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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Moldova: the most cost-effective passport from Europe

Citizenship by Investment has become one of the most reliable ways to obtain a legal citizenship and passport for many nationalities around the world. Allowing the ability to travel easily and secure a better future for individuals. However, when we talk about obtaining a fast-track second passport or citizenship and without immigration requirements, many come at a hefty price.

The Republic of Cyprus has one of the world’s most famous citizenship by investment programs and it is the only country that can offer a European nationality without ever needing to immigrate or prove residence in the country to obtain it. However, the property investment required to obtain the Cypriot citizenship stands at 2 million EURO which it is not affordable to large number of potential applicants. Many consider Caribbean countries like Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada through which they can achieve a second citizenship with a considerably lower investment amount.

For many investors in the region, some Caribbean countries can pose some difficulties to obtain their citizenship. In some cases, certain nationalities are banned from applying and they could encounter issues to transfer funds to the Government’s accounts due to intermediary banks based in the United States.

Moldova recently launched its citizenship program, the country is located in Europe and investors can obtain its passport without any residency requirements. The program is cost effective and has a quick processing time where applicants can obtain their citizenship in approximately 3 months. Moldovan citizens have visa-free travel to major countries around the world, most notably, Schengen countries, Russia and Turkey. The Moldovan citizenship program requires an applicant to transfer an amount of EUR 100,000 to Moldova’s Public Investment Fund. The amount goes up to EUR 155,000 for an applicant with more than 4 dependents. Another positive feature in Moldova’s CBI program is the ability to transfer citizenship to future generations without restrictions.

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe with a 4 million population. The country is famous for its world-class wine industry and picturesque landscapes. The service sector has grown to dominate Moldova’s economy and currently composes over 60% of the nation’s GDP. In 2017, total bilateral trade between the EU and Moldova increased by 18% to €4 billion. The European Union’s imports from Moldova increased by 23% in 2017, to the value of €1.6 billion.

Although Moldova is not yet part of the European Union, the EU is Moldova’s first trading partner and the first investor in the country, accounting for over 55% of total trade. The value of agricultural, machinery and transport EU imported products from Moldova also grew confirming the positive trend of growth in Moldovan exports to the EU.

Moldova is actively pursuing joining the European Union member states through the EU Eastern Partnership policy. As part of its effort, Moldova is working on integrating various sectors such as transport, Energy, Technology, Media and Telecom with the EU for the possibility to deepen its corporation with the EU and increase the chances of becoming a member state.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Turkish Nationality: The Most Desired Citizenship Program among GCC Expats

Citizenship by Investment programs have been witnessing some major changes and one of them is the introduction of the new Turkish citizenship program which was published on the Official Gazette and entered into force in September 2018. The new law requires a minimum Real Estate investment of USD 250,000 and the citizenship could be obtained in approximately 6 months.

With over 4 million Arabs residing in Turkey, the country is certainly one of the most desirable destinations for Middle Eastern people. Historically Arabs feel at home in Turkey, love Istanbul and the demand for the newly launched citizenship program shows so. Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world and its on its way to hit the 1 billion USD mark in GDP in 2020.

In 2018 Turkey has seen an increase in real estate sales by over 20%. This is largely due to the drop of the property prices after the imposed US sanctions that weakened the Turkish Lira. Buying a property in Turkey today is almost 50% cheaper than a year ago only due to the exchange rate.  With the amendment of the citizenship legislation, sales in Turkey are set to fly.

There are many advantageous aspects of becoming a Turkish citizen. Firstly, investors can obtain the citizenship without ever residing in Turkey and within a period of approximately 6 months from submission of the citizenship application.

There is a high number of expats from countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Egypt to name a few, who currently reside in the GCC, facing difficulties to obtain visas due to their current passports and looking for options. Turkey poses a good investment choice for them as it allows the option of owning property as well as a strong passport simultaneously and the possibility of moving to Turkey if they wish.

Turkey offers applicants the eligibility to become citizens through multiple ways such as a fix deposit of USD 500,000 for 3 years in a bank operating in Turkey; a fixed capital investment; or even generate employment in Turkey. However, the most interesting option is through investing in Turkey’s suppressed real estate market.

Investors are scrambling to find the property of their choice to qualify for the citizenship knowing that they can sell it after 3 years and keep the citizenship for life. An additional advantage is that the property can be passed to children without paying any form of inheritance tax.

A foreigner acquiring Turkish citizenship by investment has the same rights as any Turkish born in the country, therefore for those wanting to make Turkey their home this is a great advantage having the same level of equality, included the ability to pass the citizenship to future generations. The Turkish passport allows  visa free travel to 111 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other major countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Investors do not need to reside in Turkey at any point in time, which means they do not need to disrupt their lives and can just keep it as an option for the future. Spouse and all dependents under 18 years of age are eligible for the Turkish citizenship as well.

If the investor decides to live in Turkey, the country offers amazing quality of services and is considered to be one of the most low-cost places to live in. Basic costs like Electric and gas, council tax, rent, renovations, maintenance, food and drink, everyday groceries, transport and even petrol costs are just a fraction of what it costs in the EU and other developed countries.

Turkey’s infrastructure makes transport in Turkey convenient and reliable with easy access to a number of airports all year round, your journey home is normally within half an hour in most popular locations.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Recently Cyprus has been recognized as the ‘super star’ of the citizenship by investment programs worldwide. The country has the most appealing second citizenship program being the only European country which grants the nationality in only 6 months without ever having to reside there. Cyprus has officially and by far, the fastest form of legally obtaining a European citizenship and passport which enables living, working and studying in any of the 28 countries members of the European Union.

Moreover, Cypriot passport holders can travel to major destinations without applying for visas. It allows instant visa free travel to over 170 countries including the UK, UAE, European Union countries, Canada, Australia among other major countries and often allows a stay from 30 up to 90 days at a time depending on each country.

Most importantly, the citizenship can be inherited by family members and future generations. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond also have the right to obtain the citizenship and passport through a very simple process which takes only two weeks.

Unlike many of the fast track citizenship programs which require a non-refundable financial contribution to a Government fund, Cyprus offers its investors the possibility of earning a good return while obtaining the citizenship. The Cypriot citizenship law requires a temporary investment of EUR 2 million in a Real Estate investment in Cyprus which is required to be held for 3 years and thereafter can be sold while maintaining a property worth 500,000 EUROS. It is certain that not everyone can afford it, but for those who can, this is potentially on of the best investment they would have made in their lifetimes, leaving their families a great legacy.

The program has become so popular among HNWI citizenship applicants from all over the world especially Asia, Middle East and Russia, that the Cypriot Government has recently announced a cap of only 700 applications per annum to maintain its high standards. According to Cypriot news agencies, the Government of Cyprus has released reports of issuing passports for over 3,300 families bringing into the economy approximately USD 4.5 Billion. This has helped turning the Cypriot economy around becoming one of the fastest growing GDP’s in Europe. At the moment, Cyprus GDP levels are considerably higher than those of the Eurozone and the European Union according to a report released by the international firm KPMG.

The Cypriot citizenship by investment program is one of the many incentives established by the Government to attract foreign direct investment to the country. The first amendments to the citizenship law were introduced back in 2013. Since its inception, the program has undergone various improvements to make it more accessible and attractive for investors. In September 2016, the Government of Cyprus introduced an amendment which reduced the minimum investment amount to EUR 2 million (from EUR 2.5 million) and the option to add the parents of the main applicant for an additional EUR 500,000 plus VAT investment in a property in Cyprus.

According to official statistics from the Department of Land and Surveys, in 2017 Cyprus has recorded a 24% increase in real estate sales contracts, 30% of which accounted to non-nationals. Not surprisingly 31% of the real estate transactions in 2017 were properties valued at around 2 million EUROS, which indicates that a high number of investors are purchasing real estate as a mean to obtain the Cypriot citizenship.

The contribution of real estate to Cyprus’ GVA amounted to EUR 2,4 Billion in 2017. Construction activities from 2013 onwards indicate to have broken through the slowdown of the financial crisis, which has been clearly left way behind, and entered into an expansion period which until 2019 is set stretch to pre-2013 levels where Cyprus recorded all-time highs in real estate transactions.

From a taxation point of view Cypriot passports holders actually benefit. Non-tax residents are not liable for income tax generated outside the country. More importantly Cyprus does not impose inheritance tax on property, which gives the ability to pass it down to future generations without incurring costs.

So how does all this benefit investors? Cyprus has become one the of the most attractive real estate investments in Europe. This injection of billions of Euros in luxury real estate and infrastructure is turning the Cypriot landscape around. Limassol will soon have ‘One’ the tallest residential tower in Europe, Ayia Napa is undergoing the non-stop 24/7 construction of the most luxurious marina in the region with high end international restaurants and villas worth EUR 5 million with their own private berths. The whole country is having a radical facelift with modern contemporary architecture of glass and refined design are taking over. In the next 3 years, when allowed to re-sale, investors will be able to appreciate the growth of their investments as part of this radical transformation.

One can understand the excitement of savvy businessmen when considering buying property in Cyprus, after all they know that they are purchasing luxury real estate in a newly booming property market.

It is clear that Cyprus has not only become the ‘super star’ of citizenship programs but also earned a prime position amongst the most profitable real estate investments worldwide. Demand translates into growth which then translates into high profits. Whether applying for citizenship or not, Cyprus seems to be the place to invest in.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Obtaining a dual a nationality or second citizenship has long been a significant goal for many families in the Middle East.

The constant struggle of not being able to travel freely; being scrutinized by immigration and governmental entities; as well as being a citizen of countries with political and economic distress are the main drivers that encourage individuals to consider investing in a second nationality.

There are two main approaches for obtaining a second citizenship by investment. The first way is through Fast Citizenship programs which are prevalent in the Middle East as they provide the quickest route to owning a lawful second citizenship. Countries like St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia and Cyprus allow foreigners to financially contribute or invest in real estate to obtain a legal citizenship within a period of less than 6 months.

Furthermore, these countries’ citizenship legislative acts do not pose any relocation requirements, which means that the applicants and their families do not need to move to another country in order to obtain or keep the citizenship. The non-relocation requirement makes these programs highly popular among Middle Eastern businessowners and successful professionals. These programs have a strong effect in raising the country’s GDP but it can also culminate in long-term economic prosperity through investment in housing and infrastructure.

Some of these programs have existed for over 30 years and are sought-after by nationals from all over the world included Americans. From Middle East the key nationalities searching for these programs are Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Lebanese and many more who are constantly faced with travel restrictions. An alternate passport opens up an entirely new world on visa-free travel including the UK, Schengen countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, China, Hong Kong. Additionally, many nations in the Middle East face political and economic problems, which makes it difficult to predict the future of these nations, and their family futures along with them. Therefore, having a second citizenship or passport is a strong contingency plan for many individuals in the region.

Nevertheless, there is another option available for investors and it is through Residency programs. There are many countries around the world that grant applicants a permanent residency through investment. Let us take Spain as an example. Spain’s Golden Visa includes the main applicant, spouse, and all dependent children, after the applicant purchases a property in Spain. The duration of the Residence Permit in total is 5 years, Permanent Residence may then be applied for a further 5 years where you must reside in Spain to be eligible to apply for the citizenship. Residents may study, work and live indefinitely in Spain and travel visa-free within the European region. Best of all, they will own a European nationality, which consequently allows them to live anywhere in Europe and grants them visa-free access to over 170 countries worldwide.

Another example is Portugal, which is a member of the European Union and also has its own Residency program. Unlike Spain, this program does not require investors to physically live in Portugal to obtain the Portuguese citizenship. The country has a high quality of life with modern business and medical facilities, which makes Portugal a beautiful country with high standards of living. The citizenship will be granted to the applicant and family after a period of 6 years, therefore the entire family will benefit from being European nationals and will be able to pass the nationality to future generations through naturalization.

To make things simple, permanent residency programs are primarily for investors who plan to relocate to benefit from living in a European country and eventually becoming European citizens. However, it is the long route towards obtaining a second nationality and their citizenship is no 100% secure as it is up to the Government’s discretion.

Fast citizenship by investment programs on the other hand, pose different advantages. They are more suitable for individuals who do not wish to disrupt their current lives by immigrating to a different country, who do not want to wait 6 to 10 years and who are not willing to take a language test.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Citizenship with no commotion: Which countries offer a passport without migrating?

The vast majority of people believe that the process of obtaining a second citizenship or another nationality is long and tedious. Most look to countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, along with other European countries, only to be faced with their stringent requirements.

These requirements are both costly and time-consuming, often demanding people to reside in the country for a significant period of time, assimilating the culture and learning a new native language. However, another solution exists that many are not be familiar with.

A few countries in the world grant individuals full citizenship without the trouble of moving there and all other difficulties associated with it. Under such programs, these countries simply require a financial contribution or real estate investment in exchange of providing individuals and stakeholders a second citizenship in a period of two to six months.

For wealthy and affluent businessmen and entrepreneurs who do not have the option of immigrating without disrupting their lives, these programs are ideal as they can provide them and their families with the ability to obtain a second passport in a swift and convenient manner.

The following are the most prominent countries in the world that provide people with full citizenships without ever residing there:

Cyprus

Number one on the list is Cyprus. This is due to the fact that it is the only country that grants investors a European passport in only 6 months without ever re-locating. The passport allows access to 145 countries visa-free and most importantly the possibility to live and work anywhere within the European Union. Obtaining a Cypriot nationality comes with a price tag of Euros 2 Million in luxury real estate, however, for wealthy businessmen becoming a European national is the best option for their families and businesses, certainly well worth investing in.

These individuals have also realized the investment power in Cyprus’ booming real estate market. In addition, according to the Cypriot citizenship law, an investor is eligible to sell the property after 3 years, keeping one lower in value for Euros 500,000. This provides investors with the opportunity of making a profit while retaining full citizenship status.

Grenada

Grenada is a Caribbean country that has seen a great surge in demand for its citizenship. Grenada is special because is the only country in the Caribbean with a citizenship program which allows citizens to apply for an E-2 visa which grants them residency in the USA. The Grenadian passport is the only Caribbean passport that allows visa-free access to China, which can be a major advantage for stakeholders with business operations and ties with China.

Grenada grants its passport for a USD 200,000 financial contribution to the country’s National Transformation Fund. The country’s passport holders do not need to relocate to Grenada, and they will also get visa-free access to 120 countries including China, Schengen states, and the United Kingdom.

Saint Lucia

The citizenship by investment program being offered by this beautiful island in the Caribbean has become a major international player. It namely rose to fame because with a recent change in the legislation the citizenship program became more affordable and because it does not require you visit the country at any point in time.

A USD 100,000 contribution to St. Lucia’s National Economic Fund or an investment in a Government-Approved project in St. Lucia will lawfully grant you a second passport allowing you instant visa-free travel to 123 countries worldwide including the Schengen zone and the United Kingdom as well as other notable international business and tourist hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong. With the launch of The Ritz-Carlton Resort in St. Lucia, that is set to open its doors in 2021, the resort is set to be a major contributor to the country CBI program.

Dominica

Another favorite country among citizenship by investment programs without the need to immigrate is the Commonwealth of Dominica. It is one of the most cost-effective programs and allows visa-free access to 118 countries. The program has been established since 1991 and it grants an individual full citizenship rights for a financial contribution of USD 100,000 to the country’s Government Fund. Another investment option is Dominica’s Government-Approved real estate projects such as Kempinski Hotel, through which investors have a tangible investment with a profitable potential.

Saint Kitts & Nevis

This Caribbean country allows you to acquire its citizenship without immigrating and living in it at any point in time. It requires a financial contribution of USD 250,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) or a real estate investment of USD 400,000 in any Government Approved project. St. Kitts passport offers visa-free travel to 129 countries included Schengen states and United Kingdom.

Antigua & Barbuda

Unlike other countries in the Caribbean, Antigua does require you to visit the country for at least 5 days before granting you its citizenship, which is certainly worthwhile as the country is stunning. The citizenship program requires a minimum financial contribution of USD 250,000 to the National Development Fund or a USD 400,000 in the country’s Government-Approved project. Its passport allows you visa-free access to 129 worldwide including all of the Schengen zone, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other first world countries.

Portugal

This is the last country on our list. We chose to mention Portugal in this list because it technically could grants you citizenship without moving or living in the country. The major difference with Portugal and the rest of the countries on the list is that an individual need to obtain a Residency card in Portugal and maintain the card for a period of 5 years, subsequently obtain Permanent Residency and after year 6 he or she could be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided that they have a basic knowledge of Portuguese language. The initial residency card is granted after an initial investment of Euros 500,000 in real estate anywhere in Portugal and must be renewed a couple of times over the first 5 years.

Once your citizenship is granted, according to the law your passport is irrevocable. Each country, with the exception of Portugal, process the citizenship in a timeframe of two to six months, the period varies from one country to the other and from case to case.