In today’s ever-changing world, a backup plan is always a good idea. A second passport can enhance your family’s personal freedom and provide an international lifestyle. It can also provide stability, mobility, and visa-free travel opportunities that your native citizenship does not. Perhaps most importantly, a second citizenship is a failsafe route to security when you need it most.
At Get Italian Citizenship, we specialize in helping people obtain Italian citizenship by descent. But what if a person wants—or needs—European citizenship and does not have Italian heritage? In such a circumstance, European citizenship by investment just may be the right option. Those seeking European citizenship but whose ancestry does not qualify them for a heritage-based options may find this path useful.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best European residency- and citizenship by investment programs. Here is a quick overview.
Citizenship by investment: a general overview
In 1984, Saint Kitts & Nevis launched the world’s first citizenship by investment program, ushering in what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Over time, scores of other countries seeking to attract foreigners to invest and contribute to their economies have followed suit. While most countries offering citizenship by investment can be found in the Caribbean, there are two European nations who participate: Bulgaria and Malta.
Obtaining a second citizenship can provide a safe harbor when times get rough, and a backup plan in the face of danger. Dual citizenship provides an unparalleled level of protection against political and humanitarian crises, economic turmoil, and even war in one’s home country. What’s more, most dual citizenships can be passed down to children and grandchildren as a generational legacy.
Why European citizenship by investment?
Beyond the above reasons, Europe has an edge over the competition in terms of citizenship by investment: quality of life. Those holding citizenship in a European Union country can avail themselves of long-lasting benefits both for themselves and their families. For instance, they may live, work, study, and do business in any one of the 27 EU member states. They may also enjoy affordable, world class education and health care.
Generally, there are two ways to obtain citizenship by investment in Europe: applying for it straight away in Bulgaria or Malta or participating in a Golden Visa program, becoming a resident of your chosen country for the required period of time, and then becoming a citizen.
Bulgarian citizenship by investment
As stated above, Bulgaria (together with Malta) is one of only two EU nations offering fast-track citizenship by investment. While both require a pre-citizenship period of residency, these fast-track programs provide some of the quickest routes to citizenship in any EU country. Clients may be eligible to apply for naturalization after just one year of residency.
Under the auspices of the Bulgarian citizenship and residency program, applicants must purchase 512,000 euros worth of government bonds. They are eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years. Those wishing to fast-track their citizenship may purchase an additional 512,000 euros worth of government bonds after the first year and then immediately apply for citizenship. Financing options are available for the fast-track route.
Maltese citizenship by investment
The Maltese citizenship by investment program requires a contribution to the government of 600,000 euros for the main applicant and 50,000 euros per dependent. Investors are able to apply for citizenship after 3 years of residency.
Like Bulgaria, Malta also offers a fast-track path to citizenship. Those seeking Maltese citizenship by investment in just 1 year must increase their government contribution to 700,000 euros plus the requisite 50,000 euros per dependent. Additionally, applicants must either purchase a property valued at 700,000 euros or rent an apartment for 18,000 euros per year.
A path to European residency and then citizenship: the Golden Visa
Many European countries participate in the Golden Visa program, which allows applicants to gain in-country residency and then after a certain number of years, gain citizenship. These options are popular throughout Europe, with Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, and Greece all participating. The Golden Visa program is a good entry into the citizenship by investment path, as initial financial outlays can be lower than compared with opting for citizenship by investment right away.
Out of all Golden Visa programs, Latvia’s is consistently ranked the most cost-effective. Its capital shareholder investment route is popular; clients purchasing shares of a Latvian company to the value of 50,000 euros along with a 10,000 euro contribution to the state may apply for residency. For those interested, Lincoln Global Partners has a unique investment opportunity with a Latvian company offering both annual returns and guaranteed buyback.
Maltese Permanent Residence Program
Those seeking residency in Malta may find this option to be cost-effective. Investors may either rent a home in Malta for 12,000 euros per year (10,000 euros if the property is located in Gozo or in southern Malta) and making a non-refundable contribution to the government of 98,000 or purchasing a property for 350,000 euros and contributing 68,000 euros to the government. In both cases, applicants must also donate 2,000 euros to a local NGO.
From European residency to citizenship via the Golden Visa program
All Golden Visa programs have their own rules and regulations. Typically, Golden Visas allow investors the freedom to come and go as they please. However, each country sets their own minimal presence threshold for all investors.
Out of all Golden Visa programs, Portugal offers the quickest and easiest path to citizenship. To become Portuguese citizens, investors need only spend 7 days a year in Portugal for a period of 5 years. They must also demonstrate Portuguese proficiency, although the level required is basic.
Greek residents may apply for citizenship after 8 years, while in Cyprus, Malta, and Latvia, investors must wait 10 years. Spain also requires a 10 year period of residency. This wait time is shortened to 2 years for individuals from countries previously ruled by the Spanish empire.