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Immigrant investor programs are programs designed to attract foreign capital and business people by providing the right of residence and citizenship in return. These are also known as citizenship-by-investment programs or golden visa. While several countries currently offer investors citizenship or residence in return for an economic investment, the concept is relatively new and was only brought to the focus around 2006.[1][2][3]

Immigrant investor programs usually have multiple criteria that must be fulfilled for the investment to qualify, often pertaining to job creation, purchasing of real estate, non-refundable contributions or specific targeted industries.[4] Most of these programs are structured to ensure that the investment contributes to the welfare, advancement and economic development of the country in which they wish to reside or belong to. It is more often more about making an economic contribution than just an investment.[5] The U.S. EB-5 visa program requires overseas applicants to invest a minimum of anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the location of the project, and requires at least 10 jobs to be either created or preserved.[6] When these criteria are met, the applicant and their family become eligible for a green card. There is an annual cap of 10,000 applications under the EB-5 program.

The Commonwealth of Dominica has been operating one such program since 1993[7], and enables investors to gain Dominican citizenship through either a contribution to Dominica's Economic Diversification Fund or the purchase of an approved project along with a fee.

The Malta Individual Investor Programme,[8] which Henley & Partners was contracted in 2014 by the Government of Malta to design and implement, is similarly capped at 1,800 applicants. Applicants are subject to a thorough due diligence process which guarantees that only reputable applicants acquire Maltese citizenship. Moreover, applications from countries where international sanctions apply may not be accepted. Applications from a particular country can also be excluded on the basis of a Government policy decision.[8] The minimum investment for this program is $870,000 with a non-refundable contribution of $700,000.[4]

A large majority of users of such programs are wealthy Chinese seeking legal security and a better quality of life outside of their home country. More than three-quarters of the applicants to Canada's (since canceled) immigrant investor program were Chinese.[9] Money laundering scandals involving banks in Malta and Latvia have made citizenship schemes more contentious by drawing attention to the lack of controls on Russian funds entering EU countries. [10]

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is a Canadian program which allows investors who intend to settle in the province of Quebec to invest money in Canada. [11] The Quebec government said it would accept a maximum of 1,750 applications to the Immigrant Investor Program during the period of January 5 to 20, 2015. Applicants with an intermediate-advanced aptitude in French are not subject to the cap and may apply at any time.[12][13][14] The program has been associated with the lack of housing affordability in Vancouver.[15]

The countries with the top ranked[by whom?] immigrant investor programs in the world are Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, Austria, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Latvia, Monaco, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Grenada, Abkhazia, Saint Lucia, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dominica.[16][17]

Golden visas represent only a small proportion of new passports. In 2016, 994,800 citizenship applicants were granted across the EU, according to Eurostat, with just 0.1 percent of applications made under investment schemes.[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abrahamian, Atossa Araxia. The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen. Columbia Global Reports. pp. 70–93. ISBN 978-0-9909763-6-3.
  2. ^ Clenfield, Jason. "The Passport King". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  3. ^ "The Man Who Helps Countries Turn Investments Into Passports for the Rich". Skift. 2015-03-12. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  4. ^ a b Kalin, Christian H. (2015). Global Residence and Citizenship Handbook. Ideos Publications. ISBN 978-0992781859.
  5. ^ "How to get a second passport: "Citizenship by investment" is booming -". 2016-06-30. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  6. ^ "EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  7. ^ "Citizenship | Government of St. Kitts & Nevis - Citizenship By Investment Program". Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  8. ^ a b "Individual Investor Programme - Malta". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  9. ^ Cole, Michael. "Canada Slams Door on 45K Chinese Millionaires With End of Visa Program". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  10. ^ "Malta bank was set up with 'criminal proceeds', say prosecutors". Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Quebec Business Immigration". Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  13. ^ "Immigrant Investor Visa Canada & Quebec - Investor Permanent Residency Visa Canada 2016". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  14. ^ "Quebec Immigrant Investor Program". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "25+ Great Investor Visas in the World – Corpocrat Magazine". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  17. ^ Henley & Partners. Global Residence and Citizenship Programs 2016. Ideos Publications. ISBN 978-0992781880.
  18. ^ "EU prepares crackdown on 'citizenships for sale'". Retrieved 2018-08-15.