EU citizenship provides a wealth of benefits, including the freedom to travel across all other EU member countries, the right to live or work in any EU country, as well as the right to establish a company and do business in the EU freely.
In addition to these, EU citizenship may provide access to national healthcare benefits, the ability to own property, the privilege to ensure a secure future and the opportunity to study at top-tier universities, with a possibility to get reduced fees.
With all these benefits, the demand for EU citizenship has remained high throughout the years. Here, we take a look at four of the most popular investment programmes that may lead to European citizenship:
1. Irish Immigrant Investor Programme
Ireland is an attractive option for investors who want to access the country’s economic advantages. The country ranks 6th on the Index of Economic Freedom and has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Latest figures from the World Bank show Ireland has a higher annual Gross Domestic Product growth (5.5) than the United States (2.2) and United Kingdom (1.5).
The Irish Immigrant Investor Programme requires an investment of EUR 1 million into a government fund regulated and authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland. The investment covers the main applicant, spouse and dependent children, and is made only after the application has been approved.
Furthermore, the investment can be reduced by EUR 50,000 if a dependent child is accepted into an Irish university.
The Irish permanent residency programme is widely preferred by high-net-worth individuals and families that want to give their children access to Irish universities, which are some of the best in the world. The programme also does not require applicants to relocate to Ireland to maintain residency.
The programme grants a “Stamp 4” residency visa status to investors, which is renewable every 2 to 3 years, then every 5 years. Citizenship can be acquired by investors and their families if they physically reside in Ireland for more than 5 years.
This policy often proves advantageous for clients who send their children to universities in Ireland. Upon finishing a four-year bachelor’s degree, their children can secure citizenship with just another year of physical residency in Ireland.
Additionally, Irish citizens have the option to reside in the UK or in any EU country – an advantage that has become exclusive to Ireland since the UK left the EU.
2. Malta Permanent Residency Programme
The Malta Permanent Residency Programme issues a lifetime residency certificate to investors and their dependents, allowing them to reside in Malta indefinitely. However, physical residency in Malta is not required.
The certificate also grants visa-free access to all Schengen states, as well as Monaco, the Vatican and San Marino.
After meeting the 5-year physical residency requirement of the programme, investors can apply for EU Long-Term Residency, which grants many of the same benefits as the Maltese citizenship.
The programme requires a minimum investment of EUR 250,000 into a government bond, which can be financed for only EUR 70,000. However, this investment option is expected to be changed into a government donation by March 2021.
Investors who are interested in Malta’s permanent residency programme are strongly encouraged to begin their applications while the financing option is still available.
3. Portugal Golden Visa Programme
The Portuguese Golden Visa Programme grants European residency to investors, visa-free travel to Schengen countries, as well as access to quality healthcare and educational opportunities. The programme allows family members to be included in the application without additional investment.
Portugal’s Golden Visa programme includes real estate investment options – ranging from EUR 280,000 to EUR 500,000 – in premium urban areas, such as Lisbon, Porto and The Algarve.
However, by 1st July 2021, these will be limited to countryside properties, following recent changes by the government. Hence, investors who want to secure European residency through Portugal’s Golden Visa programme are advised to start their applications before the changes are implemented.
At present, limited real estate units are available in The Algarve, starting from EUR 250,000, after an initial return.
The programme’s residency requirements are minimal. Residency can be initially renewed after 12 months, and then every 2 years, provided that applicants reside in Portugal for only 7 days in the first year and 14 days for each of the following two-year periods.
Applicants who want to obtain Portuguese citizenship can apply for it after 5 years. Portuguese citizens enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship, since Portugal has been an EU member since 1986.
4. Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Programme
Located in the south eastern part of Europe, Montenegro offers a second citizenship programme that allows successful applicants to obtain citizenship within just 6 months.
Montenegrin passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to more than 120 countries and a high quality of life. According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual ranking that measures global prosperity, Montenegro ranks 52nd in quality of life.
The country also ranks 50th on the Ease of Doing Business index by the World Bank. Moreover, Montenegro is a candidate for the planned expansion of the EU in 2025.
The Montenegro citizenship-by-investment programme requires a minimum investment of EUR 100,00 into a government fund and a minimum investment of EUR 250,000 into real estate.
Obtaining European citizenship for you and your family can be a faster and more straightforward process with these leading residency and citizenship-by-investment programmes.
However, it is still important to gain a full understanding of each programme to know which one offers you the most benefits and effectively meets your needs.
Next Generation Equity is one of the leading, trusted and government-approved facilitators of second citizenship applications across Europe and the Caribbean.
We specialise in delivering proven solutions, sound advice and practical support for clients from around the world, guiding them into investing in the right second citizenship or alternative residency.