In today’s globalized world, individuals live and conduct business on an international scale, and the option of a second or even third residence or citizenship, and the freedom that comes with it, is enormously attractive. Countries themselves are also looking for new ways to generate growth, and governments have increasingly become focused on the benefits of offering individuals residence or citizenship in return for some form of economic investment.
While residence is granted to investors and wealthy individuals in most countries, there are currently only eight countries which offer citizenship-by-investment programs that provide a direct route to citizenship based on investment: Austria, Antigua and Barbuda, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malta, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia.
Citizenship by investment programs offer individuals the opportunity to legally acquire a new citizenship quickly and simply. Other countries offer a route to citizenship following a reasonable period of residence, such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Portugal, the UK and the US. For wealthy individuals who hold passports of countries with fewer visa waiver agreements, a second passport can open up travel to countries previously restricted by time-consuming visa application requirements and processes. This second passport gives a business person access to the global market, which in turn creates opportunities for growth. But also more generally, investors and their families are increasingly relocating to regions that can simultaneously provide them with better security, quality of life, education, and help them expand their businesses.
In Europe, Cyprus
has established a number of incentives to attract foreign direct investment into the country, one of these is a citizenship by investment program that grants full Cypriot citizenship to those that invest more than €2.5 million in real estate and who meet other requirements. Successful applicants gain the right to live, work and study in all 28 EU member countries. The Cypriot property market saw an increase in property demand from 2004-2008, which led to developers increasing supply to meet the demand. Again here, following the global financial downturn, the demand for real estate dropped leaving completed properties available in 2009. The prices reduced to an extent and created a strong opportunity for buyers. The focus of the Cyprus real estate market has always been residential property and specifically within the luxury segment, second homes. The property options in Cyprus that offer buyers the highest value for money include seafront properties and integrated master planned communities, often with a golf course or community at their core, offering properties that cater to all types of owners and include locals, new residents, second home owners and vacationers.
has a good reputation, having developed a business infrastructure over the past 15 years. Since the island nation joined the EU in 2004, its financial industry has experienced substantial growth, offering a number of advantages for business people. The Malta property market is correcting itself after the global financial downturn, which has created a strong opportunity for investors. The amount of new properties added to the Maltese real estate market each year has been declining significantly since 2009, and this shrinkage has helped stabilize the situation, causing prices to start to pick up.
With beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters, the tropical island of Antigua and Barbuda
is an appealing location for investors. The island signed a visa waiver agreement with the EU in 2009, which allows its citizens to visit Schengen countries without a visa. In fact, its passport provides visa-free travel to 134 countries around the world. Antigua and Barbuda is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, and as a result tourism is the key driver of the GDP, generating around 60 percent of the island’s income, with key target markets being the US, Canada and Europe. A popular route to attaining citizenship in the Caribbean is by investing in an approved real estate development. The citizenship by investment programs here have a number of key advantages for successful applicants, including high levels of visa-free access to, among other countries, the UK, Europe, and excellent air links to North America and Europe.
Those opting for the real estate route to citizenship, such as in the Four Seasons Resort Estates on St Kitts and Nevis
, are welcome to reside in their property on full time basis. However, in many resorts they may also consider entering their property into the rental program to capitalize on the demand for rooms at the resort. Nevis is an exclusive Caribbean destination with impressive natural beauty, and a rich history with varied influences from different cultures. The island offers sunshine almost year-round, and a diverse range of landscapes. It also offers the longest-established citizenship by investment program in the world.
The Commonwealth of Dominica
is an independent English-speaking island state situated between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. It is a former British colony and a member of the British Commonwealth as well as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, Caricom and other international organizations.
Dominica boasts a beautiful, wide range of natural attractions. Due to the mountainous terrain, only about a quarter of the island is cultivated, but the very rich soil produces good domestic and export crops. Organic agriculture is being encouraged and has great economic potential.
is an island nation with an exotic topography, breathtaking beaches and a year-round temperate climate. It is often referred to as the “Island of Spice” because of its production of nutmeg and mace crops, of which it is the world’s largest exporter. Its quality of life and reputation scores are considerably lower than other countries on the GCPI, due to the country’s vulnerable economy and unemployment rate.
Grenadian citizenship does not offer as many visa-free travel privileges as other countries on the GCPI. Compliance standards and due diligence procedures are also substantially lower than those of other citizenship-by-investment programs.
In countries with citizenship by investment programs, there are frequently two real estate markets - the standard lifestyle market and the citizenship by investment market. International tourists will mainly purchase property as a second home, vacation home or retirement destination. Such buyers are predominantly from the US, Canada, the UK and other parts of Europe. The citizenship market on the other hand, is made up of individuals from almost every country in the world who are primarily investing to acquire a second citizenship and passport, and they are looking for citizenship approved property.
In short, the effects of globalization continue to expand and touch all aspects of our lives. People have become more interdependent and mobile than at any other time in human history. The principles of borders are changing and governments have found themselves having to face new challenges as the concepts of residence and citizenship continue to develop. International residence and citizenship planning has thus become an important focus for Global Citizens: mobile entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals and their families, who are interested in a more global lifestyle.
If you wish to know more about citizenship and residency programs globally for yourself or your clients, please contact our director, Alexandros Philippides at email@example.com
for a complimentary consultation.