,000 each, plus government fees.  


Dependent family members, including spouses, children below 30, and parents over 55, can apply. 


St Kitts might be a better choice for citizenship by investment

St. Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis offers several avenues for investors to secure a full citizenship for themselves and their families through economic contributions.

The St. Kitts citizenship by investment program currently has 2 options available: investing in approved real estate developments, or making a non-refundable donation to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF). We’ve provided more details on each of these below

National Development Fund (NDF) Donation
  • $150,000 for a single applicant
  • $195,000 for a family of 4
  • $10,000 for any additional eligible* dependent regardless of age
Real Estate Investment
  • Investment of at least $400,000, split between two investors at a contribution of $200,000 each, plus government fees.

Antigua and Barbuda provides great benefits for its citizens!

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a beautiful Caribbean country that offers citizenship within approximately 3 - 4 months from application.

Citizens enjoy all the rights of a CARICOM member nation, and may also capitalize on some specific benefits offered by the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment program, such as being eligible for a 10-year, multiple-entry visa to the U.S.A. Applicants with a personal high net worth attain citizenship by selecting one of several options:

National Development Fund (NDF) Donation

  • Family of 4: $100,000 donation / $25,000 processing fee
  • Family of 5 or more: $125,000 / $25,000 processing fee / $15,000 additional processing fees for each person beyond 4
Real Estate Investment
  • Invest $400,000* in a pre-approved real estate development and hold the investment for a minimum of 5 years
*Through October 31, 2019, two applicants from related parties can make a joint investment, with each applicant investing a minimum of $200,000.

Twin Pitons and sunlit flowers in Saint Lucia

St. Lucia 

St. Lucia offers many benefits to its citizens, including  its relaxed lifestyle, tropical climate, world-class entertainment, and access to direct flights to all of the Americas, Caribbean nations, and Europe.

The St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program was established in 2015, making it the newest Caribbean CIP.

Benefitting from the decades of experience other Caribbean CIPs have, St. Lucia has had the advantage of implementing only the best practices of each one.

 St. Lucia National Economic Fund
  • $100,000 - Main applicant
  • $165,000 - Main applicant and spouse
  • $190,000 - Main applicant, spouse and two qualifying dependents
  • $25,000 - Each additional qualifying dependent
 Real Estate Investment
  • $300,000 in a government approved property

Other investment options offered by St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment program are investment in government-approved enterprise projects and investment in government bonds.


What do Countries Get from Citizenship by Investment Programs?

Countries stand to gain many different benefits in exchange for offering citizenship and passport by investment:

  1. Helps stimulate the economy via foreign direct investment and job creation.
  2. Development funds - capital to develop various projects and programs within the country.
  3. Real estate - increased property development projects, whether it be residential developments, or commercial, tourism-boosting hotels, resorts and villas.
  4. Attracts global talent and brings new business into the country - many high net worth individuals opt to start a business as a means to gain economic citizenship, which has the potential to create new jobs and boost the economy.

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Citizenship by Investment Planning

Securing a second citizenship requires detailed planning and careful preparation. The process can be meticulous, but each required step is clearly defined and there are many resources available to help guide you.

Why do you want to become a global citizen?


This may sound like an obvious question, but citizenship by investment programs vary greatly by country, with each one offering a different set of benefits. To choose the best one for your needs, you need to determine your primary goal(s) for pursuing a second passport.

The most popular ones include:

  • The convenience and mobility of visa-free travel
  • Global business and investment opportunities
  • Advantageous tax regimens and asset safeguarding
  • Geographical location
  • Improved quality of life including better healthcare, education, culture, and infrastructure
  • The security of an alternate place to live in times of political instability or natural disasters

Before you choose a desired program for your citizenship we strongly suggest to answer the questions below for yourself so you know exactly what conditions you need.able to submit your citizenship application while having free capital for other investment opportunities.

1. What is your allotted investment budget? 

Each program entails a different investment amount and fees, so it’s important to consider cost requirements when choosing a country.

2. Do you need to finance the investment amount rather than making a lump sum payment?

Financing your investment can be advantageous since you’ll be able to submit your citizenship application while having free capital for other investment opportunities.

3. What are your desired investment terms?

Are you looking solely for a guaranteed return on your investment, or are you willing to take a chance on a “risky”  venture? A third, more philanthropic option is a non-returnable donation to a development fund in your country of choice.

4. How quickly do you need to achieve citizenship?

You can secure residency or citizenship within a few months or a few years, depending on the respective country’s program.

5. Are you planning to reside in your country of choice? If not, how much time are you willing and able to spend there?

Different programs have different physical residency requirements, so you’ll need to determine if you’re looking for a country to serve as a second home and place to conduct business, or simply as a means to secure other benefits. If you’re leaning toward the latter and don’t intend to reside in the country, you’ll need to make sure you can satisfy the program’s physical residency requirements. Otherwise, select a program that does not have such requirements.

6. How important are the country’s international economic memberships and visa-free travel arrangements?

Is your goal to secure visa-free travel to as many countries as possible? Determine the geographic region to which you’re trying to gain visa-free access. Just as an example, is visa-free travel around the EU more important than visa-free access around CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market)?

7. Is your primary goal to secure an advantageous tax regimen and secure asset protection?

Some countries offer better tax policies than others. Things to consider are tax rates, tax incentive schemes for new capital investment, or no double taxation agreements with other countries. Some countries have no capital gains tax, personal income tax, wealth tax, inheritance tax, or gift tax; no estate duty, and no income tax paid on income from dividends or interest. If the taxation aspect is important, choose a country that has the most advantageous policies.

8. What is the importance of the country’s geographical location?

 If you plan to reside in the country or spend extensive amounts of time there for business, then the geographic location, climate, and infrastructure are important things to consider.

9. How important is language, education opportunities, health care, business opportunities, tax regimens, lifestyle, and culture for your family?

 If you plan to reside in the country for extended periods of time, these are key so make sure that you have a good knowledge of what each country has to offer!


Honestly answer all of the questions above and score the importance of each item on your list. This will help you narrow down your choices.

Once your list of priorities is established, you’re ready for the next step: choosing you citizenship by investment program and country.

Citizenship by investment application process

citizenship document application

Once you’ve selected a country and program, it’s time to fill out and submit the application.

Citizenship application steps:

  1. Choose a country and the investment route you will take to gain residency and/or citizenship.
  2. Sign our Retainer Agreement and/or power of attorney forms so that a representative can navigate the application process for you.
  3. Gather all of the required documents. We can help clarify which documents you can provide on your own, and which must be produced by medical, law enforcement, and other officials. Commonly-required documents include a birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of finances, proof of good health, clean criminal record, etc.
  4. Have your documents translated and notarized as required.
  5. Pay the required application and processing fees.
  6. Submit (via our office) your file with the official application, required fees, and proof of the investment sum held in an approved escrow account, as well as proof of real estate contract(s) if required.
  7. Arrange to visit the consular office or your designated country, if necessary.

What happens once your application is submitted?

The respective government agency confirms that they have received your file.

  1. The receiving office reviews your file, and confirms full compliance or requests any additional information.
  2. Background checks are completed.
  3. Once initial approvals are made, your file is transferred to the appropriate Citizenship by Investment institution for approval.
  4. Approval is granted (subject to final investment amount being received).
  5. Investment amount is released by the escrow agent.
  6. Receipt of funds is confirmed.
  7. Certificate of residency or citizenship is granted.
  8. Final visit to the country or their consular office for official confirmation and issuing of passports, if required.


The list above provides an overview of the standard steps required to secure permanent residency or citizenship. Each country has its own process, so the requirements will vary slightly depending on the program you choose. Some countries do not require you to be physically present at all, while others require at least one visit, or even long-term physical residency before they grant citizenship.

When you have reviewed the steps, shortlisted your options, and compiled your initial questions, book a free consultation.

We look forward to helping you on your journey to securing a second citizenship through investment



Vicky Katsarova, CEO

“My world travels and my own immigration experiences have given me a deep understanding and clear insight into each of our clients’ specific requirements, aspirations and concerns. It is this intense personal association with client expectations and needs that helps to set our company and our service apart.”


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