Citizenship for Sale

Henley’s Partners lavish annual Forum provides wealthy investors and high-net worth individuals with the latest information on the next frontier of wealth management: the acquisition of a second passport also called citizenship by investment.

Dolder Hotel Teaser

On the first week of May 2015, 200 people composed of global leaders like the Prime Minister of Malta and the UNHCR representative for Refugees converged on the Dolder Hotel in Zurich to discuss the relatively new and growing market for citizenship by investment schemes that offer high-net-worth individuals more security over their wealth. Migreat was there. Here are four main take-aways on the current status of citizenship by investment schemes.

1. A growing number of citizenship and/or residence by investment schemes are available

Islands of the Caribbean and of the Mediterranean are not the only ones offering the possibility for rich investors to become the holder of two passports. The conference introduced Portugal, the UK, Spain and Canada as countries that have introduced or have current processes for investors to acquire residency and citizenship. Here is a quick look at four investor programs that provide access to 172 countries in the world without the need for a visa to enter.

Portugal offers a Golden Residence Permit Program to individuals investing in Portugal either by

  • transferring capital of a minimum value of €1,000,000
  • acquiring real estate of a minimum value of €500,000
  • creating ten new jobs

And you only need to spend seven days per year in Portugal, after which you can become eligible for citizenship after six years.

Similarly, Spain offers three options to investors (capital transfer in a company or Spanish debt, investment in real estate of €500,000 or creation of a business) with less strict requirements for entrepreneurial investors starting a business (the business only needs to be recognised as “innovative, creating employment and of general interest to Spain”). The program is generous in the sense that it provides residency to wealthy investors and their families straightaway without the need to stay a minimum of days in Spain, provides access to the Schengen area and ease the possibility to apply for citizenship five years later.

The United Kingdom continues welcoming wealthy investors after having raised the minimum threshold for its investor immigration program to £2,000,000 (GBP). However, residency is a must with a maximum of 180 days spent outside the UK per year allowed – but the route to settlement can be sped up if more capital is invested: £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 invested will allow investors and their family to apply for permanent settlement after either three or two years.

Canada just ended its previous immigrant investor programme and has launched a new one this year that will grant 50 investors with over a million Canadian dollars in liquid capital permanent residency. However the application period for this year is now over.

2. With so many citizenship by investment options, there is increased competition…

Figuring out which is scheme is best for you is the new question. At the conference, experts confirmed that the UK and Switzerland are still the preferred options for high net worth individuals due to their long tradition of welcoming foreign investment and the secrecy with which they are allowed to operate. Malta is an up and comer and is becoming an attractive destination since its program has received the approval of the EU.

3. … and comes regulations

Many speakers at the conference discussed the hidden side of citizenship by investment schemes: the compliance process & personal checks that each application undergoes. Interventions from Michael Harris, an expert in due diligence at Thomson Reuters and the announcement of the recent launch of an association of professionals dealing with Investor Immigration and Citizenship-by-Investment, reaffirmed the development of expertise and high ethical standards within the industry.

4. … all of this for the greater good 

The industry often has a bad reputation for issuing passport to wealthy individuals who are trying to avoid taxes or legal issues (and even terrorists). However, more importantly it raises a sensitive moral question: can citizenship be bought and sold like a commodity? Herein lies the irony if one considers that one of the foundations of a modern state is that citizenship is a contract-based right – so can’t it be a financial contract too?

Nevertheless, these schemes have positive direct impact that cannot be ignored. St. Kitts was able to emerge from the global financial crisis far ahead of its neighbors in the Caribbean thanks to its Citizenship-by-Investment program. The UNCHR was granted 1 million Euros by Henley’s & Partners  to support registration UNHCR’s Global refugee registration activities.


Citizenship-by-Investment programs are shining a light on the passport market that has been pushed forward by the growing number of millionaires coming from developing countries that are looking to benefit from the same standards around wealth management that the developed world enjoys. Not to mention the freedom to travel the world without visa hassles.

Migreat will continue report on visa programs and visa opportunities. For questions related to visa and immigration to Europe, please visit




9 thoughts on “Citizenship for Sale”

  1. i am kamal batcha mohamed rafi intersting to start businees in best country euroupian sector import and re export to middle east

    basically we are from india now settled in qatar we have businees in qatar pl sent good idea and resgister application

    Thanks regards

    Kamal Batcha Mohamed Rafi -( General Manager ) *Gulf Ghazal & Kamalco Groups* Mobile : 00974 55811293 Tel : 00974 44693131


    1. Hi Kamal,
      Sounds like an ambitious plan 🙂 Let us know if you need to speak with an immigration expert in business and relocation. offers to redirect to the best experts in Europe to help a smooth move in europe. Hope that helps,


  2. I, and my family victims of violences we are claiming for resettlement and another citizens, right now we are living in uganda kampala we left the dr. Congo since 2010 – 2011 we failed to integrate ugandan cultures and social conditions of life our life is really going bad day after day. Please if you can help us and give another chance to restart a new life…


    1. Hi Kangombe,

      I am really sorry to hear so. Migreat is a website providing information and that can help you connect to people. We can’t do much more but provide you with information on legal ways you can move somewhere safe and give you connections to people that can help.

      From your name I am assuming you are from the African continent – though, I could be wrong.

      I suggest you start looking for information on resettlement and if it possible for you to ask for refugee status on Migreat African Communities. We have one in London and one in Paris:

      I hope that helps,


  3. I am Saurabh Kashyap. Interesting to start businees in Spain,Ronda, in Game development sector. Basically we are from india now working in online e-commerce,, I am looking for partner who i can join and get invitation to stay and work there. We have businees in India please send a good plan to form and settle the business in Spain,Europe.
    Thanks regards – Saurabh Kashyap


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s