Frequently Asked Questions
Investment migration is a form of legal migration used by over 80 sovereign states globally. Investment migration comprises various citizenship and residence by investment programs which allow individuals to gain citizenship or residence rights in return for investments in their host countries. These programs are often structured around entrepreneurship potential, Business, or Real Estate Investment.
An investor visa is a type of resident permit that can be obtained by making a financial investment in a country. Although this appears to be an easy task, there are common myths about investor visas. For starters, an investor visa is only available for certain forms of investments. Many people seem to think that making an investment in a country automatically qualifies them for an investor visa. This is not true. Usually, investor visas only come through investments in real estate or government bonds. For those who would rather start or invest in a local business, entrepreneur visas are available, but they’re typically not the same as conventional investor visas.
Second, investor visas and citizenship-by-investment programs are not the same thing. Citizenship-by-investment and investor visas are often grouped together since they both work under the same principle: You make a certain form of investment in a country in exchange for entry into that country. An investor visa, on the other hand, is a temporary resident permit in another country, while full citizenship-by-investment grants you a passport and unrestricted access to the country.
Take a look at Portugal’s Golden Visa to see the difference. Portugal’s program allows you to receive an investor visa or a resident permit. To become a citizen of Portugal, however, you must meet a completely different set of conditions.
Finally, you’ll need to satisfy other residency conditions in order to keep your investor visa, and these requirements vary greatly between countries. To renew your visa under Portugal’s Golden Visa program, for example, you only need to spend two weeks in the country each year. In contrast, to keep an EB-5 investor visa in the United States, you must spend the majority of your time in the country and pay U.S. taxes. even though you’re not a U.S. citizen, only an EB-5 visa holder. As a result, if you want to get an investor visa from a specific country, you should be aware of the residency and taxation requirements for that country, and how they can affect your finances and lifestyle.
Visas and passports are official documents that permit travel to and from a specific country. Visas, on the other hand, are typically used by foreigners seeking entry into a country, while passports are used by citizens of that country to travel abroad. A visa is, in essence, official authorization for a foreigner to visit a country for a particular reason and for a specific period of time. A popular form of visa is a tourist visa, which enables you to visit a country for leisure purposes, but not live or work there.
You will need to apply for a tourist visa to visit some countries, but depending on your citizenship, some countries may grant you a visa at the border or online in advance. Other countries won’t require a visa at all. Some visas, such as business visas, student visas and temporary work visas, are also available. Meanwhile, a passport is a government-issued travel document issued by your home country. Your passport gives you the freedom to leave and return to your home country. It also serves as your official identification when travelling abroad.
Let’s look at an example to better understand how this works. Assume you’re a resident of the United States visiting Mexico. When you arrive in Mexico, particularly at an airport, you present your U.S. passport to Mexican officials, who will stamp it and issue you a visa to enter the country. When you return to the United States, you re-enter using your U.S. passport. An easy way to note the difference between a visa and a passport is to just remember that passports are issued to citizens and visas are issued to non-citizens.
Benefits to Host Countries and Wider Society Host countries benefit not only from the establishment of new businesses and an inflow of highly skilled individuals, but also from meaningful financial contributions to society and culture. For many host countries, such as those in the Caribbean, investment migration is critical in funding key government activities such as disaster relief and social programs.
Everyone has their own reasons to invest in permanent residence or a second citizenship. People choose to invest in second residence to increase their worldwide mobility and benefit from high living standards and high level of education and healthcare. Ultra-high and high net worth individuals choose to acquire residence/citizenship by investment to protect their assets, provide better life for their families and benefit from 100% confidentiality and privacy offered by investment programs in most countries.
All the investments across the globe carry some inherent risk, so in a way, there are no guarantees on any investment. The safest investments like Government Treasury Bills or Bank Fixed Deposits also carry financial risk, but the risks are far lower compared to any equity investment.
Most investments offered as part of the residency or citizenship by investment program are real estate investments, and carry the associated risk of any real estate asset class in that specific country. However, RCG has an extensive suite of investment options, tirelessly researched, to ensure as much risk is mitigated as possible.
Depending on the country, the minimum number of days you need to stay in the country may be as low as 7 days to as high as 187 days in a calendar year.
Visa-free travel is when you are permitted to cross certain borders without a visa. Golden Visas and citizenship by investment can mean you are entitled to visa-free travel in specific areas. For example, having a European passport can grant you visa-free travel within the Schengen Zone.
The European Union’s Schengen Area also allows people to travel between countries without needing a passport. Anyone who has entered a Schengen country, such as Germany or Italy, can technically travel freely throughout the Schengen Area without using a passport because it is a unified customs zone.
Although EU citizens and residents benefit from passport-free travel in the Schengen Area, it also applies to non-residents to some degree. Non-residents, on the other hand, can legally fly within the Schengen Area without a visa, but they would need one to enter. Non-residents can also need a passport as proof of identity. If you’re buying a bottle of wine, your non-EU driver’s license will suffice, but you’ll almost certainly need it to exchange money or board a plane. As a result, while a missing passport does not ruin your trip to Europe, it’s probably a good idea to have one if you’re not a citizen of the EU.
Mercosur, a South American customs and free trade body, allows member citizens from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay to travel freely among those countries. A number of countries have bilateral agreements with their neighbors that allow people to fly back and forth without needing a passport. Turkey, for example, has agreements with a few countries that enable people to enter using only their national identification cards.
In short, though,we don’t recommend travelling without a passport in most situations, there are some exceptions. But it’s safe to presume that if you leave the country, you will need a passport.
I corrected the U.S. passport card example. It cannot be used for air travel anywhere, only land and sea.
The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is the process of acquiring fast track citizenship and passport by making investments. These investments can be in the form of donation or in real estate usually starts from $100,000. Family members also receive the citizenship perk. Although the CBI schemes have existed since 1980’s, the popularity picked up only after 2010, due to the rapid rise of globalization, tourism and more people wanting freedom of movement without visas.
A Golden Visa is a residency permit which is granted to individuals who invest in a residency-by-investment program. Investors are given a visa for a determined period of time, and can usually renew as long as they maintain their initial investment.
An e-visa is equivalent to a regular visa in most cases, but it can be obtained via a simpler online procedure. An e-visa, like a normal visa, gives you prior permission to visit a country. Obtaining an e-visa is usually simpler than obtaining a conventional visa, which can be a lengthy process. To obtain a standard visa, sometimes that requires a visit to your nearest consulate or embassy, completing all of your paperwork ahead of time and usually leaving your passport there while your application is being reviewed. An e-visa, on the other hand, can be obtained by logging into a country’s e-visa website, filling out paperwork, uploading documents, paying a fee and submitting an application.
Most people find e-visas to be simpler and more affordable than traditional visas, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally painless. Cambodia, for example, has a highly efficient e-visa method. You just need to upload a passport photo, fill out a simple online form, and pay a fee (roughly $40) to get one. The application should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete, and you will receive approval almost immediately.
India, on the other hand, is known for its ineffective e-visa application procedure. The Indian e-visa website is frustrating, and once you find the right form, sorting through all of the questions and uploads can take hours. You’ll probably have to start the process over if you lose a link or press the wrong button. As a result, while an e-visa can save you a trip to your local embassy, it does not guarantee that you will receive one quickly or easily.
Bear in mind that e-visas are not the same as online pre-approval applications like the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the United States. While these pre-approval applications have an online aspect, they usually require a significant amount of paperwork, so they aren’t true e-visa services.
You cannot enter Mexico without a passport unless you are a Mexican citizen or permanent resident. If you’re a Mexican citizen, you can legally re-enter the country without a passport. Certain airlines may refuse to fly you there without a passport, and if you make it to customs, you’ll likely have to spend several hours proving your identity and citizenship to immigration officials before being allowed to pass. You do, however, have the right to re-enter Mexico as a Mexican citizen, so you can return without a passport. Even if you are a Mexican citizen, you would most likely need to bring your passport with you while visiting Mexico. U.S. citizens crossing the border by land or sea can enter Mexico using a passport card rather than a standard passport book.
While rules vary from country to country, typically Residency (referring to Permanent Residency) gives rights to live, work, reside in a particular country. Residency usually does not include the rights of a citizen like voting, government jobs, government subsidies/loans/benefits. While as a citizen, one has all the rights as any normal citizen of that country has.
Yes it is; the entire process is confidential
Yes, some countries offer a “fast-track” option; however, additional fees may apply.
Many countries do not require you to relocate to obtain a residency permit. Portugal requires Golden Visa holders to spend seven days in the country each year, whereas Cyprus requires a visit once every two years.
There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled under all citizenship by investment programs, such as investing in one of the approved options or projects, passing due diligence checks, as well as a clean criminal record and good health.
Some countries have different residency and visitation requirements as well as the requirement as for how long the investment must be maintained before it can be recovered. Every CBI program offers citizenship to family members of the main applicant based on their eligibility and age, and these requirements vary from program to program.
The amount of time it takes to obtain citizenship depends on the country and the citizenship by investment program. In Cyprus and Malta, the process takes less than six months. In Portugal, investors can obtain citizenship in five years, and in Spain it takes around ten years. For obtaining citizenship in the Caribbean like Grenada or Saint Kitts and Nevis, you can get a second passport anywhere from three months onwards.
Obtaining a citizenship via a Citizenship by Investment program enjoys the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.
If you have a green card from the United States, you must pay U.S. taxes. Unfortunately, one of the most common myths from people attempting to relocate to the United States is that U.S. green card holders are exempt from paying taxes. They feel they are excluded from paying their taxes to the IRS because they are not U.S. citizens or have entered on an EB-5 investor visa. This is not the case at all. Green card holders are considered U.S. persons for tax purposes since they are permanent citizens of the United States, which even means they must pay taxes on all of their worldwide income like American citizens do.
Furthermore, in order to keep your green card, you must spend the majority of your time in the United States each year. As a result, while the IRS considers you a taxable individual simply because you are a permanent resident, the “substantial presence test” would also bring you into the U.S. tax net. If you spend more than 120 days in the United States each year, you will almost certainly be required to pay your taxes to the IRS. As a result, if you have a green card in the United States, you would have to deal with the IRS every year — no exceptions.
The short response is yes. Residents of the United States are permitted to hold citizenship in other nations. As a U.S. citizen, you can theoretically have as many passports as you want. If you have a second passport, however, you will find that some organizations handle you differently.
Depending on the circumstances and the credit score, certain creditors can be unable to lend to people who have dual nationality. If you require a government security clearance, your dual citizenship may also be a hindrance. Even if you just need a low-level clearance, your second nationality can cause a conflict of interest. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, found out that he was a Canadian citizen and had to renounce it in order to pursue his career. As a result, while no one is preventing you from obtaining a second passport as a U.S. citizen, your dual nationality can cause you to be treated differently in some situations.
Additionally, once in the United States, you will be regarded as a U.S. citizen. You must use your U.S. passport, not a second one, at all U.S. international border crossings, and you will not be able to use consular facilities from other countries while in the U.S. While dual citizenship is not prohibited in the United States, you should keep these issues in mind if you plan to get a second passport.
You will normally have triple citizenship unless you are a resident of a country that does not allow you to have multiple nationalities. Most countries are fairly liberal when it comes to dual citizenship, but you will need to renounce your other nationalities if you want to run for office or get a government security clearance.
The immigration policies of a country determine how you become a permanent resident. It is relatively simple to become a permanent resident in some countries. For example, a $5,200 bank deposit would allow you to become a permanent resident in Paraguay, and you won’t need to spend much time there to keep your permanent resident status. Some nations, such as the United States, make it more difficult to obtain and retain permanent residency. Obtaining a green card in the United States is notoriously difficult. Also, people of extraordinary talent and high-value investors must deal with a lot of red tape in order to obtain their green cards.
Then, in order to keep your green card, you must spend the majority of your time in the United States and file U.S. taxes every year. As a result, the path to permanent residency is determined by the nation and its policies. There are, however, a few common methods for obtaining permanent residency:
Investment: Many countries encourage you to become a permanent resident by making a financial investment. Although permanent residency might not be possible right away, any type of residency-by-investment would normally place you on the road to permanent residency.
Entrepreneurship: Starting a company in a country can also help you get on the path toward permanent residency. To be eligible for permanent residency, you will need to start a specific form of company.
Economic Stability: If you meet certain income criteria, you might be eligible for permanent residency in certain countries.
Work: After working in another country for a few years, you will normally be able to apply for permanent residency there.
Marriage or Relatives: If you have a citizen spouse or immediate family member, you could normally obtain temporary residency and then be processed for permanent residency.
The majority of people’s residency and tax residency would be the same. Most people don’t have to think about this because they live and work in the same country. It isn’t until you plan to make the best of your situation that you need to know the difference between the two. If you live in a country, you have complete freedom to come and go as you please. In certain nations, you’ll need to be a resident to purchase or rent property or even open a bank account. There are various conditions for how much time you must spend in that country each year to retain your residency status, but you must spend at least a few days in that country.
The benefit of getting a second home is that you still have a place to go. If you are a tax resident of a region, on the other hand, you are legally obliged to pay taxes there. The criteria for claiming tax residency differ significantly from those for maintaining residency in a country. When deciding your tax residency status, factors such as how much time you spend in the country, where your business is located, and where your income comes from all play a role. If you’re a citizen of the United States, though, you’re a tax resident of the United States regardless of where you live in the world.
Since banks and other institutions need to know where you pay taxes, tax residency is becoming increasingly necessary. International reporting standards and conventions, such as FACTA and the CRS, impose stringent enforcement conditions on banks. If they don’t know where your money comes from or what you’re doing with it, they may face significant legal issues that limit how they do business.
Here’s the bottom line: Separation of residency and tax residency can get complicated, but it’s possible to get the best of both worlds if you have the right planning and guidance.
How you obtain citizenship in another country, including permanent residency, is determined by the laws of that country and your personal circumstances. Some countries, such as Switzerland and Japan, make obtaining citizenship extremely difficult for foreigners. Others, such as Saint Lucia or Vanuatu, allow you to obtain a passport in less than a year if you invest enough. In general, you can obtain citizenship in another country in one of four ways:
Naturalization: To become a naturalized citizen, you must first relocate to a country, become a permanent resident, and then apply for citizenship after a period of time has passed. Some countries, on the other hand, will allow you to keep your permanent residency and apply for citizenship without having to live there full-time.
Descent: If you can prove that you have ancestors from that nation, you might be eligible to apply for citizenship. Most countries require you to have a citizen parent or grandparent, but some may encourage you to go back further in your genealogy.
Investment: Some countries provide citizenship in exchange for a certain amount of money invested. Citizenship-by-investment programs differ in terms of the form and amount of investment needed.
Quick-Track Naturalization: Countries can grant expedited naturalization to people who contribute to the country’s success. This could be a significant financial contribution or gift, or it could indicate exceptional talent or artistic abilities. This approach is often referred to as “exceptional citizenship.”
The response to this question is contingent on how you define “best.” Most passport rankings base their determination of the best passport in the world on the amount of visa-free travel the passport provides. For example, the Henley Passport Index may rank Japan as the best passport in the world while Arton Capital ranks the United Arab Emirates as the best. Although the formulas for calculating a country’s score vary, the ranking institutions depend on the same fundamental metric: visa-free travel.
This can be misconceiving, though. Not all visa-free travel is created equal.
For example, visa-free travel to Bangladesh isn’t as valuable as visa-free travel to the United States or China, but these rankings give them equal weight. Second, a passport is for more than visa-free travel. Citizenship comes with passports, and citizenship entails more than just travel privileges; you must also understand the problems that come with it. One must consider concerns such as credibility, taxes, personal rights and dual citizenship.
As you can see, the best passport in the world varies on how “best” is defined and described. The title of “best passport in the world” is completely arbitrary.
The cost of obtaining citizenship varies by region, as well as the method used to acquire citizenship. Naturalization is a relatively inexpensive method of obtaining citizenship in most countries. Currently, there are $725 in fees, as well as any extra legal fees you may have had, if you are a U.S. green card holder applying for naturalization. While that isn’t exactly pennies on the dollar, it’s still a good deal, particularly given that naturalization in the United States is one of the most expensive in the world.
Naturalization is significantly cheaper in many Latin American countries, such as Paraguay and Guatemala. If you’ve lived there for a few years, you can apply for citizenship with ease and only pay a small administrative fee. Obtaining citizenship by descent is also relatively inexpensive.
Citizenship by descent in Ireland is slightly more expensive, but at around $330 USD, it’s still within most people’s financial reach. Citizenship by naturalization or descent is thus relatively inexpensive, but other expenses must be considered, such as time obligations, establishing residency and collecting paperwork. Citizenship-by-investment, on the other hand, is significantly more costly. While you can obtain citizenship easily in this manner, you must be willing to spend a significant sum of money. In reality, the most affordable citizenship-by-investment programs cost about $100,000.
However, if you plan ahead, you can practically get citizenship-by-investment for free. In certain nations, you may gain citizenship by investing in real estate or specific sectors, and if you do so strategically, your investment returns can be sufficient to cover your legal and administrative costs. As a result, you can get paid to get a second passport, but you’ll need a significant amount of cash up front to do so.
This term blurs the line between passports and citizenship. Non-citizens can be issued passport-style travel documents in certain countries, but passports are only issued to citizens of that country. You can only get a U.S. passport and fly with it if you are a U.S. citizen. With that out of the way, the short and simple explanation is that certain countries technically “sell citizenship.”
Although that is a very obnoxious way of putting it, about a dozen countries currently offer simple citizenship-by-investment programs. Investors who make a contribution to the country or invest in real estate will get citizenship quickly and easily through some of these programs. These are the ones that are most likely to be branded as “passports for sale.”
There are also countries that will naturalize citizens who invest significantly in their country. Peter Thiel, for example, was able to obtain New Zealand citizenship by investing in real estate worth millions of dollars. But this isn’t quite “passports for sale,” since you normally have to follow other requirements.
Citizenship-by-Investment provides families with the privilege of acquiring an alternative citizenship, which in turn gives them the right to travel freely to various destinations and to settle in another country.
Residence-by-investment programs provide high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) with the option to live, work, study, and receive healthcare in a new country of residence.
Gaining the ability to change residence to another country is an increasingly important option for many of our private clients.