There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the entire world, causing a huge crisis in the global economy and making almost every aspect of human lives completely different. With a pending lockdown, unprecedented borders’ closures, and travel restrictions, our mobility that we used to take for granted has become severely curtailed, which has forced a lot of people to think about their Plan B.
As a result, the demand for citizenship and residency by investment programs has skyrocketed. Among the benefits that a second passport or residency permit of some of the most sought after countries offers there is not only the opportunity to travel visa-free to numerous countries, such as the UK, Schengen, Hong Kong and the majority of others, even in the situation of closed borders, but also access to better healthcare and education, favourable conditions for business, tax incentives, and many others.
During the pandemic, a range of countries running economic citizenship and residency programs have significantly lowered prices and offered more flexible terms in order to attract more investors. For instance, last summer St Lucia introduced a new investment option named “COVID-19 Relief Bond” (a refundable non-interest-bearing government bonds’ investment), halving the minimum investment threshold, thus making it $250,000. After the 5-year holding period expires, the entire investment amount is returned to the investor. Another example is St Kitts and Nevis offering a reduced donation of $150,000 for a family of up to four people, which is the same as for a single applicant. Dominica does not lag behind either: it also cut down the donation amount to $175,000 for families of four.These advantageous conditions have sparkled interest of potential investors seeking to obtain a beneficial Caribbean passport.
For those who would like to live and work within the European Union, such countries as Malta and Portugal are increasingly popular. With a brand-new Maltese citizenship by investment program, it has been possible to become a full-fledged citizen of Malta and therefore the EU after only a year of residence. The investment minimum starts from €700,000 (if citizenship is granted after 3 years). As for Portugal, its Golden Visa program is regarded as probably the best residency by investment program worldwide and is much favoured due to its multiple benefits. It does not require living in Portugal permanently while enables applicants to obtain European citizenship in already 5 years. The minimum amount for investment ranges from €250,000to €280,000 depending of the chosen option. Since the Portuguese government is restricting the real estate option from 2022, prohibiting the purchase of residential properties in major cities, Lisbon and Porto, and coastal areas under the Golden Visa, this has prompted investors to buy properties in the urban centres and by the seaside before 2021 is over. Besides, in 2022 the amounts for other investment options of the Golden Visa program are almost doubling, so many are catching the chance to become Portuguese residents at the current lowered prices.
Lately, Turkey has been gaining popularity among investors, as it provides one of the fastest and simplest routes to secure a second passport. The Turkish citizenship by investment program is very cost-effective, with investment thresholds starting from $250,000, ensures quick application processing (3–4 months), and makes applicants eligible for US E-2 Visa, which allows relocation to the United States. Economic citizenship of Vanuatu is even faster to acquire, granting investors second passports in around 2 months, and has a wide appeal due to the advantages it offers.
The overwhelmingly successful Golden Passport program of Cyprus was terminated last year and is not to be replaced; however, the Montenegrin citizenship by investment program can be seen as a good alternative to that. Joining the EU in 2025, Montenegro will be able to grant strong European citizenship with all the perks that go with it. The program offers a minimum investment of €350,000 and is scheduled to operate only until the end of 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of a second passport or at least a residence permit by investment. Providing economic and social stability, citizenship and residency by investment is an insurance policy against turbulences and uncertainties of the rapidly changing world.
GLS Private Office offers citizenship and residency by investment solutions around the world (5 countries in the Caribbean- St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda), Vanuatu, in Europe (UK, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Montenegro), and Turkey. We also offer tailored ancillary services depending on the clients’ goals.
By Victoria Vella, Managing Director, GLS Private Office