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Thanks to these uncertain times, citizenship by investment programs are rapidly growing in importance among high net worth individuals.
As remarked to Professional Wealth Management by Micha-Rose Emmett, CEO of CS Global Partners, citizenship by investment “more than ever is coming into its time,” and it’s becoming crucial for individuals to look for a “diversification of nationalities” to tackle these times of crisis.
“Today, especially since Trump and Brexit, everybody is wondering where they belong, how they fit in and how this will affect the future of their children,” said Emmett, who will be one of Taxlinked’s panelists in its upcoming CBI webinar on September 20th.
The Top 12 Citizenship by Investment Programs
In light of this growing importance, a 2017 study conducted by the Financial Times’ PWM and led by researcher James McKay ranked the top citizenship by investment programs throughout the globe.
The twelve programs looked at were ranked based on either their “overall performance and desirability,” or seven fundamental “pillars” consisting of freedom of movement, standard of living, minimum investment outlay, mandatory travel or residence, citizenship timeline, ease of processing and due diligence.
The table below lists the citizenship by investment programs analyzed by Professional Wealth Management based on their final scores and overall ranking.
Source: CBI Index (http://cbiindex.com/)
A Closer Look at the Best Citizenship by Investment Programs
Several conclusions can be drawn from the Professional Wealth Management’s results.
First of all, in terms of freedom of movement, the four European Union programs ranked higher than those in the Caribbean, Africa or Oceania.
As stated in the report, “of these four, the highest ranking were also members of the Schengen Area, which, for the most part, operates under a common visa policy.”
Same sort of logic applied to standard of living with the European nations far surpassing their Caribbean, African and Oceania counterparts in key factors such as life expectancy, real GDP growth, gross national income, relative safety and education, to name a few.
In terms of minimum investment outlay, the Europe-based programs fell short considering their hefty investment requirements.
For instance, Cyprus requires a 2 million Euro investment, while Malta calls for one amounting to 1.2 million Euros.
On the other hand, programs like those in Comoros, Vanuatu, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Dominica offer HNWIs citizenship for less than 200 thousand dollars.
Furthermore, most countries except more Malta scored fairly high in the mandatory travel or residency requirement thanks to their flexibility in terms of how much time must be spent there.
Malta, however, scored very poorly as a result of its “more complex physical residence requirements” and a “genuine link test” that “only provides some flexibility to how an individual can demonstrate residence on the island.”
Saint Kitts & Nevis and Vanuatu ranked highest in terms of the application’s turnaround and how fast citizenship is awarded to the HNWI. Both of these countries award citizenship in less than a month.
Comoros, Dominica, Grenada, Cyprus, Antigua & Barbuda, Cambodia and Saint Lucia also ranked highly in the citizenship timeline requirement with passports being issued in between one and five months.
When it comes to ease of processing, the Caribbean programs outranked their counterparts.
According to Professional Wealth Management’s research, “the Caribbean was awarded the highest number of points for its ability to offer applicants streamlined and clear procedures to apply for citizenship. This reflects two important points regarding the region. Firstly, the requirements imposed on applicants in the Caribbean each follow the same model, and secondly, these nations have all committed to making their procedures transparent.”
Finally, in terms of due diligence, “Dominica, Malta, and St Kitts and Nevis scored equally to take first place, owing to their unique data collection and due diligence features.”
For the full research project, have a look at the CBI Index and feel free to download the report.
Are there any citizenship by investment programs missing in this report? If so, how do you think they’d stand up to the 12 studied here?
Let us know in the comments section!