Every country tries to attract High Net Worth investors to benefit their economy and if you study the laws or constitution of most countries you will find the head of government (President/Prime Minister) has the right to give any individual citizenship of their country under ‘public or economic benefit’ rules, basically for a large investment.
The question is : why would someone seek a second citizenship or passport? The most obvious reason is an individuals concerns over the political or economic outlook in their home country.Unfortunately not all countries provide their citizens with a safe and stable environment in which to live there lives. In fact, if you start thinking of all the countries that have had some kind of civil unrest, riots or even war over the last 20 years it becomes a fairly significant list. If you had sizable wealth, would you not consider taking your family to a more stable location if you could, or at least have the option to do so! Having a the right to reside in another country as a citizen or resident could literally be a life saver.
Punitive changes in Fiscal policy within a country is also a common reason for wealthy individuals to seek a second citizenship. Why would you stay in a country where over 50% of your income was paid in taxes. Then with the 50% you keep you have to pay VAT and other excessive taxes (alcohol, petrol) every time you buy something. Then when you pass on from this world your government takes half of everything you have worked so hard to leave to your family in Estate Duty/Inheritance Tax.
A second citizenship in a low tax jurisdiction can be an invaluable tax planning tool and for the very wealthy it could pay for itself almost immediately in tax savings.
Visa free travel and being able to avoid immigration controls can also be a big benefit of having a second residency or citizenship. You would be surprised how difficult it is for the majority of the world citizens to travel internationally. If you are holding the wrong passport then you are literally not welcome to visit many countries or the visa requirements are so severe that its impossible for most people to qualify. A case in point, I have a very good friend who is an extremely wealthy Indonesian businessman. He purchases millions of dollars of goods from large Australian and European companies but when he flies to meet the company executives to negotiate the price of the goods he must ask for a letter of invitation, assumption of responsibility letters, perosnal bonds and guarantees and various other help with his Visa and feels he is already in a compromised position before the negotiations start.
What to Consider?
If you have decided that a second or new citizenship makes sense for you then there are various things to consider before making a decision, although the choice of country is rather limited as you will see below. The key criteria are
● The size of the investment required to qualify for citizenship or a residency permit
● The time it takes to process the application
● The amount of time you must spend in your newly acquired second home
● Whether your new country allows Dual citizenship (or you may be forced to relinquish your existing citizenship)
● Whether your family can also become citizens and how long that takes to process
● What new tax regime will be inforced by your adopted country
● Will you or your family be required to do Military Service
Countries That Offer Citizenship By Investment
As stated above, most countries have laws that allow very large investors to acquire citizenship but this is not something that is promoted and is normally rarely used. In terms of countries that have a clear and legitimate immediate citizenship program our company has only worked with four countries being Austria, Cyprus, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis. Detailed information about each countries program can be found on our website http://www.whichcitizenship.com but a summary would be as follows:
Investment Amount : EURO3m donation or EURO10m investment
Time to process : Approximately 1 year
Investment Amount : EURO10m in Cyprus assets or EURO15m in cash deposits
Time to process : Approximately 6 months
Investment Amount : USD100,000 donation for an individual or USD200,000 donation for a family
Time to process : Approximately 2 months
St Kitts and Nevis
Investment Amount : USD250,000 to USD450,000 donation depending on family size or USD400,000 invested in real estate with up to USD100,000 application fee
Time to process : Approximately 3 – 6 months
The application procedures tend to be fairly complex and will vary by country but in all cases an applicant must not have a criminal record.
Our company is able to provide discrete and professional advice to any serious investors looking at an alternative citizenship program and we have built up a vast network or lawyers, bankers and other professional advisors to ensure that all the options are considered before an application is made. Our senior management team will also accompany any individual to their new country should they be required to visit as part of the application process. For more information please visit our website http://www.whichcitizenship.com
By Phil James
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