While the idea of a second passport may hold great appeal, when it comes to making the substantial investment required by residency and citizenship by investment programmes, the benefits have to be momentous in order for the investment to be deemed worthwhile. This is according to CEO of Monarch&Co – a company which offers residency and citizenship programmes, investment properties and capital investment opportunities in hand-picked territories around the world – James Bowling.
He explains that for each investor, different benefits of citizenship in different countries will hold varying degrees of appeal.
“The overriding advantage for many investors in these programmes is the fact that they will be eligible for citizenship in a country without having to emigrate, or having ancestral ties to that country,” he says.
“For this reason, economic citizenship, as it’s often referred to, holds great appeal for High Net Worth (HNW) and Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals, as they also often benefit from the return on their investment within these programmes in addition to gaining citizenship opportunities.”
Bowling highlights the top benefits for investors in citizenship by investment programmes as the following:
Citizenship by investment programmes often provide the investor and their families with access to better basic services such as healthcare, education, security and transport.
“Cyprus, Portugal, Malta and the United Kingdom are all members of the European Union; meaning that a citizen in any one of these countries can live, work and study in any other EU country, which is considered to be a huge benefit to many,” says Bowling.
Bowling points out that some citizenship by investment programmes offer investors returns on their investment of up to 12% and sometimes a buy-back guarantee once the investor qualifies for citizenship. “Not only does this reduce the risk of the investment, but it also allows investors, especially those from the African continent, to earn returns in a foreign – and often stronger – currency.”
Freedom of travel is one of the major benefits of these programmes, says Bowling who notes that many African passport holders incur huge inconveniences when travelling abroad because of the passport that they carry. “Visa applications can be a costly, time consuming and a generally frustrating procedure. Buying into a citizenship programme will eliminate the need to apply for visas as the programmes offered by Monarch&Co allow investors to travel visa-free to most countries in the world,” he explains.
Through gaining a second citizenship, investors are also often able to enjoy tax breaks as well as the possibility of improved personal and corporate tax exposure. “The extent of these benefits would depend on the new jurisdiction’s offering and incentives as well as where the investor decides their primary tax residence will be. Cyprus and Malta – and in the case of Africa, Mauritius – are countries that offer very attractive tax jurisdictions to citizens,” says Bowling.
While citizenship by investment applications can take time, the application process largely depends on how quickly the applicants can submit the necessary documentation. “The time taken for investors to receive their citizenship status varies, depending on the country and programme. For example, Grenadian and Cypriot citizenship investors can receive their passports within two to three months, while those who invested in Antigua and Barbuda can expect to receive their passports within three to six months. Other countries like Portugal and the USA can take up to six years before investors can apply for citizenship, however in these instances, investors still receive a great number of benefits in the years building up to their citizenship status, such as visa-free travel,” Bowling explains.
He concludes by saying that the time it takes to process these citizenship applications and the level of investment required have proven to be worthwhile for a number of high end investors, who are now reaping the financial and lifestyle advantages that these citizenship programmes offer.