Direct Citizenship by Investment programs are part of an immigration category under which an investor contributes a specific sum of money to the nation’s economy in exchange for permanent residence and ultimately citizenship/passport in that country. Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law of a country that grants that person the rights and the duties of citizenship. That may include the right to vote, work and live in the country, the right to return to the country, the right to own real-estate, legal protections against the country's government, and protection through the military or diplomacy. Since many countries around the world have recognized the numerous and significant benefits that foreign investment offers a nation’s economy, these countries have enacted measures to encourage foreign nationals to invest into their respective economies. These measures include beneficial tax breaks, relaxed reporting requirements, and opportunities for the investor’s family to live, work, and study in the country as well. In order to attract the most foreign investors possible, countries are now offering citizenship by investment programs that allow interested investors to contribute a specific sum of money to the nation’s economy in exchange for permanent residence and ultimately citizenship in that country.
There are many ways a foreign national can become a citizen of a country other than the national’s country of origin.
It is important to emphasize that every country has established its own regulations and requirements which must be abided by in order to qualify for citizenship by investment. For instance, some countries require the foreign national to live in the country and oversee the investment whereas other countries do not have a residency requirement. However, there are general requirements that are common to many nations’ citizenship by investment programs.
In nearly every citizenship by investment program, the foreign national is required to invest (or promise to invest) a minimum amount into the country’s economy. The required amount varies from as low as USD $200,000 (as established by Dominica’s program) or as much as EUR €5,500,000 (as required by one of the Cyprus’s program). Moreover, many countries also require that the investment be directed into one of the available government approved projects or industries. Two of the most popular industries for foreign investment are real estate development projects and hotel development projects. Of course, there are other countries that allow foreign investors to decide where they want to direct the investment.
Many nations qualify their investment-based immigration recipients as skilled immigrants or immigrants who present an economic benefit to the country. Due to these classifications, several countries require that their foreign investors possess previous experience in managing a commercial enterprise or in pursuing successful entrepreneurial projects. Moreover, a number of nations further require that the foreign investor have a managerial or executive role in the commercial enterprise.
The majority of countries also require that their foreign investors prove that they obtained their investment funds from a lawful source such as from the investor’s savings, employment salary, mortgage, sale or rent of real property, etc. This aspect of a foreign investment application must usually be very detailed and contain sufficient evidence to show the pathway of the investor’s funds. In fact, the majority of foreign nationals who are not approved for the United States investment-based immigration programs are not approved because they failed to convince the U.S. immigration authorities that their investment funds were indeed derived from a lawful source.