Has Brexit Affected Citizenship by Investment in the EU?

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Scenic views, idyllic scenery and the feeling of content often accompanies us when we travel to lands afar. But these vacation destinations are giving way to something much more permanent; vacations are no longer in demand – passports are.

Investors, entrepreneurs and international families have increasingly indulged in obtaining 2nd citizenships over the last 30 years. However, these dual citizenships are obtained through a substantial investment being made into the country’s property, its industry projects or its economy.

These dual-option programmes design were initiated and pioneered by the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis in 1984, and has since then been adopted, adapted, and implemented as the basic programme framework in a number of other countries, including the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Cyprus, Malta and, most recently, the island of St Lucia.

Core benefits

The success of these programmes lies in each country’s individual core benefits, ranging from global mobility, business opportunities, a progressive tax regime, and access to sought-after education. The Caribbean is particularly alluring because it offers life in attractive, safe, and peaceful countries.

In a fast-changing political and economic climate, citizenship by investment programmes have become increasingly popular. Unlike many other investments, second citizenship allows individuals to diversify their assets across borders, and provides a safety net to guarantee future security and prosperity.

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“In a complex and unpredictable world, a second citizenship is a precious commodity.” explains Micha Emmett, Group Managing Director at CS Global Partners.

Malta is a relative newcomer to the citizenship by investment market, having witnessed the many positive effects and foreign direct investment generated by the citizenship by investment programmes of the Caribbean. Cyprus, another European island-nation, also runs a citizenship by investment programme. Portugal and other European nations offer residency programmes rather than citizenship programmes, which require at least five years of residence in a country prior to obtaining second citizenship, which can offer visa-free travel to the Schengen Area in the interim.

Citizenship

However, citizenship by investment is not a market that has escaped criticism, namely from local opposition. People take umbrage with the thought of their nationality being sold, they also fear that rather than new, popular developments being built – they will be left with ghost towns. To counter act these fears, the countries that have implemented these programmes have set requirements such as the 5 years of residency previously mentioned, building strong cultural and community links. There are is also a strong emphasis on showing an interest in learning the local language.

Although some entrepreneurs value the benefits of citizenship or residence in Europe, such as membership of the European Union, European investor immigration programmes are run on a much higher investment level. For example, while citizenship of Cyprus costs at least €2.5 million, citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis can be obtained by a US$250,000 donation.

One of the key attractions of the Malta and Cyprus Programmes is their ability to offer investors life in the United Kingdom – one of today’s most valued nations for businesspersons. Following the EU Referendum in June however, there is now reasonable uncertainty around the future of migration for British and continental European citizens, and thus around the ability of these two nations to continue to offer access to the UK. Among a number of significant consequences, citizens of the European Union and of Britain may no longer be able to live and work in each other’s territories without obtaining a relevant visa or permit. Since Britain wants to reduce immigrant inflow, the open-door policy to EU citizens is also likely be curtailed.

Significantly Affected

Furthermore, with the United Kingdom leaving the Union, the citizenship by investment market as a whole will be significantly affected. Interest in European programmes is expected to drop, devalued by the fact that they can no longer offer applicants relocation to London. The stable, accepting, and friendly Caribbean is instead likely to become more interesting. Dominica, Grenada, and St Kitts and Nevis, for example, each provide successful applicants with the option to travel without a visa to both the European Union (the Schengen Area) and the United Kingdom. Already, many clients are looking to withdraw their applications from Europe, and turning their attention to the Caribbean.

It is not just access to Europe that makes the Caribbean attractive. For instance, the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme offers inimitable benefits: visa-free travel to China, the right to participate in the United States’ E-2 Visa Programme – a strong alternative to the EB-5 Programme – and solid investment opportunities in tourism, geothermal energy, and organic agriculture. Grenada also provides one of the world’s most family-friendly programmes, with families of four given the chance to apply for citizenship in return for a US$200,000 contribution, and only US$25,000 required for each additional family member.

Contact CS Global Partners for more information

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