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An Introduction to Residency by Investment

What does residency mean?

Residency is having the legal permission to reside in a country. 

Some residency permits allow you to reside and work in a country, while others only enable you to live in a country without the legal right to employment or entrepreneurship. Another major distinction between residency permits is whether they are temporary or permanent in nature. 

Temporary residence permits

Most of these residency permits are issued with time limitations. Work permits can be granted to employees to come and work in a foreign country, while study permits can be issued to students engaging in education abroad. 

Seasonal permits can be issued to farmers or fair performers. At the same time, retirees can obtain a residence permit that allows them to spend their time in a certain country without actively engaging in employment or profitable practices.

The common denominator of these permits is that they eventually expire, and a person must renew them to remain in the country. The renewal of these permits is tied to the purpose they serve. A work permit, for instance, won't be renewed unless the person holding the permit still has a job in the country. 

Temporary permits also come with some limitations. For example, a temporary resident may not be able to obtain free health insurance or set up their own company as a citizen would. They may also require higher physical residence requirements to be renewed, as temporary residents might need to spend six months per year to renew their residence permits. 

Other countries, such as the US, may limit the number of times a person can leave the country on a residence permit. For example, some residence permits in the US are labelled as "single entry", meaning if a person leaves the US while on that residency permit, then it would be automatically cancelled. 

Temporary residence cards do not lead directly to citizenship, but they can lead to permanent residence

 

Permanent residence permits

The second type of residency permits are permanent residency cards, which offer more comprehensive rights to their owners. In most countries, permanent residency gives its holders the same rights that citizens of that country have except political rights, such as voting or running for office.

Permanent residency permits also have expiry dates, but their renewal is only tied to physical residence in a country. 

So, for example, if someone has a permanent residence permit, they can undertake employment or entrepreneurship, but if they terminate their activity, they can still renew their permanent residency cards if they have spent the required amount of time living in the country.

Every country has a different legal structure, but the norm is that permanent residency can lead to citizenship through naturalization: a process in which if a person lives long enough in a country on a permanent resident card, they can usually apply for citizenship. 

As part of a citizenship application, some countries require an individual to learn another language to a certain minimal level. Additionally, some countries do not legally permit dual citizenship. It is critical that individuals work with experienced advisors to navigate these complex legal structures. 

Why do people consider a second residency?

Getting a residency in a foreign country comes with numerous benefits. Some of the major benefits of getting a second residency are:

Living in a foreign country 

Those looking to immigrate to another country need to do so as citizens or residents. If a person is not a citizen, then they must apply for residency to be able to live, work, study within that country.

Safety and security

Having a second home is a great contingency plan for a person to mitigate social, political or economic instability within their country of origin. If anything goes wrong, then they can just move to another country with their residence card.

Investment or business opportunities

Getting a residence within an economically strong country such as the UK, USA, Canada or any EU nation can provide investment opportunities as conducting business within these markets is desirable and having a residency means a person can actively manage their business instead of  relying on travel visas or local partners.

Greater global mobility

Getting a residence permit in an EU Schegen country will allow a person the ability to travel visa-free throughout the entire EU Schengen Zone, greatly enhancing their global mobility. 

Education and employment opportunities

Some people look to get a residency in countries with a top tier education system and a growing job market to ensure their children can get the best education and employment opportunities possible. This is especially important for people who live in countries where education is falling behind the global standard and unemployment is on the rise. 

Reuniting with family

In some cases, a family member will obtain a second citizenship or residency and will live abroad. For example, foreign university students get a valid study visa allowing them to pursue education abroad. The parents of a student often obtain a second residency in order to make visits much simpler and more frequent without having to apply for travel visas every time they want to check up on their child. 

Retirement

Many retirees look abroad for a place to spend their free time. A retiree's home country may suffer from high inflation, lack of activities, bad weather, or otherwise. By getting a residence in another country, retirees can find a second home that fits their needs, budget, objectives, and more. 

Taxation reasons

People who live in countries with high taxes may look to move their tax residence to somewhere else. Most countries consider a person a tax resident if they live in the country for over 183 days each year. By dividing that year amongst two or more countries, then a person could alleviate their tax burden and be able to choose a taxation system that suits them best. 

How can I get a second residency?

Getting residency in another country  is based on that specific country's immigration laws. Here are some common routes most countries abide by for obtaining residency:

  • Family sponsorship - if a first-degree family member (parents, spouse, child) is a resident or citizen of a foreign country, they may be able to sponsor their family members for residency cards. 
  • Marriage - A person can usually obtain residency of a country if they marry a citizen and their spouse sponsors them for a residence card.
  • Business - Most countries grant entrepreneurs who set up and run businesses within their borders a residence permit. However, rules and conditions differ from one country to the other. This is commonly known as entrepreneur migration. 
  • Study - Students can apply for study visas, which are temporary resident permits if they wish to study in a foreign country. Some countries such as Canada or The Netherlands even grant students a grace period after they finish studying to look for employment in order to switch their student visa to a work permit. 
  • Taxation - Some countries offer residence permits to those who agree to adhere to a specific tax regime. Switzerland, for example, has a "lump sum taxation" route for interested immigrants under which they grant people residence permits if they agree to pay a certain rate of annual tax. Anguilla has a similar structure where tax residency can be achieved through paying an annual sum for at least five consecutive years. 
  • Financial independence - Some countries such as Greece or Costa Rica have financial independent residency permits, which are popular among retirees. People who can prove they have a certain amount of income, do not work, and do not need any public funds can obtain a residence permit.
  • Investment activityGaining Residency by Investment is the simplest route to acquiring a second residency. Many countries offer residency within their borders in exchange for a qualified investment into their economy. There are additional key requirements, such as having a clean criminal background, but this is the fastest route to obtaining a residence permit. 

Residency by Investment

The easiest route to obtaining a second residency comes through investing in a country's economy. Many countries offer Residency by Investment programmes, more commonly dubbed as Golden Visas, and each one has its own specific investment requirements and regulations. The most common types of investment are:

Real Estate - Various countries grant a person and their family members with residency cards if they rent and/or purchase a property for a certain value within the country. Some countries allow a person to sell the property after obtaining permanent residency, while others require applicants to maintain ownership of the property to maintain their residence permit. Real estate is a fantastic option for those looking for a tangible asset with low risk. Portugal and Greece are two of the world’s most popular programmes which allow one to qualify via a real estate purchase.

Bonds/Stocks/Loan Capital - Some countries allow an applicant to invest in securities to obtain their residency. Investment funds, loan capital, and even investing in company stocks can grant a person and their family members with a residence card. This is a great option for those looking for a return on investment and a simpler exit strategy from their investment. The United Kingdom offers such a programme which is known as the Tier 1. 

Business/Job Creation - Another route to obtaining a residency card is establishing a business in a country. Many countries, however, require applicants to establish a business within a certain set of terms to be eligible for residency, while others require applicants to create a certain amount of jobs through their business to become residents. This is a great option for those already looking to expand their business overseas.

Bank deposit - A few countries grant foreigners who make and maintain a bank deposit for a certain amount with residency cards. 

The requirements of Residency by Investment

Each country has its specific requirements when it comes to Residency by Investment, but there are a few core requirements that applicants must meet:

  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Make a qualified investment.
  • Submit a complete application. 
  • Maintain investment for a specific amount of time to maintain residency.
  • Abide by the country's laws and regulations.

 

Greece
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Greece

Home to one of the original Golden Visas, the Greek Residency by Investment programme is one of the most popular worldwide, with over 9,000 applications approved and 27,499 visas issued since its inception in 2013.

The simplicity of the Greek Golden Visa is one of its main attractions, as all applicants must do to get a visa is choose one of the following investments:

Find out more
  • Purchase real estate for EUR 250,000 
  • Establish and maintain a business for no less than EUR 250,000 
  • Make a EUR 400,000 investment in Greek government bonds or an authorized private fund

While Greece offers three options, real estate is the only one with significant volume. Successful applicants receive a Golden Visa, which is renewable every five years if they maintain their investment. There is no physical requirement to renew the visa.

Ireland
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Ireland

Ireland is a unique destination as it is the only country from the EU that maintains free travel with the UK through its Common Travel Area agreement. It is also considered a tax-friendly country and has a great infrastructure.

Ireland's Residency by Investment programme is named the Immigrant Investor programme (IIP), and requires applicants to invest in one of the following four options:

Find out more
  • Investment of EUR 1,000,000 in an Irish enterprise which is the most popular option as 81% of all applicants choose it
  • Invest EUR 1,000,000 in venture or investment funds 
  • Investment of EUR 2,000,000 in Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
  • A EUR 500,000 philanthropic donation to a project which is of public benefit to the arts, sports, health, culture, or education in Ireland.

Successful applicants will receive a temporary residency which can be renewed indefinitely if they spend at least one day a year in Ireland.

Malta
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Malta

The Maltese Permanent Residency Programme is extremely popular amongst the world's HNWIs. The programme recently underwent changes and now requires applicants wishing to get a Maltese permanent residency to invest in a hybrid investment made up of real estate, donation, and administration fees as follows:

Find out more
  • Real estate investment:
    • Purchase real estate in the amount of EUR 300,000 in the South of Malta/Gozo or EUR 350,000 in the rest of Malta; OR
    • Rent a property for a minimum of EUR 10,000 annually in the South of Malta/Gozo or EUR 12,000 in the rest of Malta
  • Pay a government contribution of EUR 28,000 if purchasing a property or EUR 58,000 if leasing a property
  • Pay an administrative fee of EUR 40,000 
  • Make a donation of EUR 2,000 to an NGO

Successful applicants will receive a Maltese permanent residency which is perpetually renewable as long as they maintain an address in Malta.

Portugal
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Portugal

Portugal's Golden Visa is one of the most popular Residency by Investment programmes due to its simplicity, affordability and because it offers a flexible path towards citizenship.

Those that obtain a Portuguese golden visa only need to reside seven days per year for five years and have basic understanding (A2 level) of the Portuguese language before they can apply for Portuguese citizenship. The Residency by Investment programme offers a multitude of investment options to choose from, some of which will undergo changes in 2022, which are:

Find out more
  • Purchase property for EUR 500,000 in designated areas, the most popular choice with 84% of applications under this investment route.
  • Purchase renovated and rehabilitated property in a designated area for EUR 350,000; this option may be eligible for a 20% discount if the property is in a low-density area (no changes in 2022)
  • Capital investment transfer in the amount of EUR 1 million (1.5 million in 2022)
  • Investing EUR 350,000 in investment funds (500,000 in 2022)
  • Creation of 10 jobs through EUR 350,000 investment (500,000 in 2022)
  • Invest EUR 350,000 in research & development activities (500,000 in 2022)
  • Capital transfer of EUR 250,000 in supporting artistic output or developing national heritage (no change in 2022).

The Portuguese Golden Visa remains a highly popular choice, as over 26,500 people have obtained the visa since the programme's inception in 2014. 

 

United Kingdom
uk_banner.jpg
United Kingdom

The UK Innovator Visa is an increasingly popular Residency by Investment programme that requires an applicant to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea. The applicant needs to show that the business has satisfied two out of the following seven criteria:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business
  • Business customers have at least doubled within the most recent three years 
  • Business is engaged in significant research and development activity and applied for IP protection in the UK
  • The business has generated a minimum of £500,000 in the last full year
  • The business has created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs 
  • The business has created at least 5 full-time jobs with an average salary of at least £25,000

A UK ILR is a permanent residency that can lead to citizenship, but the ILR by itself grants its holder comprehensive rights. The residence permit requirements are simple, and getting a permanent residency requires holding the investment amount and spending at least six months a year until the permanent residence is acquired.

Find out more

Alternatively, for active investors, the UK Innovator Visa is an increasingly popular Residency by Investment programme that requires an applicant to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea. The applicant needs to show that the business has satisfied two out of the following seven criteria:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business
  • Business customers have at least doubled within the most recent three years 
  • Business is engaged in significant research and development activity and applied for IP protection in the UK
  • The business has generated a minimum of £500,000 in the last full year
  • The business has created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs 
  • The business has created at least 5 full-time jobs with an average salary of at least £25,000

A UK ILR is a permanent residency that can lead to citizenship, but the ILR by itself grants its holder comprehensive rights. The residence permit requirements are simple, and getting a permanent residency requires holding the investment amount and spending at least six months a year until the permanent residence is acquired.

United States of America
LATAM_North America.jpg
United States of America

The USA continues to be one of the most popular global destinations for immigration, as many people from all around the world attempt to obtain a US Green Card, which is permanent residence that leads to citizenship.

The USA has a popular Residency by Investment programme known as the EB-5 visa but it currently is on hold while it awaits reauthorization from Congress. The EB-5 programme grants an applicant and their eligible family members with a Green Card which is valid for two years, during which the applicant must meet the investment requirements, which are:

Find out more
  • Invest USD 1.8 million in a venture that will directly create ten jobs
  • Invest USD 900,000 in a venture that will directly create ten jobs in a targeted employment area
  • Invest USD 900,000 in a certified Regional Center

The Regional Center option is the most popular, as Regional Centers will create jobs and manage the investment on the applicant's behalf. 

Greece
greece_banner.jpg

Home to one of the original Golden Visas, the Greek Residency by Investment programme is one of the most popular worldwide, with over 9,000 applications approved and 27,499 visas issued since its inception in 2013.

The simplicity of the Greek Golden Visa is one of its main attractions, as all applicants must do to get a visa is choose one of the following investments:

Find out more
  • Purchase real estate for EUR 250,000 
  • Establish and maintain a business for no less than EUR 250,000 
  • Make a EUR 400,000 investment in Greek government bonds or an authorized private fund

While Greece offers three options, real estate is the only one with significant volume. Successful applicants receive a Golden Visa, which is renewable every five years if they maintain their investment. There is no physical requirement to renew the visa.

Ireland
ireland_banner.jpg

Ireland is a unique destination as it is the only country from the EU that maintains free travel with the UK through its Common Travel Area agreement. It is also considered a tax-friendly country and has a great infrastructure.

Ireland's Residency by Investment programme is named the Immigrant Investor programme (IIP), and requires applicants to invest in one of the following four options:

Find out more
  • Investment of EUR 1,000,000 in an Irish enterprise which is the most popular option as 81% of all applicants choose it
  • Invest EUR 1,000,000 in venture or investment funds 
  • Investment of EUR 2,000,000 in Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
  • A EUR 500,000 philanthropic donation to a project which is of public benefit to the arts, sports, health, culture, or education in Ireland.

Successful applicants will receive a temporary residency which can be renewed indefinitely if they spend at least one day a year in Ireland.

Malta
malta_mod.jpg

The Maltese Permanent Residency Programme is extremely popular amongst the world's HNWIs. The programme recently underwent changes and now requires applicants wishing to get a Maltese permanent residency to invest in a hybrid investment made up of real estate, donation, and administration fees as follows:

Find out more
  • Real estate investment:
    • Purchase real estate in the amount of EUR 300,000 in the South of Malta/Gozo or EUR 350,000 in the rest of Malta; OR
    • Rent a property for a minimum of EUR 10,000 annually in the South of Malta/Gozo or EUR 12,000 in the rest of Malta
  • Pay a government contribution of EUR 28,000 if purchasing a property or EUR 58,000 if leasing a property
  • Pay an administrative fee of EUR 40,000 
  • Make a donation of EUR 2,000 to an NGO

Successful applicants will receive a Maltese permanent residency which is perpetually renewable as long as they maintain an address in Malta.

Portugal
portugal_banner.jpg

Portugal's Golden Visa is one of the most popular Residency by Investment programmes due to its simplicity, affordability and because it offers a flexible path towards citizenship.

Those that obtain a Portuguese golden visa only need to reside seven days per year for five years and have basic understanding (A2 level) of the Portuguese language before they can apply for Portuguese citizenship. The Residency by Investment programme offers a multitude of investment options to choose from, some of which will undergo changes in 2022, which are:

Find out more
  • Purchase property for EUR 500,000 in designated areas, the most popular choice with 84% of applications under this investment route.
  • Purchase renovated and rehabilitated property in a designated area for EUR 350,000; this option may be eligible for a 20% discount if the property is in a low-density area (no changes in 2022)
  • Capital investment transfer in the amount of EUR 1 million (1.5 million in 2022)
  • Investing EUR 350,000 in investment funds (500,000 in 2022)
  • Creation of 10 jobs through EUR 350,000 investment (500,000 in 2022)
  • Invest EUR 350,000 in research & development activities (500,000 in 2022)
  • Capital transfer of EUR 250,000 in supporting artistic output or developing national heritage (no change in 2022).

The Portuguese Golden Visa remains a highly popular choice, as over 26,500 people have obtained the visa since the programme's inception in 2014. 

 

United Kingdom
uk_banner.jpg

The UK Innovator Visa is an increasingly popular Residency by Investment programme that requires an applicant to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea. The applicant needs to show that the business has satisfied two out of the following seven criteria:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business
  • Business customers have at least doubled within the most recent three years 
  • Business is engaged in significant research and development activity and applied for IP protection in the UK
  • The business has generated a minimum of £500,000 in the last full year
  • The business has created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs 
  • The business has created at least 5 full-time jobs with an average salary of at least £25,000

A UK ILR is a permanent residency that can lead to citizenship, but the ILR by itself grants its holder comprehensive rights. The residence permit requirements are simple, and getting a permanent residency requires holding the investment amount and spending at least six months a year until the permanent residence is acquired.

Find out more

Alternatively, for active investors, the UK Innovator Visa is an increasingly popular Residency by Investment programme that requires an applicant to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea. The applicant needs to show that the business has satisfied two out of the following seven criteria:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business
  • Business customers have at least doubled within the most recent three years 
  • Business is engaged in significant research and development activity and applied for IP protection in the UK
  • The business has generated a minimum of £500,000 in the last full year
  • The business has created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs 
  • The business has created at least 5 full-time jobs with an average salary of at least £25,000

A UK ILR is a permanent residency that can lead to citizenship, but the ILR by itself grants its holder comprehensive rights. The residence permit requirements are simple, and getting a permanent residency requires holding the investment amount and spending at least six months a year until the permanent residence is acquired.

United States of America
LATAM_North America.jpg

The USA continues to be one of the most popular global destinations for immigration, as many people from all around the world attempt to obtain a US Green Card, which is permanent residence that leads to citizenship.

The USA has a popular Residency by Investment programme known as the EB-5 visa but it currently is on hold while it awaits reauthorization from Congress. The EB-5 programme grants an applicant and their eligible family members with a Green Card which is valid for two years, during which the applicant must meet the investment requirements, which are:

Find out more
  • Invest USD 1.8 million in a venture that will directly create ten jobs
  • Invest USD 900,000 in a venture that will directly create ten jobs in a targeted employment area
  • Invest USD 900,000 in a certified Regional Center

The Regional Center option is the most popular, as Regional Centers will create jobs and manage the investment on the applicant's behalf.