Can I Sell or Transfer My Citizenship Acquired Through Investment?

Can I sell or transfer my citizenship acquired through investment?

Citizenship by investment programs (CIPs) offers individuals the chance to legally acquire a new nationality in exchange for an investment in the country’s economy. Such programs are becoming increasingly popular as people seek the benefits that come with a second passport and being permanent residents in another country.

With multiple investment options in numerous countries from Caribbean countries to European nations, popular options offer citizenship in return for an investment project. However, there are specific rules that you must adhere to within a citizenship-by-investment scheme, leading individuals to question if and when they can sell their newly acquired citizenship. 

Overview of Citizenship by Investment Programs

Citizenship by investment programs offer affluent individuals a route to acquire citizenship and second passports. These programs, located in numerous countries, including Caribbean countries like St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, cater to investors seeking to expand their global mobility and access new business opportunities.

Investors can select from diverse investment criteria options such as real estate, with commercial or residential properties often requiring a minimum investment period. Alternatively, some opt for secure government bonds to achieve permanent residency or citizenship, without the risk associated with active business ventures, or specific business investment projects offering a financial contribution to the economy.

Talk to a legal professional today to discuss your options

Investment Options for Acquiring Citizenship

A citizenship-by-investment scheme presents a range of substantial investment options tailored to foreign nationals seeking to acquire a new nationality via direct investment. These options fuel economic development while providing investors with a rapid and legitimate pathway to citizenship, often much quicker than conventional immigration routes. Most are a one-time, non-refundable contribution, providing you with a simple path to dual citizenship. Here are some key investment opportunity examples:

Non-Refundable Contribution to National Development Funds

The option of making non-refundable contributions to national funds is a philanthropic investment choice offered by many citizenship by investment programs. These contributions directly bolster the host nation’s economic growth, such as a $100,000 donation to St. Lucia’s national development fund leading to Caribbean citizenship.

Although these charitable donations come without the prospect of a financial return, they enable investors to play an integral role in enhancing the living conditions and prosperity of the local populations. Non-refundable contributions are channeled into government-sponsored projects that cover a wide range of sectors, ensuring that the funds have a lasting impact on the community and the overall stability of the nation’s economy.

Direct Investment in Government Approved Projects

Direct investment in government projects (e.g., government-approved real estate projects) is another avenue for obtaining citizenship. This option typically requires a minimum investment criteria that can start from $200,000 and involves purchasing shares in luxury resorts or other high-value developments. Such investments may lead to second citizenship without giving investors control over project management or resort operations

Real Estate Investment

Government-approved real estate investment remains a popular option within citizenship by investment frameworks. The conditions vary by country: Turkey allows for citizenship with a $400,000 investment option that can be recouped through later commercial or residential property sales, while Grenada‘s program starts at a $220,000 threshold and delivers citizenship within six to nine months. These programs not only offer a tangible asset but also contribute to the housing market and infrastructure development of the host nation.

Government Bonds and Securities

Government bonds stand out for their security and passive nature as a substantial investment opportunity for alternative citizenship seekers. Favorable for those averse to market risks or not interested in hands-on business involvement, this route involves capital outlay into government bonds, which can be resold after a set period, typically between 3 to 5 years.

Saint Lucia and Turkey are examples of countries providing this option, allowing investors to gain citizenship without direct business engagement. Government bonds symbolize a secure and non-complex path to citizenship, perfect for investors who require a straightforward and risk-averse entry to new nationalities.

Top citizenship by investment programs in 2024

Requirements and Process for Acquiring Citizenship

Citizenship by investment programs offer a streamlined path to obtaining a second passport, making it an appealing option for foreign investors and entrepreneurs seeking the advantages of dual citizenship. Generally, the application process commences with selecting a qualifying investment and continues with a comprehensive application pack, detailing personal information and the chosen investment. The application is then rigorously screened through due diligence checks, ensuring adherence to international standards.

1. Minimum investment criteria and eligibility

The minimum investment requirements for citizenship by investment programs serve as a threshold to ensure that the economic contribution from foreign investors is substantial enough to impact local development positively. The minimum investment varies by country but is designed to be attainable for investors while fulfilling the economic goals of the host nation.

The spectrum of minimum investments across various programs can be wide. On the lower end, countries like St. Lucia have set contribution thresholds that tend to be more accessible, sometimes starting from $100,000 for a donation, offering one of the cheapest citizenship options. On the opposite spectrum, nations with more stringent economic needs or higher demand for their passports might set the bar much higher, requiring investments that can stretch into the millions.

2. Due diligence process for prospective applicants

The due diligence process is a critical step designed to maintain the integrity of citizenship by investment programs. This stringent vetting procedure involves verifying the applicant’s background, financial history, and the legality of the funds to be invested. Legal experts such as those from JHMarlin will guide individuals through this meticulous process.

Applicants could be denied for various reasons, including a criminal background, involvement in fraudulent activities, or failure to demonstrate the lawful origin of their investment funds. The rigorous scrutiny aims to prevent illegal activities and protect the reputation of the host country.

3. Successful applicants and their rights as citizens

After successfully navigating the investment requirements and due diligence processes, single applicants are bestowed with a passport and a certificate of citizenship from the government. Individuals above sixteen may be subjected to a mandatory interview, intended to corroborate the documentation and investment pledge. Upon receiving an approval letter in principle, applicant rights are significantly broadened.

What you need to know about the legal process of citizenship by investment

Can you Sell or Transfer Your Acquired Citizenship?

Investment-based citizenship is an attractive avenue for investors looking to expand their global reach and access various benefits that come with holding a second passport. However, this golden ticket is usually not one that you can simply pass on or exchange on the open market. 

Alternative citizenship acquired through investment cannot typically be sold or transferred due to the specific legal restrictions and terms set by nations offering citizenship programs. Such measures are intended to uphold the program’s integrity, and security, and keep citizenship from becoming a commodity that can be traded. Countries with citizenship by investment schemes have designed their programs to vet applicants for genuine intent and to prevent the selling or transferring of citizenship as a casual transaction. 

These conditions ensure that the primary goal of these programs – to bolster economic development – is not undermined by short-term speculative investments or misuse.  As a potential investor, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the legally binding terms you agree to when participating in these programs to avoid any misconceptions about the transferability of the newly acquired citizenship status.

Restrictions and limitations on selling or transferring citizenship

Regulatory frameworks across these programs enforce limitations on the liquidity of your investment. For instance, a mandated five-year holding period on property ownership before its sale is commonplace. This essential timeline serves as a vetting duration to uphold and preserve the value of the citizenship granted, ensuring candidates invest with intentions that align with national interests. Investors must maintain their investments—be it in real estate or other sectors—for the duration outlined in the program’s legislation to keep their citizenship status. 

Potential options for transferring citizenship to a family member

While direct sales of citizenship are not permissible, citizenship by investment programs often provide a pathway for families to obtain citizenship collectively. The primary investor can include their spouse, children, and even dependent parents in their initial application. Each addition incurs government fees, and, where required, individuals undergo a due diligence validation.

Children older than 18 and financially reliant parents are eligible for inclusion in the investor’s application. However, it’s important to note that these provisions are not an outright sale or transfer of citizenship; rather, they represent a legal extension of privileges to immediate family members under the initial terms of the investment. Consequently, the investor’s descendants may attain citizenship by descent, a common practice allowing individuals to claim citizenship through ancestral lineage.

Can I include dependent children in the application for citizenship by investment?

Benefits of Citizenship By Investment

A citizenship-by-investment opportunity serves as a gateway to a host of benefits for those who participate in them. Not only do they provide a quick pathway to citizenship, but they also unlock the potential for enhanced personal freedom and global access.

Economic Growth and Return on Investment

Citizenship by investment programs offer compelling economic benefits and substantial return on investment. Investors can secure citizenship in exchange for capital contributions, stimulating economic growth in the country of citizenship and residence. This investment often yields significant return deposits through capital gains, business ventures, and real estate holdings.

Additionally, citizenship by investment can optimize tax residency status and unlock international business opportunities. High net-worth applicants leverage these programs to diversify assets, access global markets, and enhance wealth preservation strategies. These programs serve as mutually beneficial arrangements, fostering economic development while offering investors a pathway to citizenship.

Dual Citizenship and its Travel Benefits

Dual citizenship is akin to holding a VIP pass for global travel. Programs in Caribbean nations such as Antigua and Grenada stand out for the travel mobility they offer. The flexibility of a Caribbean passport often allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries worldwide. For example, a Caribbean passport from Grenada allows holders to visit 146 jurisdictions without the need for a visa program, from the EU to China, highlighting the considerable travel freedom it affords.

Adding to the benefits, Grenadian citizens are eligible to apply for the US E2 visa, a nod to strong bilateral agreements and a testament to the passport’s standing. Renowned among affluent investors, Grenada’s program is celebrated for its swift process, cost-efficiency, and the expansive travel and business opportunities it unlocks — including the possibility of establishing residency in the United States.

Cultural Benefits

Dual citizenship paves the way for profound cultural integration. By investing in a second country, individuals can immerse themselves seamlessly into the local community and culture. Such programs encourage cross-cultural exchanges that enrich the personal experiences of investors. Having access to the cultural heritage, traditions, and everyday societal engagement of a different nation can significantly broaden one’s horizons.

In addition to personal enrichment, citizenship by investment enables individuals to play a role in the host country’s cultural scene actively. As citizens, they have the opportunity to contribute to cultural preservation, participate in local festivals, and even influence cultural growth through philanthropy or active involvement in community projects. This two-way street benefits both the investor and the host, fostering mutual development and understanding.

Here’s why high-net-worth individuals are investing in their passport portfolio

Alternative to Citizenship by Investment: Residency by Investment Option

While citizenship by investment heralds a direct and expedient route to second citizenship, there are other avenues that investors might consider. Residency programs offered by various countries provide an alternative path that typically involves living in the country for a set number of years before becoming eligible for citizenship.

Citizenship and residency each have their advantages. Citizenship by investment slashes red tape and waiting times, offering immediate benefits like visa-free travel and potential tax resident advantages. The entrepreneurial spirit also finds fertile ground, as new business networks and opportunities unfurl.

On the flip side, the financial sacrifice for citizenship by investment is formidable, and unlike other types of investments, it does not promise a material return on investment. In contrast, residency programs could present a softer financial blow with options like rental income from real estate purchases. A temporary residence permit also provides a potential route to the settlement that sidesteps the hefty outlays associated with immediate citizenship programs.

The best citizenship by investment law firm

5 Popular Citizenship By Investment Countries

Embark on a journey through the world’s premier Citizenship By Investment (CBI) destinations. From the comfort of your current country of residence, delve into the application processes, passport by investment options, and diverse business investment opportunities across jurisdictions. Explore the strategic locations, financial requirements, and eligibility criteria tailored for discerning individuals seeking global mobility and security. 

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program offers a valuable opportunity for investors to obtain dual citizenship through either a significant economic contribution to the country’s National Transformation Fund or an investment in approved real estate projects. Initiated in 2013, this program has grown in popularity due to several compelling advantages. Notably, it provides visa-free travel to over 140 countries, including the UK, EU countries, and China, making it highly attractive for global entrepreneurs and travelers. 

Additionally, Grenada’s program is unique because it allows citizens to apply for a USA E-2 visa, which permits investors to operate a business and reside in the US. The application process is relatively quick, usually taking just a few months, and does not require a residency prior to or after obtaining citizenship. These features, combined with Grenada’s political and economic stability, make its citizenship by investment program a popular choice for those seeking enhanced global mobility and business opportunities.

The twin-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis was the pioneer of citizenship by investment, launching its program in the 1980s. Renowned for their solid passport—ranked 21st globally—it grants substantial global mobility, visa-free access to 153 countries including the EU’s Schengen Area. The investor program in St Kitts and Nevis stands out for its inclusivity, allowing the addition of close family members to the application.

With distinctive investment options in luxury real estate such as shares in upscale hotels, villas, and condominiums, applicants not only get the passport but potentially enjoy resort amenities annually. However, the grants of citizenship are not automatic and are subject to government approval upon thorough screening.

Shifting to the sunny climes of the Caribbean islands, Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment provides a swift citizenship timeline, processing applications within 3 to 4 months. Being part of the CARICOM community, citizens enjoy a host of collective rights. A noteworthy perk for high-net-worth individuals is eligibility for a 10-year, multiple-entry U.S. visa.

Investment avenues and business opportunities include contributions to the National Development Fund or property investments, with a $30,000 processing fee for a family of four—making it a feasible route for investors to Caribbean citizenship.

Malta stands out as an EU member state offering citizenship by investment via the Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization Program. A strategic stepping stone to Europe, citizenship can be secured with a minimum investment of €600,000 or bond investment of €150,000, granting a potent passport that unlocks over 180 countries for visa-free travel, among them the U.S.

The Maltese program mandates an investment into property, with the option to buy or rent, alongside a philanthropic gesture of €10,000 to an NGO. Malta’s real estate market is dynamic, presenting potential capital appreciation and an attractive average rental yield of 5 to 15%. For investors, the program represents a strategic investment with the substantial benefit of European residency rights, and educational and professional opportunities.

Turkey’s citizenship by investment program presents a versatile selection of investment pathways, starting at USD 400,000 in real estate to options in banking, fund shares, fixed capital, or government bonds. Property investors must retain their real estate assets for five years post-purchase.

The program duration stretches between 6 to 8 months, and real estate emerges as the preferred option with 95% of investors choosing this route. Turkish citizenship by investment unlocks visa-free access to over 120 countries along with facilitated Schengen and U.S visa applications, adding to its allure as a gateway to global mobility.

The power of dual citizenship

Start Your Citizenship By Investment Process With JHMarlin

JHMarlin offers comprehensive legal services for acquiring citizenship or residency by investment, ensuring a seamless process for clients worldwide. Our expert team specializes in maximizing financial returns while navigating complex legal frameworks. Whether pursuing citizenship or a residence permit, we tailor strategies to match investment amounts and preferences.

From real estate ventures to entrepreneurial endeavors, we meticulously handle investment details. With our guidance, clients can choose between direct citizenship routes or residency pathways, catering to eligible individuals seeking enhanced global mobility and security. You can trust JHMarlin to facilitate your journey towards a prosperous future through strategic investment in coveted jurisdictions!

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