Dateline: Bogota, Colombia
Despite the increasingly hostile environment for high-net-worth individuals in much of the West, there are still countries around the world that value the contributions individuals like you can make to their economies. In fact, many of them have created programs that reward investors with immigration benefits.
These investment immigration programs provide an opportunity to obtain a second residence or even a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country.
One of the benefits of such investment immigration programs is that it allows you to get your citizenship faster than traditional immigration processes. They can also give you access to high-yield international investments such as real estate, bonds, and other assets on top of the immigration benefits that will give you the opportunity to travel visa-free to many countries – depending on the specifics of each program.
Moreover, by relocating, you can benefit from better tax management options, gain access to qualified and less expensive labor forces, be given entry to high-quality educational institutions for your children, and more.
Fortunately, most of these investment immigration programs allow you to bring your family members too.
There is a wide variety of investment immigration programs out there and not all programs are created equal. There are many factors you should take into account to determine which program is right for you based on your needs.
Not only should you consider the amount of investment required but also whether or not that investment will get you immediate citizenship versus a path to citizenship (or no path at all), access to certain countries, a place to call home, and much, much more.
We’ve discussed all this before on our second passports and second residence pages and we go into detail there about the various factors that you should take into account when considering what investment immigration program to pursue.
But today, we want to look at the premium programs – the most expensive investment immigration programs on the market – to analyze what they have to offer to ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
These programs are located in locations you could easily make your home without giving up the luxuries and the lifestyle that you prefer.
Some are residence by investment programs (RBI) that offer a path to citizenship via naturalization while others offer immediate citizenship by investment (CBI). But one thing is for sure: each of these premium investment immigration programs is worth your consideration.
13. Macedonia – Citizenship by Investment
Macedonia’s program for investment immigration is an interesting option as it’s one of the fastest programs to get citizenship and allows you travel benefits to all EU countries without all the extras that go with being a part of the EU.
To obtain citizenship in Macedonia you must invest €400,000 and employ 10 workers for at least one year. This may seem like a lot, but Macedonia is among the most business-friendly countries in Eastern Europe with a flat tax of 10% for companies and individuals and many great incentives for factories.
There is another option as well: A foreigner can obtain Macedonian citizenship by investing at least €200,000 of capital per person in a private investment fund over a period of at least two years.
The fund must have a minimum of €5,000,000 of initial capital before submitting the investment program to the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development. But this option will take longer and can be time-consuming.
12. Montenegro – Citizenship by Investment
There are so many beautiful places to live in Montenegro to enjoy a luxury lifestyle.
Best of all, Montenegro allows you to obtain citizenship by investing €450,000 in a development project in either the capital city of Podgorica or the Coastal Region of Montenegro.
You also have the option to invest €250,000 in a development project in the northern or central region of Montenegro, excluding the capital city of Podgorica.
For both options, you must also make a €100,000 donation to the escrow account for the development of underdeveloped local self-government units, bringing your total investment amount for Montenegrin citizenship to €350,000 and €550,000, depending on the investment region you select.
Montenegro is hoping to join the EU in 2025 which would then grant you access to visa-free travel around the region and also the ability to settle, work, and study in any European country. You would need to jump on the chance now though, as their CBI program is only open until the end of 2021.
For a more in-depth look at this investment immigration program in Montenegro, you can review our Ultimate Guide.
11. Portugal – Golden Visa Residence
Portugal offers a Golden Visa Program that will allow a foreigner to invest and obtain residence in the country.
Your Golden Visa residence permit will grant you visa-free travel and work privileges within the Schengen Area and many other countries around the world. Portugal only asks that you stay in the country for 7 days the first year and 14 days each two-year period after that.
The most common and cheaper investment option is to buy real estate worth at least €500,000, or €400,000 in so-called “low-density” areas.
If you would rather not go with the real estate option, the program allows for investing €1,000,000 in bank deposits, traded securities, or sovereign debt instruments as well.
In addition, investments of €350,000 in Portuguese companies, scientific research, or arts and cultural heritage for five years are also options.
Compare all the options, the latter is the cheapest, especially considering the time and effort required for finding real estate options and completing the necessary paperwork for securing the property.
You can learn more about Portugal’s Golden Visa here.
10. Spain – Golden Visa Residence
A foreigner can obtain residence in Spain by investing €500,000 in real estate or €1,000,000 in shares of Spanish companies or bank deposits. You can also obtain residence in Spain by investing €2,000,000 in government bonds.
Under this Golden Visa program, the investor and his/her family can obtain temporary residence. The initial residence card is granted for one year and is then renewable for two years and can be renewed for successive periods of five years after that. To renew, you will need to visit Spain at least once a year.
The process of applying and receiving residence is very straightforward and takes about two to three months to complete. The investor then gets the right to roam freely in the entire Schengen area.
After five years it is possible to obtain permanent residence if you’ve lived in the country for at least 183 days of each year. You can be granted citizenship after 10 years. It’s required to maintain your investment for five years, after which you can recoup much of the investment.
You can learn more about Spain’s Golden Visa here, including the pros and cons of this particular program.
9. Bulgaria – Residence and Citizenship
Bulgaria is another great but little known investment immigration program for both residence and citizenship by investment. You can check out our Ultimate Guide to Bulgarian CBI for all the details, but here are some of the general ideas:
This is an initial residence by investment program that will lead to Bulgarian citizenship. Bulgaria offers standard citizenship in six years if a person invests €512,000 in the following investment choices: shares of Bulgarian companies, Bulgarian State Bonds, fiduciary investment, or intellectual properties.
There is a fast-track option that will lead to citizenship in just two years for those who invest double that amount.
While it may not be your first place for citizenship, Bulgaria offers low corporate taxes, allows for visa-free travel to most European countries (and hopefully soon all of the Schengen region), and a low cost of living.
Bulgaria also has another option to decrease your investment amount and speed up your processing time by hiring 10 local workers.
8. Malta – Residence and Citizenship
In 2020, Malta released a newly updated citizenship by investment program. According to the amended guidelines, a person can obtain Maltese citizenship by making a donation to the government fund, donating €10,000 to an approved non-profit, and renting or investing in Maltese real estate.
The donation amount varies from €600,000 to €750,000, with the smaller donation qualifying you for a three-year timeline to citizenship and the higher one reducing that timeline to one year.
The higher investment amount may be worth it for you as Malta is now the only citizenship by investment program in the EU and provides the 8th strongest passport in the world, offering visa-free travel to 184 countries, including the United States.
For a more in-depth look at this program, you can check out our Ultimate Guide to Malta CBI.
Malta also offers a residence by investment program that will lead to citizenship in six years’ time for a much lower investment in real estate. You can learn more about the details of that investment immigration program here.
7. USA – Residence by Investment
While obviously not my top choice for residence permits, the US does have the EB-5 Visa (Green Card) that grants permanent residence to foreigners. The US offers a great quality of life, endless economic opportunities, and, once you have your residence permit, some of the best travel perks in the world.
This visa can be obtained by investing $900,000 in a TEA (Targeted Employment Area). These are usually rural areas or an area experiencing high unemployment. If you choose to invest in areas outside of designated TEAs, you must invest $1.8 million dollars to qualify.
For more specific information on the expensive and highly bureaucratic process to obtain the EB-5 Visa in the US, check out our Ultimate Guide.
6. Guernsey – Residence by Investment
Next door to Jersey in the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, lies Guernsey. It is a great alternative to the UK Tier 1 visa. For half the price, you can get residence in Guernsey and still get most of the benefits of being a resident in the United Kingdom.
For investment immigration, they offer two options.
The first is an investor visa where you can invest £1,000,000 ‘for the benefit of the Bailiwick of Guernsey’ by making a deposit in a bank, purchasing an ‘open market’ (think more expensive) property, or investing in another approved financial asset, as announced, ad hoc, by the States of Guernsey.
In addition to the investment, you must also have considerable wealth – a minimum of £1 million liquid, which equates to approximately $1.2 million USD.
The second option is an entrepreneur visa. This will take a smaller investment upfront – £200,000 or approximately $255,000 – but will require more effort and involvement on your part.
In order to qualify, you must start a company that will create jobs and benefit the local economy. Alternatively, you can invest in an existing company, but you’ll need to have a full-time and active role in managing it yourself.
For both options, you can bring your spouse and children under 18. It is important to note, however, that with these options Guernsey is quite selective in who they let in due to their population management efforts. You must also plan to settle in Guernsey for at least 10 months of the year.
After five years, you can apply for permanent residency, and after another year, for citizenship. Due to their strong connection to the UK, this can be a great passport to have. In most cases, it is accepted as the same thing.
For more details on this investment immigration program, check out our Guernsey Permanent Residence by Investment Guide.
5 . Ireland – Golden Visa Residence
Ireland earns its spot in the top five most expensive premium residence by investment programs with its Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the IIP or the Ireland Golden Visa.
Through this program, a foreigner can invest in an existing Irish enterprise, a new company, or an investment fund to qualify for residence. In these cases, you’ll need to prove that you have a net worth of at least €2,000,000 and invest €1,000,000 in one of the above-mentioned options.
If you want to make a real estate investment instead, you must invest a minimum of €2,000,000 in real estate investment trusts.
There is, however, a less expensive option via the IIP – you can invest at least €500,000 in a project which is of public benefit to the arts, athletics, health, culture, or education in Ireland.
Whatever investment route you select, the program allows you to obtain initial immigration permission for two years, which can then be renewed for another three years. You can find more information about the Ireland Golden Visa in our Ultimate Guide.
4. The Cayman Islands – Residence by Investment
Beyond the beautiful scenery, tax-friendly policies, and excellent quality of life, the Cayman Islands offers several premium options for investment immigration.
The first is as a person with independent means. This residency permit will last for 25 years and allows you to bring your family, but comes with the price tag of investing $1.2 million in the country while maintaining a bank account of $500,000 and having an independent income of at least $150,000 a year from places outside of the islands – not to mention the several fees you will pay each year to renew.
The second option is through a certificate of direct investment. This option will also provide you a 25-year residency permit and allow you to bring your family. You will be required to invest $1.2 million in a business that creates jobs and hires at least 30% local workers. You must also live in the country for at least 90 days a year.
A third option is by having a substantial business presence in the country. To qualify, you must prove you are in a senior management position or own at least 10% of the shares in a business in an approved industry – mainly financial and legal services.
You must intend to live on the island for at least 90 days a year and will be required to pay several fees each year, but it also comes with a 25-year residency permit and the ability to work from the islands.
For more details on each of these options as well as opportunities for permanent residency and citizenship, look at our article on Cayman Island Residency.
3. Singapore – Residency by Investment
As more Singapore natives call for changes to the country’s immigration laws, obtaining residence by investment has become increasingly difficult and expensive.
Singapore now requires not only proof of business experience but also evidence that you have a stake in a company making as high as $50 million a year in revenue to qualify for the permit.
Singapore’s Global Investor Program offers three main options of investment: investment in a business, funds, or a Singapore-based family office. For all three options, the required amount of investment is S$2.5 million, which equals approximately US$1,869,087.
The program does grant permanent residence to investors. It should be noted, however, that the business costs and corporate taxes are quite high in Singapore, as well as the cost of living. And Singapore does not offer dual citizenship, which is certainly a factor any Nomad Capitalist should seriously consider.
For more details on how to get this permanent residence in Singapore, click here.
2. Jersey – Residence by Investment
A small island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, Jersey offers a unique and premium program for investment immigration.
It is an independent country with its own constitution but maintains strong British connections. Jersey offers an extremely high standard of living, global connections, a solid economy, no or low taxes, as well as easy access to the UK and Ireland.
It is a quiet and beautiful tourist destination, but also a leading offshore financial center, making it easy to mix business and pleasure.
Jersey offers a High-Value Residency Regime through purchasing real estate valued at £1,750,000 or more and having an annual income of no less than £725,000 (just over $1 million).
In addition to the financial requirements, in Jersey, each application is at the discretion of the government officials and a lot of their decision is based on subjective criteria such as voluntary work, media coverage of your business or social life, your awards and achievements, cultural interests or skills, and a clean criminal record.
That said, it’s one of the fastest countries to process your application and your family is able to come along under the same investment sum.
Another benefit is that you can obtain a Jersey passport after six years of residence on the island and it will be as if you have a British passport due to Jersey’s unique relationship with the UK. You will have access to over 170 countries visa-free, making it one powerful passport.
For all the details on how to make the investment, check out our Ultimate Guide for Jersey.
1. The United Kingdom – Residence by Investment
Based on the research, the most expensive immigration program out there is for the UK. The UK Investor Immigration Program offers a route for investors and their families to obtain temporary residence in the UK and start the journey towards British citizenship.
The UK is one of the freest, richest, and most stable countries in the world with a fantastic passport that’s ranked 6th in the world in terms of its travel power.
Being such a desirable citizenship to obtain, this program requires a substantial investment of £2,000,000 or more in an active UK business.
After Brexit, the UK has shifted from allowing workers from all over the EU to come to their country to seeking wealthy investors, innovative entrepreneurs, and highly skilled workers. They want people like you – ultra-high-neth worth individuals and 7- and 8-figure entrepreneurs.
With greater investments of £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 you can even speed up the citizenship process.
For more details on how to obtain a UK Tier 1 Visa, check out our Ultimate Guide.