Henley & Partners has published a global rating of citizenship-by-investment. The list, in which Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria feature in the top three, includes programmes from 13 countries.
The main difference between programmess offering a residence permit through investment is that countries most often do not require investors to permanently reside in their territory, or impose small requirements for visiting. Programmes offering a European residence permit through the purchase of real estate are very popular among foreign investors. Particularly popular are the programmes of Portugal, Greece, Spain, Latvia, and Cyprus.
Other countries provide the opportunity to reside in their territory, obtain a residence permit and become a tax resident under certain conditions. Such countries – among them Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom – strictly require the fulfilment of accommodation regulations by programme participants. Wealthy investors often choose the UK programme, mainly because of the desire to live in the country, interest in London real estate, and the quality education for children. Switzerland offers a residence permit through the payment of an annual fixed tax, which is suitable for financially independent people who want to move to the country. In 2017, Italy created a programme that offers a special tax regime for new residents.
Each programme has a different time frame for considering applications that ranges from several weeks to several years – something that is important to consider when considering a programme. It is also necessary to determine in advance whether the investor wants (and how quickly) to obtain citizenship in the future. It is therefore very important to study the conditions a programme requires for granting citizenship. Where citizenship of Portugal or the UK can be obtained five years after obtaining a residence permit, in other countries, such as Switzerland and Spain, this is only possible after 10 years.
- A residence permit can either be temporary or permanent. Temporary residence permits must be renewed depending on the requirements of the government.
- A residence permit makes it possible to visit, temporarily reside or permanently reside in the country issuing the permit, as well as in countries where special agreements have been made with the issuing country.
- A residence permit is suitable for those who cannot or do not want to obtain citizenship of another state.
- A residence permit does not require renunciation of native citizenship.
To determine the position of programmes in the ranking, Henley & Partners used the following indicators: reputation, quality of life, taxation, visa-free entry to other countries, the term for considering an application and the quality of information processing, compliance, investment requirements, general expenses, terms of obtaining citizenship and requirements for obtaining citizenship.