As geo-political and environmental risks proliferate globally, demand for second residency and investment citizenship programmes continues to outstrip supply in 2019, in the USA and Canada, in particular.
While pricing on the world’s top-tier programmes remains a barrier to entry, the proliferation of more affordable CIP and RIP programmes has led to an unintended and very fortuitous consequence for investors: entirely legitimate “loopholes” through which access to top-tier countries can be obtained for a fraction of the price of their formal investment residency programmes.
Nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in its relationship to the US E-2 Treaty program, which allows investors holding citizenships from signatory countries to legally reside in the US and circumvent the multi-year waitlists for EB-5.
Below are the four citizenship by investment programs investors are now discovering as a means to finally fulfill their American dream.
#1 – The Turkey CIP
The US EB-5, Quebec IIP and Portuguese Golden Visa have historically been highly popular amongst investors hailing from China, Russia and the GCC countries. However, the arrival of the reduced-price Turkish CIP has been a game-changer in several respects:
With a short-term (three-year) property investment requirement of only $250,000, Turkey’s offer of actual citizenship trumps many other second residency and citizenship programmes in terms of speed, value, simplicity, and affordability – primary applicants are issued passports in as little as six months.
The programme offers one of the easiest and most affordable paths into the USA. Turkish citizens are eligible to apply for the USA E-2 Investor visa, thanks to the commerce and navigation treaties in place between the two countries.
Unlike with the EB-5 visa programme, which will require a minimum investment of $900,000 as of 21 November 2019, there is no minimum prescribed investment amount for the E-2 programme.
And while the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, it does allow the investor, their spouse, and children to live in the US long term, as it is valid for five years and renewable in two-year increments, provided that the programme requirements are still met.
Turkish citizens can also gain access to the UK by applying for a Turkish Businessperson Visa. Under the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA), also known as the Ankara Agreement, Turkish citizens can apply for a UK visa on the basis of viable self-employment, or by joining an existing business in the UK as a worker.
As an added bonus, Turkish citizens are also eligible for the US E-1 Visa Programme, which enables Turkish citizens to gain access to the US for the purpose of conducting inter-country trade.
Note: The E1 and E2 Treaty Visas are two of the most popular visa classes for those seeking to do business or invest in the USA. E1 is for non-immigrant traders, and E2 for non–immigrant investors.
Under the E-2 programme, you can live, work, bring your spouse, children, and even certain employees, provided they are entering the country for the purposes of trade or to manage the business, with the intention to leave the USA should they no longer meet the programme criteria.
The E2 is renewable every 5 years, so while it does not grant the visa holder formal permanent residence, for all practical intents and purposes, it can serve as a viable legal basis upon which to reside in the USA.
#2 – The Grenada CIP
Similar to the Turkish CIP, Grenada’s CIP enables foreign investors to obtain citizenship by investing $220,000 in real estate for a period of five years. The Grenadian passport affords the bearer visa-free access to 143 countries, including the UK, Ireland, all of the EU countries, as well as Russia and the Commonwealth Nations.
In addition, Grenadian citizens are eligible to apply for the E-2 Investor Visa as well, making this an excellent hack option for those not willing to invest the time and money required to obtain EB-5 residency in the US.
Given Grenada’s pricing, stability, passport power, and the looming EB-5 price increase, it is likely that more investors and business professionals with American ambitions will consider Grenada’s CIP more favourably in 2020 and beyond.
#3 – The Montenegro CIP
Under Montenegro’s newly launched CIP, third-country investors can obtain citizenship by making a non-refundable government fund donation of €100,000 combined with buying a property worth no less than €250,000 (in the north of Montenegro) and €450,000 (in the south).
While Montenegro is somewhat more expensive than Turkey and Grenada, it offers substantially more from in the form of location, lifestyle appeal, US E-2 visa eligibility and the real possibility of EU accession.
So while the Montenegro CIP’s easy US access benefit may appeal to investors today, the prospect of medium-term EU accession will undoubtedly count in its favour as well going forward.
#4 – The Moldova CIP
Note: The Moldova CIP is currently on a moratorium that will last, at least, until December, upon which it will presumably re-open for applications.
If speed and low total cost are key considerations, few CIPs can compete with Moldova – and none in the EU.A non-refundable government contribution of €100,000 will qualify a single applicant for Moldovan citizenship, with passports issued in 3 to 4 months. For additional contributions, spouses and children under 29 can also be included in the application, and the entire family’s application can be processed in under 4 months.
Again, US access comes in the form of E-2 eligibility, making this an incredibly attractive value option that’s simple and straightforward to obtain.
Andre Bothma is a Cape Town based RCBI marketing and branding professional. Bothma is the Managing Director of a leading South African travel marketing firm and serves as a consultant to citizenship planning firms seeking to maximise their reach online. He holds an honours degree from Rhodes University and serves as the Africa correspondent for IMI Daily.