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Citizenship And Residency By Investment

Internationally mobile investors and entrepreneurs are often keen to gain the advantages of permanent residence or citizenship in a second country.  Investor Visas or Golden Visas as they are commonly known can facilitate residence or citizenship if you meet the requirements for that country.

Residence through investment

There are a number of countries around the world where an investment in the country can provide the opportunity to gain the right to residence in return for investment.  The terms vary as do the benefits.  For some there is minimal residence requirements whereas for others they offer the opportunity to emigrate permanently.  The attractions of each will vary according to the applicants objectives.


There are a number of countries in Europe where you can obtain permanent residence with limited or no requirements to spend time in the country:

  • Cyprus – residency is available through a €300,000 investment in real estate with the residence visa granted to the applicant, their spouse and dependent children under 25 after two months.
  • Greece – a five year residence visa is granted in return for an investment in real estate of €250,000 (plus taxes). The visa can be renewed every five years and children up to 21 are included.
  • Portugal – residency can be obtained through an investment of €500,000 in real estate. The visa can be renewed every two years provided the applicant spends two weeks in Portugal in every two years.  Permanent residency can be applied for after five years and citizenship after six years without any residence requirements.
  • Spain – residency can be obtained through an investment of €500,000 in real estate. Citizenship can be applied for after ten years residence in the country.

Portugal has proved the most popular scheme in Europe and Cyprus is the fastest option.



Australia has the Business Innovation and Investment Programme for those looking to use investment to gain permanent residence.  There are four streams:

  • Business Innovation stream – those wanting to set up a new business or invest in and manage an existing business whop have the relevant business skills.
  • Investor stream – those able to make a designated investment of at least AUD 1.5 million in a state or territory in Australia. State or territory governments must nominate applicants.
  • Significant Investor stream – those able to make an investment of at least AUD 5 million in complying significant investments in Australia. Austrade nominate applicants on behalf of the Australian government or applicants can be nominated by a state r territory government.
  • Premium Investor Stream – applicants must invest AUD 15 million into complying premium investments
  • Entrepreneur stream – you need to be undertaking a complying entrepreneurial activity. You must receive at least AUD200,000 from a state or federal government or from a designated venture capital fund.

See more detail in the article Visa Requirements to enter Australia.


New Zealand

There are options to obtain a visa if you want to invest or set up a business in New Zealand. There are three main options:

  • Investor Visas

You can qualify for an investor visa by investing in New Zealand:

If you plan to set up or buy a business an entrepreneur visa allows you to obtain a visa.  The normal route is start with an Entrepreneur Work Visa, which allows you to move to New Zealand and buy or establish a business. After either six months or two years you can then apply for an Entrepreneur Residence Visa.

  • Global Impact Visas

The Global Impact Visa is a visa that works with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) to find a limited number of entrepreneurs and investors addressing issues of global concern.  You need to qualify for and join the EHF to obtain this visa.

More detail available in the article Visa Option for New Zealand.



There are different options for entrepreneurs wanting to move to America depending on the circumstances and whether you are wanting to move there temporarily or permanently and how much you are able to invest.

  • E-2 Investor VisaThe E-2 Investor Visa requires a substantial investment in a business in the US. Substantial is not defined but should be proportional, ie represent a high proportion of the investment required or substantial in its own right. Within six to eight weeks the visa allows the holder to establish a business in the US.  Investment can be in a start-up in the US or can be by buying a majority interest in an existing business or franchise.
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor ProgramThe EB-5 gives entrepreneurs (as well as their spouses and unmarried children under 21) a green card (permanent residence).  In order to qualify:
    • Make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the US; and
    • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.

The amount to be invested is currently at least $1million (or $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area).

See more detail in the article Investor Visas in the US



The Canadian Immigrant Investor Program offers permanent residence to investors and their immediate family.  There is a Federal Immigrant Investor Program and a Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, but the Federal program is currently closed to applicants.  The Quebec program will accept applicants from September 2018.

To qualify applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • You must have proper business experience, ie must have managed a qualified business for at least two of the five years preceding the application.
  • You must have a personal net worth of CAD2 million (legally obtained).
  • You and your family must Canada’s medical and security assessments.
  • You must make a non-refundable payment of CAD300,000 to CAD350,000 or invest CAD 1,200,000 for five years interest-free under one of the government-guaranteed Immigrant Investor Programs.


Hong Kong

The Business Investment visa requires that a business vehicle is created that will create local jobs, use local vendors and benefit the Hong Kong economy.



The MM2H Program gives applicants a 10-year multiple-entry visa.

To qualify applicants must have at least MYR500,000 (MYR350,000 if the applicant is over 50) and income of MYR10,000 a month.  Once the application is approved the applicant must open a bank account with at least MYR300,000 (MYR150,000 if over 50).


Citizenship by Investment

In a number of countries you can obtain citizenship by investment by a payment to the government or by property investment.  This can be a route to gaining a second passport without having to spend a long qualifying period of residence.  There are other countries with options that give citizenship after a reasonable period of residence, including Australia, Canada, Portugal, Singapore, the UK and the US.


The European schemes give you citizenship in that country and as they are members of the EU successful applicants gain the right to live, travel, work and study in any country in the EU.

  • Cyprus – an investment of $2 million in real estate qualifies you for citizenship after two months
  • Malta – The Malta Individual Investor Programme requires a combination of a contribution to the Malta government, an investment in stocks/bonds and a purchase or rental of property in Malta. Overall an investment of around €800,000 is required plus a property purchase of €350,000 or a rental of €16,000 p.a..



The Caribbean schemes offer the benefits of a second passport at a lower cost than the European schemes.

  • Antigua and Barbuda – options include contributing $100,000 to the Antigua National Development Fund, investment of $1.5 million establishing a business or invest $400,000 in a government approved real estate project for at least 5 years.
  • Dominica – there are two options: contributing $100,000 ($200,00 for a family of up to four) to the government or a $200,000 investment in real estate.
  • Grenada – there are two options: either $200,000 donation to the government or $350,000 invested for at least four years in a government approved real estate project.
  • Kitts & Nevis – there are two options: $250,000 donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund or an investment of $400,000 in designated  real estate.
  • Lucia – $100,000 investment in St. Lucia National Economic Fund, in an approved enterprise or real estate project or in the purchase of government bonds.