INTRODUCTION

From artworks to property to super yachts, something sets the ultra-wealthy apart; the need to continually amass trophies. Undoubtedly, obtaining another citizenship is the recent trophy for the ultra-wealthy.

Asides from the boost of status and increased global mobility getting a passport of another country gives, it also keeps the wealthy rest assured that they and their family have an exit plan should there be insurrection in their country of citizenship. As it appears, even the wealthy needs a plan B.

Unlike some countries like the US that gives foreigners and residents the opportunity to gain citizenship after meeting specific criteria, some other countries allow foreigners to gain citizenship out rightly in exchange for a set minimum direct investment typically in property or local business. Some of these countries are Malta, Moldova, Cyprus, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Portugal, Antigua and Barbuda.
Eight of these countries have been classified as offshore financial centres by the International Monetary Fund. The import of this is that they levy little or no taxes on corporate and/or personal foreign income.
This article sets to highlight the requirements and benefits of acquiring a second passport and how much citizenship costs in some of these countries.

INVESTMENT CITIZENSHIP IN CYPRUS

The Cyprus Investment Program is one of the incentives introduced by the Cypriot Government to boost foreign direct investment into Cyprus. The Cyprus Investment Program allows a non-Cypriot citizen to assume citizenship status in exchange for meeting minimum investment criteria. Qualification may be attained personally by the applicant or through company/companies the applicant is a part of either as a shareholder or a high-ranking senior manager.

Investment Requirements
• Applicants can make a minimum investment of EUR 2 million in real estate, developments and infrastructure projects.
• Applicants can make a minimum investment of EUR 2 million in purchasing or creation of businesses or companies which must have a huge presence in Cyprus and have the capacity to employ 5 Cyprus Citizens or EU citizens.
• Applicants can participate in alternative investment funds (AIF), purchasing minimum units amounting to EUR 2 million. It can be in the form of bonds, debt securities.
• Applicants can participate in a combination of the above options; the investments totaling a minimum of EUR 2 million.

Other Requirements
• Applicants must be more than 18 years.
• Certificate of no criminal record (to certify that the applicant has a clean record).This will be verified in the home country of the applicant.
• A freezing or confiscation order of property must not be on the Applicant’s name within the boundaries of the European Union.
• All applicants must own a residence in Cyprus with a minimum market value of EUR 500,000 plus VAT.

Typically, the time frame for processing an application for Cypriot citizenship by Investment is 6 months. Successful applicants receive full citizenship for themselves and their dependents (spouse, children below 18 years and children between 18 to 28 who are full time students and financially dependent on the applicant).

Benefits of the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program
• The Cypriot Passport gives citizens the right to live, study and work in all the 28 EU countries.
• The Cypriot Passport grants holders Visa Free travel to 171 countries in the world.
• The Cypriot Passport grants holders the right to security within the European social and legal system.

CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

The citizenship by Investment program was one of the initiatives introduced by the Antigua government to assuage the challenging economic climate in Antigua in recent years. Applicants under this stream are required to make notable economic contributions to the economy in exchange for a grant of citizenship to the applicants and their families.

Investment Requirements
• Applicants can make a non-refundable minimum contribution of 100,000 USD to the National Development Fund (for a family not exceeding 4 members)
• Applicants can make a minimum investment of 400,000USD in approved real estate projects. However, such investments have to be retained within a five year period or till a substantial implementation of the project has been carried out.
• Applicants can solely make a minimum investment of 1,500,000USD or a minimum Joint investment of 5,000,000USD between two persons at least in an eligible business, each of those persons making a minimum investment of 400,000USD

Other Requirements
• Applicants must be more than 18 years.

• Applicants must have a clean personal background and must have never been recipients of a free pardon.
• Applicants are required to reside in Antigua for a total of 5 days in the first five years.
• Applicants will be ineligible if they have been convicted in any country of an offence whose maximum custodial penalty exceeds six months imprisonment.
• Applicants will be ineligible if they have been denied visa to a country that has a visa free arrangement with Antigua and Barbuda and has till the point of application not been able to obtain visa to the country that issued the denial.
• Applicants who are deemed potential national risks, reputational risks or under criminal investigation will be ineligible.
Typically, the time frame for l processing of Citizenship by Investment in Antigua and Barbuda is 3-4 months.

Benefits of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program.
• Antigua and Barbuda citizens have access to EU countries without a visa for three months within a six month period after first entry into the EU country.
• Antigua and Barbuda citizens enjoy special privileges in the UK and other Commonwealth countries as Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Commonwealth.
• The Investment program allows applicants to join children between the age of 18-28 who are full time students, parents/grandparents of over 58 years who are solely dependent on the applicant to the application as dependents
• Holders of the Antigua and Barbuda passport can easily travel to over 149 countries in the world without challenging visa requirements.

CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT IN GRENADA

This program requires a person to either make significant contribution to the economy of the country or acquire a qualifying asset approved by the government in exchange for the Grenada Passport subject to series of background checks and due diligence.
Through the implementation of the Investment Citizenship program, the government of Grenada hopes to create investment opportunities that will bring about sustainable employment in Grenada.

Investment Requirements
• Applicants can make a non-refundable minimum contribution of 150,000 USD to the National Transformation Fund(NTF)
• Applicants can acquire property from a Government Real estate project with a minimum worth of 350,000 USD. The real property in question must be held by the applicant for a minimum of three years.
• Applicants taking the real estate investment route will have to make payment of an additional government fee of USD 50,000 to cover them and up to three dependents.
• Applicants will be required to pay an additional USD 25,000 for each dependent after the third. This applies to applicants taking any of the two options-the NTF and the real estate option.

Other Requirements
• Applicants must be more than 18 years.
• Applicants must be proven to be of outstanding character.
• Applicants must have no criminal record.
• Applicants must have excellent health and a high personal net worth.
Typically, the time frame for processing of Citizenship by Investment in Grenada is 3 months.

Benefits of the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program.

• Holders of the Grenada Passport gain visa-free access to 141 countries including the UK, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and countries in the Schengen area.
• Grenada is the only Caribbean citizenship-by-investment country that grants passport holders visa -free access to China.
• Grenada holds an E-2 Investor Visa Treaty with the US which grants citizens by Investment the eligibility to apply for a non-immigrant Visa in the US.
• The Investment Citizenship program in Grenada requires a lower capital investment than other citizenship programs such as that of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis.
• The application process of the Investment Citizenship in Grenada takes approximately three months from submission making it one of the investment immigration programs with the fastest application process.
• The application process of the Investment Citizenship in Grenada doesn’t require a physical visit by the applicant making it one of the investment programs with an easy and seamless process.
• The Investment Citizenship program in Grenada does not restrict Citizenship being passed down to future generations. In other words, citizenship is for life and can be passed down from one generation to another.
(This article is first of a series of articles on Citizenship by Investment for high net worth individuals in Nigeria)

DAYO ADU: dayo.adu@famsvillesolicitors.com

OMOLOLA AHMED: omolola.ahmed@famsvillesolicitors.com