Over the last seven years alone, the number of formal citizenship by investment programs (CIPs) has grown from two to twelve, a formidable rate of growth. But where is the CIP-market going next? Which countries may be opening citizenship programs in the near future?
I’ve done a quick back-of-the-napkin analysis to find out.
CIP-proliferation is not a foregone conclusion
2018 has been a good year for citizenship by investment, with three new programs (Montenegro, Moldova, and Jordan) and record numbers of applicants worldwide. But the unbridled blossoming of programs that characterized the last five years is by no means typical; the market has had its ups and downs.
While we now have a record twelve programs and the stage looks set for further growth, the market’s previous apogee – in 1996, when the world had five CIPs – was followed by five years of decline,
By 2002, the number of CIPs had reached its first low-water mark; only two programs – Dominica and Saint Kitts & Nevis – remained afloat.
The market then entered a period of stagnation (a CIP “dark age” if you will) and did not truly exit its decade-long spell in the doldrums until 2011 with the Cypriot launch of an EU-country program – the holy grail of CIPs – which marked a turning of the tide.
What comes next?
Last year, I wrote a very popular article in which I went on record with predictions on how the CIP-market would develop over the next ten years, making some qualified guesses as to where new programs might emerge.
I considered the conditions under which the market might flourish, which factors might cause it to wither, and prognosticated that 7-9 new CIPs would open by 2027. Thanks to three new program openings since then – right on track with my predictions – my prophetic bona fides remain intact.
You can read that article here: Future of the Citizenship-by-Investment Market: Predictions for 2027
This year, I am taking a more systematic approach, by determining
In that same article last year, I wrote:
“Not all countries qualify for a program; far from it. As in all markets, there are barriers to entry, and a jurisdiction must meet certain prerequisites even to consider itself a candidate. Chief among them is visa-free access to Schengen, a sine qua non for a CIP.
Among the good-to-have-but-not-strictly-necessary conditions are a common law legal system, English as an official language, political stability, low taxes and an economy small enough for a CIP to have a meaningful impact.”
Roughly speaking, then, a country only needs two characteristics to have CIP-potential:
- It must have visa-free access to Schengen. There are certainly countries without this that still have CIPs – such as Jordan(link) and Turkey (link)- but citizenships in countries are of very limited interest to the global CIP market and are usually granted to individuals who have a particular investment interest in those countries.
- The country’s economy must be small enough. That is, small enough for a CIP to make a difference, economically speaking. Brazil, for instance, is not likely to consider opening a CIP because the half a billion dollars or so the program might raise would constitute 0.025% of their GDP. It’s just not worth the trouble.
With the abovementioned two criteria in mind, I’ve found 33 countries with clear CIP-potential.
Non-EU European countries
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- San Marino
- Marshall Islands
- Solomon Islands
- Timor Leste (East Timor)
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (strong political opposition to CIPs)
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Mauritius (has announced plans to open a CIP, but details are scant)
Did I miss anything? Are there any countries that should be on this list but aren’t, and vice versa? Let me know in the LinkedIn or Facebook comments. And don’t forget to show your appreciation for the hard work I do by liking and sharing this with other RCBI-professionals.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.