Your Golden Ticket: Facts and Myths of Citizenship by Investment Programs

In 2024, citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs are a great chance for those interested in becoming citizens of a country in exchange for significant economic contributions. Designed to attract foreign investment and talent, they at the same time contribute to the nation’s economic growth. While the concept of obtaining citizenship through investment is becoming increasingly popular, many aspects of these schemes remain less known to the general public.

Citizenship-by-investment initiatives in the modern world: facts and misconceptions

For your convenience, International Wealth experts have compiled a collection of some lesser-known facts about CIPs available all over the globe. Would you like to learn them? Ready, steady, go!

  1. Historical roots

So, what you didn’t know about citizenship by investment is that this idea has historical precedents. Ancient civilizations like the one in Rome granted citizenship to those who provided military or other services to the state. Modern CIPs may be seen as a continuation of this tradition, where investment takes the place of military service.

  1. Variety of investment options

CBI programs are not one-size-fits-all. They offer a range of investment options, including real estate, government bonds, business ventures, and donations to national funds. Each country’s CIP is uniquely structured, with specific requirements and benefits that align with its economic goals and priorities.

Some CIPs come with a direct route to citizenship, bypassing the traditional naturalization process that typically requires a lengthy residence period. They often contribute significantly to the host country’s societal advancement, cultural development, or economic growth. For investors, the benefits extend beyond the acquisition of a second passport. They include expanded business opportunities, improved quality of life, asset protection, and access to social services like healthcare and education.

  1. Dual citizenship misconceptions

Contrary to common belief, dual citizenship is not illegal in most countries. Many nations recognize and allow dual or multiple citizenships, and CBI programs are structured with this in mind, providing a legal pathway to a second citizenship.

  1. Not just for the ultra-wealthy

While they do require a significant investment, international CBI initiatives are not exclusively for the ultra-rich. Some programs have more accessible options and offer investment returns, which makes them appealing to a broader range of investors, with successful entrepreneurs and professionals among them.

  1. Rigorous due diligence

Applicants must undergo thorough background checks. CIPs are regulated and involve detailed application procedures to ensure compliance with international laws and standards. The process includes verifying the legitimacy of the applicant’s funds and their character.

These background checks also often include scrutiny of the applicant’s past business dealings, financial history, and any potential legal issues. The process is meticulous and may involve multiple international agencies to ensure that no detail is overlooked and no stone is left unturned. They are by far not a one-time procedure at the point of application. Some countries require ongoing monitoring to ensure that the qualifying individuals maintain the required standards.

  1. Global mobility

One of the most attractive benefits of CBI is the enhanced global mobility it offers. A second passport from a CBI program provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries, making international travel easier and more convenient. This increased mobility leads to a better quality of life, as it opens up opportunities for top-class education, higher living standards, better environmental conditions, and the enjoyment of social and political rights.  For families, it means security and the freedom to choose a lifestyle and education for children that may not be available in their home country.

  1. Economic diversification

CBI programs help countries diversify their economies. By attracting foreign capital, they fund infrastructure projects, support social services, and stimulate economic development in sectors beyond tourism and agriculture.

  1. Cultural exchange

CIPs encourage cultural exchange and diversity. New citizens bring different perspectives and experiences, enriching the cultural fabric of the host country.

  1. Strategic planning

For investors, CBI is often part of strategic planning for business expansion and tax optimization. It is a secure plan B in times of political or economic instability in their home country.

  1. Contribution to social services

Investments made through CIPs often contribute to the host country’s social services, e.g., healthcare and education, benefiting local communities.

  1. Speed of processing

The processing time for CBI applications is relatively short, with some programs offering citizenship within months. This efficiency is a significant draw for investors looking for swift solutions.

  1. Lifetime benefits

Citizenship obtained through investment is typically for life and may be passed down to future generations. This permanence offers long-term security and benefits for the investor’s family.

  1. No physical residency required

Many CBI programs do not require applicants to reside in the country before or after obtaining citizenship, providing flexibility for investors who do not wish to relocate.

  1. Impact on national identity

CBI programs may raise questions about national identity and the value of citizenship. They prompt discussions on the balance between economic benefits and the preservation of cultural heritage.

  1. Philanthropic opportunities

Some investors use CBI as a means to engage in philanthropy, supporting causes and initiatives in the host state that align with their values and interests.

  1. Legal and political debates

CIPs are often subject to legal and political scrutiny. They must comply with complex international laws, including tax regulations and bilateral agreements, and may be points of contention in domestic politics.

  1. Environmental considerations

Oftentimes, CBI programs have environmental implications. Investments in real estate, for example, must consider sustainable development and the impact on local ecosystems.

  1. Security concerns

Security is a paramount concern for CIPs. Hence, their provisions must ensure that citizenship is not granted to those who pose a risk to national or international security.

  1. Evolving regulations

The regulations governing CBI programs are constantly evolving. In 2024, as before, countries adapt their programs in response to global trends, economic conditions, and international pressure.

  1. Exclusive citizenship

Some jurisdictions offer exclusive citizenship options through their CIPs, with unique benefits not available to citizens who acquire nationality through other means.

Complex and multifaceted, CIPs offer multiple perks to both the investor and the host country. In the years to come, they will likely remain a topic of interest and debate as far as immigration, economics, and international relations are concerned.

Would you like to get your piece of this pie but don’t know how to do it? Contact the International Wealth team and benefit from a free consultation on the matter!