Time to Act: Major Changes to the Main Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programs
In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, causing an unprecedented demand for second passports, many countries running citizenship by investment (CBI) programs introduced favourable temporary options and discounts for various investment options. The offers enjoyed so much success that the majority of them were extended until the end of 2021; however, it is expected that most of them will no longer be renewed. Besides, some residency and citizenship by investment (RCBI) countries also providing advantageous options are planning to drastically restrict their terms or even phase out investment immigration programs starting from 2022. In view of the situation, now is the last chance to apply for these programs under the current terms.
With the increasing demand for citizenship and residency by investment due to the ongoing pandemic and overall instabilities of the world, many countries offering RCBI programs presented more favourable terms and discounted prices of their investment options. For example, in 2020 St Kitts and Nevis reduced the required minimum amount of the contribution to the Sustainable Growth Fund from the previous $195,000 to $150,000 for families of up to four people. This allowed investors to save $45,000, regardless of the number of dependants included in the application (whether it be one, two, or three). Originally, the discounted price was valid until 15 January 2021, but huge interest from international investors has prompted the country’s government to reintroduce the offer, making it available until 31 December 2021.
Dominica also lowered the investment minimum for families last year: the price of the contribution to the Economic Development Fund was reduced from $200,000 to $175,000 for families of up to four, and from $175,000 to $150,000 for the investor and their spouse. The discount is valid through 2021.
As for St Lucia, it launched a temporary investment option named the COVID-19 Bond Relief, encouraging foreign investors to purchase non-interest-bearing government bonds half-price — at the amount of $250,000 instead of the previous $500,000. This option was initially available until the end of 2020, but due to its popularity, it has been extended until 31 December 2021.
Despite the fact these offers have been prolonged until the end of this year, it is still unknown if they would remain in 2022. Though there is hope for further deadline extensions, the probability that the discounts and special terms would be discontinued cannot be ruled out.
While the situation around the time-limited offers of the Caribbean countries is unclear, the future of some European RCBI programs is already determined: for instance, the Golden Visa of Portugal, currently the most popular residency by investment program in the world, will be significantly restricted from the next year. The major changes will affect its real estate investment option. From 1 January 2022, the purchase of residential properties in Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas of the country will be banned for the Golden Visa applicants, and the prices for properties in other locations are expected to skyrocket. Moreover, the investment minimums of the other options under the Golden Visa program will also rise substantially.
Below are the changes related to the investments under the Golden Visa program of Portugal.
As regards the Montenegrin citizenship by investment program, it is valid only until 31 December 2021 and then will be closed without further renewal. With its low investment thresholds and soon-to-come EU membership, Montenegro grants investors highly affordable second passports with concomitant freedom of movement within the Schengen Area and the possibility to obtain EU citizenship in several years. Thus, the closure of the program will seriously narrow down the choice of available RCBI European destinations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, citizenship and residency by investment have gained immense popularity: many people facing quarantine requirements, border closures, and numerous travel restrictions have re-evaluated their priorities and started seeking second passports and residence permits of other states in order to restore and even expand their mobility. Besides having the benefit of choosing where to live and work, RCBI provide a number of other privileges for qualifying investors. Among them is visa-free travel to most countries of the world, tax incentives, greater opportunities for operating a business, access to high-quality education and healthcare, not to mention more security with a “Plan B” in case of political upheaval or economic turmoil.
In light of the forthcoming changes and shutdowns, and taking into consideration that an average application takes around 1,5 months to prepare for submission, there are only a few weeks left to take advantage of the special prices offered by the Caribbean countries, Portugal, and Montenegro. Do not miss out! Contact us at GLS Private Office, as soon as possible and we will be delighted to answer your questions, provide all possible assistance and customise the most suitable solutions for you.