A History of Citizenship by Investment
The infographic, originally published in June 2017, has been updated several times, most recently in May 2022 to include a number of historical, semi-formal CIPs from the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to reflect the most recent changes among European and African CIPs.
Tonga Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Initially selling only Tongan Protected Person Passports (TPPP), the King of Tonga authorizes the sale of full-fledged citizenships in 1983. Among the first customers is ousted Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and family.
Saint Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Saint Kitts & Nevis opens the CIP just one year after gaining independence. For the next 20 years, the program lays virtually dormant, only issuing a few hundred passports.
The Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program Opens
The BECIP starts by offering citizenship in exchange for a US$40,000 investment. Throughout the 1990s the program remains the cheapest CIP - by far - in the Caribbean.
The Marshall Islands Citizenship Investment Program Opens
In obscurity, the Marshall Islands begin selling citizenships at the official price of US$100,000. Years later, following the program's termination, the Attorney General finds that many citizenships have been sold for far less.
Irish Economic Citizenship Program opens
Between 1988 and 1998, Ireland issues approximately 150 passports to applicants investing a minimum of £1 million in the country for the purpose of job creation or job maintenance.
Samoa Citizenship by Investment "Program" opens
In a highly irregular scheme that involved the unofficial sale of citizenships, passports, and even diplomatic passports, Samoan officials sold an estimated 2,200 passports over a six-year period for an average price (prices varied widely) of US$11,000.
Peru Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Aiming to attract sorely needed investment, particularly from Hong Kong, Peru amends its constitution to enable the sale of citizenships for US$25,000 apiece, subjecting applicants to strict screening.
Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program opens
While initially successful, the program essentially grinds to a halt in the late 90s following a series of inauspicious events - including failed property developments and loss of visa-free access to Canada - but regains momentum a decade later.
Peru Citizenship by Investment Program closes
Following public outcry and the issuance of just 12 citizenships to investors, Peru closes its citizenship by investment program less than a year after opening.
Grenada Economic Citizenship Programme opens
Despite facing strong political opposition, the first Mitchell administration launches what it calls an "Honorary Citizenship Programme", offering citizenships for just $40,000.
Cambodia Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Cambodia changes its nationality law to allow for dual citizenship, as well as for the immediate naturalization of individuals who donate or invest, with minimums starting at about US$250,000.
Tonga Citizenship by Investment Program closes
Though the country's opposition was able to repeal the CBI Act as early as in 1988, the King of Tonga continued selling citizenships for another eight years, before finally ending the practice in 1996.
The Marshall Islands Citizenship by Investment Program closes
After selling some 2,000 passports over almost a decade, mainly to Chinese nationals, the Marshall Islands closes its program following repeated pressure from the US government.
Samoa ends sale of passports
Following a series of scandals revealed in the press, including the imprisonment of immigration officials and the suspicious death of a senior immigration official, Samoa discontinues the sale of passports.
Nauru Economic Citizenship Program opens
Despite vehement protestations from Australian officials, Nauru begins selling "economic citizenship" to individuals, chiefly from Hong Kong, who pay US$15-50,000 to the government's official agent, a Washington DC-based company.
Irish Economic Citizenship Program closes
Amid a political controversy involving the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a group of Saudi and Pakistani investors, Ireland abolishes its program after 10 years of operation.
Grenada Economic Citizenship Program closes
Following the collapse of the country's largest offshore bank, concerns about due diligence standards and pressure from the US and Canada, the Grenada ECP is discontinued.
Comoros Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Citizenship by investment becomes officially legal as part of Comoros' nationality law. Between 2006 and 2011, the country sells some 48,000 at wholesale prices, paid for by UAE and Kuwait on the behalf of its stateless residents.
Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program Closes
Following American security concerns in the wake of 9/11, as well as criticism in relation to the program's management, Belize suspends the BECIP in March 2002.
Nauru Citizenship by Investment Program closes
US officials, citing (legitimate) concerns that a number of terrorists had obtained Nauruan passports, pressure Nauru's president to end the sale of citizenships. The president signs an executive order to that effect, while on his deathbed in a New York hospital.
Saint Kitts & Nevis CIP relaunches
The Kittitian government revitalizes its program by introducing a streamlined path to citizenship in three months: a choice between a property investment or a donation, a design that goes on to become the model for subsequent CIPs.
Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program opens
A critical milestone for the industry is reached as the first EU member state introduces a CIP. Granting far more extensive settlement and travel privileges, Cyprus enters the market at a price point an order of magnitude above its Caribbean cousins.
Grenada reopens under a new name
Rebranded as the Individual Investor Program, the Grenadian CIP is revived. The program's second iteration has due diligence practices and prices more in line with its Caribbean neighbors.
Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Adopting the model pioneered by Saint Kitts & Nevis seven years earlier, the Antiguan programme quickly takes a big share of the Caribbean market and becomes the only CIP with visa-free travel to Canada, a privilege it later loses.
Malta Individual Investor Program opens
With official endorsement from the European Commission, four-tiered due diligence, and more visa-free access than any other programme, the Malta IIP quickly becomes the gold standard for CIPs.
Vanuatu opens first of several Citizenship by Investment Programmes
While informal CIPs of a questionable legal basis have existed in various guises in Vanuatu since 1990s, the first formal such program to open in Vanuatu is the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP), in 2014.
Several similar programs (such as the VERP and the REOP) were opened and later closed/replaced. As of August 2018, Vanuatu has two citizenship by investment programs: The VCP and the DSP.
Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program opens
The 5th Caribbean state to open a CIP, the Saint Lucian programme builds on the by now established Caribbean template but is the first in the region to include a government bond investment option.
Turkey Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Initially launching with a US$ 1 million real estate investment requirement, Turkey later cuts the asking price to US$250,000 and its CIP quickly becomes the world's most popular.
Jordan Citizenship by Investment Program opens
When Jordan makes a surprise announcement in February 2018 that it has already started accepting applications for its CIP - which starts at US$1 million, a steep price for a passport that doesn't have Schengen-access - few industry observers expect application numbers to amount to much. The program, however, defies expectations by receiving more than 100 applications in the first six months.
Moldova Citizenship by Investment Program opens
During the summer of 2018, Moldovan authorities announce they will be formally opening a CIP in October, with a soft launch in August. The price will start at EUR 100,000.
Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Just two weeks after Moldova, Montenegrin authorities announce that they too will open their long-awaited CIP by October. Minimum investment requirements will start at EUR 350,000.
Egypt Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Egypt formally opens its citizenship by investment program with a minimum investment requirement of US$250,000.
Cyprus closes its Citizenship by Investment Program
Following a widely publicized scandal involving high-ranking officials appearing willing to bend the rules for plainly unqualified applicants, the Cypriot government abruptly announces the program's closure.
Malta's IIP expires and is replaced by the MEIN policy
As the MIIP reaches its 1,800-application cap, Malta's government introduces a replacement - The Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization policy - which, for political reasons, it studiously avoids referring to as a "program".
North Macedonia Citizenship by Investment Program opens
North Macedonia first began offering citizenship by investment at EUR 400,000 in 2016, but only on a discretionary basis. In 2021, a group of private companies work with the government to launch a more formalized EUR 200,000 donation-based CIP. A year after launch, however, the government has yet to approve any applications, raising serious questions about the program.
North Macedonia Citizenship by Investment Program opens
Nearly two years after first launching, the North Macedonian has yet to approve any citizenship applications. Private sector agents consider the program closed.