Citizenship by Investment is a process whereby wealthy individuals can obtain a second Citizenship extremely quickly in exchange for an investment or donation. These so-called “economic citizenships” are largely valuable to three types of people:
US citizens who wish to quickly renounce their citizenship. Pragmatically, renunciation requires a second passport, and if you’re a high-earner, the cost of an economic citizenship might be far less than the tax and compliance costs of remaining American, particularly as tax laws have recently become even worse for business owners overseas.
Emerging world citizens losing opportunities. Chinese and Arab citizens are the largest investors in citizenship by investment programs. The wealthy in these and other countries can afford the cost in exchange for the greatly increased travel benefits.
Business owners and investors looking for a “Plan B”. While US citizens have the most immediate need for a second passport and can often earn an immediate ROI, other country’s citizens can also benefit from having another citizenship in their back pocket… just in case. This is especially true for cryptocurrency investors who may need a second passport to continue their investments. If you’re earning high six- or seven-figures, you may find buying citizenship easier than the longer, more elusive naturalization route.
There are also nationalities that are restricted from doing business in certain countries and would benefit from a quick passport for business opportunities. Israelis, who are banned from about a dozen countries, are an example of this.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union and, until recently, offered the fastest naturalization I’ve ever heard of: just 57 days. I visited Cyprus a while ago and published a video discussing citizenship programs in Cyprus. You can explore various citizenship programs in Cyprus.
There are constant rumblings that the process will start to take longer though, particularly as the EU cracks down. Cyprus’ saving grace so far has been that while it enjoys visa-free travel to all of Europe, it is not actually a part of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area.
You can obtain Cyprus citizenship with an investment of €2 million in real estate, government bonds, a bank deposit in a Cyprus bank, or investment in a new company; this amount was most recently reduced in late 2016.
Cyprus citizenship was always pricier than other options – at one point costing well into the eight figures – but unlike most other programs, you can invest rather than donate. If the return of your capital is important, Cyprus may be more attractive than the only other EU citizenship program in Malta.
There’s a bit of a catch, though: you must own a €500,000 home in Cyprus forever. The requirement to maintain a residence on the island is likely a hat-tip to foreign government demands for investors to maintain a “real presence” on the island rather than simply buying a Cypriot passport. It’s not entirely clear what would happen if you sold your property, but the law is indeed clear at least on paper.
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