Presented by Sable International

Demystifying citizenship by investment – your FAQs answered

Sable International answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the investment migration process as a route to international optionality.

Please bear in mind that requirements may vary from country to country and only general questions are addressed below.

What is investment migration?

Residency-by-investment (RBI) and citizenship-by-investment (CBI) are names given to a number of programmes offered by governments around the world that allow you, as a foreign national, to obtain citizenship or residency in a country in exchange for a significant investment in that country’s economy.

These programmes are often pursued by individuals and families who wish to increase their global mobility, expand their business opportunities or enjoy certain lifestyle benefits associated with another country.

How much does residency- or citizenship-by-investment cost?

The minimum investment sums vary greatly between investment migration programmes, and programmes of this nature will usually require the investor to have available and liquid funds of at least R5,200,000.

Just having the investment amount is not always enough, as some programmes require you to also meet a minimum net worth. For example, on paper, Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP) seems to be one of the cheapest residency by investment options, starting at €100,000, but you need to have a net wealth of €500,000 to be eligible.

When considering investment migration, it’s also important to understand the total cost of the investment process.

While developers will inform you of the cost of the investment, they may not disclose all associated costs which include submission, approval, due diligence, application fees, as well as processing fees.

Working with a reputable company that offers transparency and discloses all costs involved will allow you to look at the bigger picture.

At Sable International, we are here to help you identify a suitable investment, to hold your hand throughout the process, to guide you in terms of the documentation required for the application, to prepare the application for you, to work with qualified attorneys and submission agents to file your application on your behalf and to give you peace of mind at all times along the way.

Can I include my family on my residency- or citizenship-by-investment application?

Many programmes permit you to bring dependants such as your spouse and children. Some even allow you to include unmarried siblings and parents, although there may be additional prerequisites such as demonstrating financial dependency.

Each country has different requirements and different investment options and your circumstances will dictate what programmes are suitable for you and your family.

For example, if you want to include older adult dependent children and your mother-in-law, you may wish to consider the Malta options or Grenada programme.

At the age of 24, adult dependent children “fall off” the Greek Golden Visa, but the programme also allows a parent to be the financial sponsor of an adult child so that an investment can be made in the name of the child, with parents then added to the same application. This ensures that all family members can continue to enjoy the benefits even after the child has turned 24.

How much time will I need to spend in the country?

The minimum stay can be crucial in determining which programme you want to invest in. If you know you don’t want to move or travel to your country of investment, a programme with low minimum stay requirements is better for you.

For example, Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) lets you maintain residency indefinitely, provided you visit Ireland once a year for at least a day, for the first five-years (although you would need to relocate to eventually obtain citizenship).

Grenada’s citizenship-by-investment programme, on the other hand, currently allows you to claim citizenship without ever setting foot in the country. 

What is the difference between citizenship and permanent residency?

Citizenship is permanent and grants you rights, privileges and protection within a country and state. It also allows you to apply for a passport and can often be passed down to multiple generations.

Residency, on the other hand, allows you to live in a particular country under certain conditions. Residency can be either temporary or permanent and can sometimes also offer visa-free travel benefits to other countries.

Sometimes permanent residency offers you everything you need and you do not necessarily have to become a citizen. With permanent residency, you usually have the right to live, work, study and retire in that jurisdiction, and that may be all you need.

Securing a second citizenship, on the other hand, comes with numerous benefits, including access to social benefits and services such as world-class healthcare and education, as well as the ability to pass down citizenship, whereas residency rights alone cannot always be directly passed onward to future generations.

What is the difference between immigrant and non-immigrant visas?

An immigrant visa is often called a “Plan A”, while a non-immigrant option is known as a “Plan B”. A Plan B is a contingency option, whereas a Plan A generally means a relocation.

You may seek out a Plan B, for example Grenada’s programme, if you are happy with your lifestyle in the country of your current residence and do not want to make abrupt changes and move.

The Plan B offers you the security of knowing that if something goes wrong where you are now, you can relocate quickly because you have created optionality for yourself and your family.

Plan A, on the other hand, entails a more comprehensive and long-term commitment with a higher financial investment if you want to uproot, create a new reality, and start over in another country.

Almost all first-world English-speaking countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia, still require a physical relocation because the limited investment visas they offer are all immigrant visas.

What kind of timeline am I looking at?

Document processing adds significant time to this kind of investment. On paper, a programme may say that you need five years of temporary residency to obtain permanent residency or citizenship, but in reality, the processing time can be almost twice as long due to delays or backlogs.

Government policies, application complexity, and demand all have an impact on each application. Keep these factors in mind as you plan your journey to internationalise yourself and your family.

This will allow you to make informed decisions and effectively manage your expectations.

Still confused? With over 20 years of experience assisting people with their complex cross-border financial and emigration needs, Sable International can help answer your questions and choose the best investment programme for you and your family tailored to your needs and be with you every step of the way.

Get in touch with an investment migration consultant now at [email protected] or call us on +27 (0) 21 657 1584.


Top JSE indices