Tag Archives: Citizenship by Investment

Spanish Residence by Investment: Who’s Eligible?

Increasingly, European governments are easing access to EU residence status and citizenship to wealthy foreigners.  Spain is one such country – since September 2013  offering residency to foreigners in return for a significant investment in the country.

The requirements
The legislation is quite straightforward; in return for an investment of €500,000 EUR in real estate (taxes not included); or €2,000,000 in Spanish Debt or; €1,000,000 in Spanish company shares or Spanish Financial institutions, non-EU nationals and their families can be granted a resident permit for a year, renewable every two years if the investment is maintained. It does not grant citizenship, but can lead to it later on.

The requirements to fill – excluding the capital – are minimal; a clear criminal and immigration history, subscription to a health insurance and proof that the applicants have enough money to sustain themselves. It should not be difficult for high net worth individuals to prove they will not be a burden on States’ finances!

The new legislation waives the previous requirement of six months of residency. Applicants to the visa only need to have visited Spain once before applying.

The permit gives investors the right to live in Spain and travel freely inside of Spain as well as within the 26-countries in the Schengen area. Family members can access schools both state and private – and given the strong internal links between European universities, will be granted easier access to universities in Europe including the UK.

An attractive offer
This new legislation has opened the door to thousands of potential investors – mainly Russian and Chinese – looking to benefit from Spain’s low property prices and the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

The initiative has revived the sagging property market which surplus inventory of between 700,000 and 1 million unsold homes as recently as 2012. Airports are now covered with real estate wall advertisements translated into Mandarin.

However, there are still some important questions that remain unanswered such as:

  • How soon can you sell the property without losing the residency status?
  • How can one become naturalized and obtain a Spanish passport after obtaining residency through this program?
  • Can foreign investors enjoy the resident status if they lease the property, in whole or in part?

Migreat experts provide answers to these questions in a single webinar happening September 2nd 2015, online at 3PM London Time. To attend,  register now on Migreat Immigration Webinar page.

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 Migreat.com




How much does it cost to become citizen of another country?

In most European countries, to be provided with citizenship rights will cost you to prove numerous years of legal residence within the country.

Exception made of a few islands in the Caribbeans, Malta and Cyprus where a handful of investment can get you a passport and full new citizenship straight-away.

This grant of citizenship – also called economic citizenship – is sought after by wealthy people as a way to escape political unrest, manage the value of their wealth and enjoy greater flexibility to travel the world.

We list here below and compare these five island where you can buy your way in. They are ranged from the most expensive to the least.

  • Cyprus: €2,500,000 to €5,000,000
Cypris citizenship is highly attractive to wealthy Russians, photo credit by Leonid Mamchenkov
Cypris citizenship is highly attractive to wealthy Russians.Photo credit by Leonid Mamchenkov

Applicants are required to either

– make an investment of at least €2m in shares and/or bonds of the Cyprus State Investment Company and donate at least €0.5m to the Cypriot Research and Technology Fund, or;

– make an investment of at least €5m in Cyprus. The following types of investments qualify

  • Property (but not undeveloped land)
  • Cypriot businesses or companies
  • Bonds, securities, debentures
  • Investment or participation in public works, or;

– deposit at least €5m in a Cypriot bank for three years on fixed terms.

– own, or partly-own, a company which has paid a certain amount taxes and other fees to the Cypriot government and which employs a certain number of people in Cyprus.

Cyprus is part of the EU. As such, you gain the right to live, work and study in the EU and the right to travel to 157 countries visa-free, including the EU.

  • Malta: starting at €1,050,000
Maltese Passport. Photo credits Jon Rawlinson
Maltese Passport. Photo credits Jon Rawlinson

Requirements: Applicants are required to make

– a non-refundable contribution of €650,000 to the National Fund and Economy of Malta,

– an investment in property of at least €350,000,

– finally, an investment of €150,000 in Gov bonds for the next five years.

Benefits: Malta is part of the EU. As such, you gain the right to live, work and study in the EU. As well as gain access to travel to 166 countries visa-free, including the EU.

  • St Kitts & Nevis* & Antigua & Barbuda: $250,000

    a panoramic view of English Harbour and southern Antigua from Shirley Heights by David Stanley
    a panoramic view of English Harbour and southern Antigua from Shirley Heights by David Stanley

Applicants to St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship are required to make either

– a non-refundable contribution of US$ 250,000 to the national Charity

– an $400,000 investment in real estate in the country.

Exceptions* The program is now closed for applicants from Afghanistan and Iran.

Applicants to Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship are required to make either

– a contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF) of a minimum non-refundable amount of US$200,000 (for a single applicant), or;

– an investment of at least US$400,000 into one of the approved real estate projects, or;

– an investment of a minimum of US$1,500,000 directly into an eligible business as a sole investor or a joint investment involving at least 2 persons.

Along investments,  both programs include significant administrative fees to be paid to the Government.

Citizens of Antigua & Barbuda and St Kitts & Nevis can travel like to 132 countries without the need to obtain a visa.

  • Dominica: $100,000
Photo Credit by Patrick Nouhailler
Photo Credit by Patrick Nouhailler

Applicants are required to make

– an non-refundable investment of $100,000 to the Dominican Government and;

– Pay administrative fees associated with the application.

Dominica is a Commonwealth nation. Its citizens get special privileges in the UK, and can travel up to 91 countries, including Switzerland, without a visa.

Dominica’s economic citizenship does not require residency terms. Dominica allows dual citizenship.

This second citizenship is a legal way to reduce taxes; revenue generated outside of Dominica is tax free, it is not subject to capital gains tax, or inheritance tax or any other tax. The application process is strictly confidential, with no disclosure or exchange of information


Interested in economic citizenship? Ask Migreat for more information and for support with your application.

Need help with citizenship to the UK? France? Germany? Italy or Spain? Ask us for help on migreat.com