As countries start re-emerging from their cocooned state, the desire for travel and movement amongst many has naturally been reignited. Indeed, if these past two years have collectively taught us anything, it is the power of mobility.
As a result, it is no wonder that those who are looking for the power of choice are looking into additional passports to expand their mobility.
While Japan and Singapore have consistently ranked amongst the top passports that allow the most mobility for their holders, obtaining citizenship in these countries is considered a difficult and often onerous path for the applicant.
Instead, many individuals wish for an alternative citizenship route that is faster and less onerous, essentially, one that would grant them a passport with visa-free access to a sizeable number (110+) of countries, within a relatively short amount of time, and less or no requirements of language, age, or residency.
As a leading international law firm specializing in residency and citizenship-by-investment programs, we at Harvey Law Group have over 30 years of experience advising our clients on their options for securing residency or citizenship abroad. Below are a few alternative options that we propose to our prospective clients seeking a fast and powerful secondary passport, with a number next to each country corresponding to the number of countries that passport holder can access visa-free or with a visa-upon-arrival.
A. Caribbean citizenship-by-investment
As a collective, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, St Lucia, and Dominica, in the Caribbean offer an attractive citizenship opportunity to their country through a citizenship-by-investment program.
Citizenship can be obtained based on a donation or real estate investments. These programs allow an applicant and qualifying family members to become citizens of the country in return for making a qualifying local investment. The donation option usually attracts those intending to obtain an additional passport as soon as practicable and who wish to spend only minimal time (if any at all) in the country. The real estate option is usually attractive to those who may consider spending some time in the country, or who are willing to stretch the process by a few weeks or months to invest locally and reap potential benefits of future property market growth. The real estate option normally requires a greater investment amount at the onset and is subject to restrictions on resale (such as a 3 to 5 years holding period). Trusted lawyers will be able to advise on the most suitable options, starting from around USD 100,000 for the donation option.
These citizenship-by-investment programs are renowned, efficient, and simple. There is generally no language or residency requirement, and all 5 programs provide extensive tax benefits, including no personal income or corporate tax, capital gains tax, estate, wealth, or gift tax.
Vanuatu, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is also often considered by individuals looking for a renowned, efficient, and simple way to acquire an additional citizenship through a donation. In many ways, it presents advantages similar to those offered by the Caribbean countries' programs and can be processed within a month or two.
Below is the list of countries in descending order of mobility, as measured by the number of countries a passport holder can access visa-free or with a visa-upon-arrival:
B. Europe citizenship-by-investment
Both programs result in a temporary residency permit that can then be converted into permanent residency or citizenship after 5 years. Both an Irish passport and a Portuguese passport afford the holder visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 166 countries.
A Portugal Golden Visa puts investors on the path to citizenship after 5 years, provided they spend at least 7 days per year in Portugal. The investment required for a Portugal Golden Visa starts from EUR 280,000 for a property investment.
The Ireland IIP is available to individuals able to demonstrate a net worth of at least EUR 2 million and provide an investment of at least EUR 1 million (or EUR 400,000 in the case of a donation) in Irish funds or enterprises for at least 3 years. Citizenship will only be available once the physical residence requirement (at least 5 years) has been met. Nevertheless, investors that do not meet the physical residence requirement will simply be able to maintain permanent residency status by spending 1 day in Ireland per year until they decide to settle in Ireland and embark on the citizenship path.
Countries offering citizenship-by-investment programs in Europe include Montenegro and Turkey. Investors may be looking at these countries as a platform towards USA E2 Visas, or betting on the future potential of the country. Both Montenegro and Turkey citizenship-by-investment programs do not require any language, education, or management requirements. A Montenegrin passport affords the holder visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 123 countries while a Turkish passport holder affords the holder the same to 117 countries.
Montenegro requires a financial commitment of at least EUR450,000 (inclusive of a donation of EUR 200,000); while Turkey requires a qualifying investment of USD 400,000 or Turkish Lira equivalent in real estate property and held for at least 3 years.
The present article only touches upon some of the options available, but there are plenty more. Trusted lawyers will be able to advise the options most suitable to your circumstances and goals.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.