Citizenship by Investment

April 17th, 2015   •   no comments   

European Citizenship and Passport

Citizenship and a European passport are often key objectives for many of our clients when considering the various European investor visa programmes.

It is important for any prospective investors to take careful professional advice on the programmes available before committing to an investment. There are many programmes on the market from differing countries, but not all of these lead to citizenship through investment.

The likes of Hungary, Greece and Spain are difficult or unlikely, sometimes requiring residence in the country. Portugal is far easier and Cyprus can be gained immediately with the right investment.

So what is citizenship and what benefits does it bring? Citizenship of any particular country within the European Union means a passport and importantly citizenship of the EU. So for example, if you gain citizenship in Portugal through real estate investment then you become an EU citizen. Similarly if you gain citizenship in Bulgaria through investment in government bonds you can also gain citizenship of the EU even though Bulgaria is outside the Euro and Schengen visa zone.

Every person holding the nationality of an EU country is automatically a citizen of the EU. This allows that person to move freely within the EU. To work, study and live wherever they wish within the European Union countries.

It is important to draw the distinction between the EU countries (there are 28) and the Schengen visa countries (there are 26). There are 22 EU countries participating in the Schengen visa zone and there are an additional 4 countries not part of the EU.

Residency in the Schengen visa countries allows freedom of travel throughout the Schengen area. But citizenship of an EU country provides the right to live and work within the EU countries. For example the United Kingdom and Ireland are EU countries, but not part of the Schengen visa zone.

Hence gaining citizenship in say, Cyprus or Portugal will allow the holder of that citizenship to live in the UK or Ireland.

Whichever country an investor targets for citizenship, there are sometimes faster, cheaper and easier options to gain permanent residency allowing them to live, work and study in that country by gaining entry through an alternative EU country.

Summary of Programmes in Europe

Citizenship by Investment Spain

It is possible to achieve citizenship through investment in real estate in Spain but the investor will need to live in Spain for 10 years before applying.

Citizenship by Investment Portugal

Citizenship can be applied for in Portugal six years after investment of a minimum €500,000 in real estate.

Citizenship by Investment Cyprus

Citizenship is available in Cyprus within 2 – 3 months on investing a minimum €2.5 million in real estate.

Citizenship by Investment Malta

Malta has an investment visa programme with a comination of investment and contribution totalling around €1.2 million with citizenship taking approximately 12 months.

Citizenship by Investment Greece

Citizenship in Greece through its real estate investment programme will be possible following changes to legislation (2015).

Citizenship by Investment Hungary

Changes to legislation in Hungary mean the investor visa bond programme could lead to citizenship after 5 years rather than the current 8 years. (2015)

Citizenship by Investment Bulgaria

The investment bond programme in Bulgaria can lead to fast track citizenship by doubling the bond investment from €512,000 to €1,024,000.

 

For reference the EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

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