Property Investors: benefits of having residency or citizenship in another country

South African investors have the opportunity to obtain residency or citizenship in another country without having to emigrate, or having ancestral ties to that country by making use of a residency or citizenship through investment programme, says James Bowling, CEO of Monarch & Co, a company that specialises in investor and immigration programmes around the world.
He notes that for investors to qualify for the programme they have to meet certain requirements.  Such requirements typically include investing in either a business venture or purchasing a property within the country of choice. He says that a driving factor for many investors is the numerous benefits they may acquire from purchasing real estate through a residency or citizenship programme, particularly in countries within the European Union (EU).  “Investors are eligible, through many of these programmes, to enjoy all the advantages of becoming an EU resident or citizen including freedom of travel, ability to study, work or live in any other EU member country and access to some of the world’s best health and education facilities. Investors currently have a wide variety of countries to choose from that offer residency and citizenship programmes with St Kitts & Nevis, Mauritius, Malta, Greece, the USA, Portugal, the UK and Cyprus among the most popular choices.”
Bowling says that by obtaining citizenship in another country, the investor becomes a citizen of that country, which entitles them to carry that country’s passport.  This is a major benefit as the investor will be able to keep their existing citizenship and passport and thus the new passport becomes their second passport. “South African citizens who have dual citizenship and hold foreign passports are able to utilise their second passports while travelling abroad, which allows them to avoid many of the visa restrictions in place for a South African passport holder,” says Bowling.

“In countries such as Seychelles and Mauritius, South Africans receive visas free of charge on entry, entitling them to three months’ residency in a calendar year. However, European Union (EU) countries have far stricter visa requirements for South Africans. In most cases, investors must go in person to the representative consulate – which is often in Pretoria – to apply and pay for a visa. For non-EU passport holders, the advantage of having residency in Malta, Portugal or Cyprus is that it comes with a long-term Schengen visa, which allows entry into most other EU countries, including the UK.

According to Bowling, aside from the travel benefits that a residency or citizenship programme offers, an international property investment is a great way for investors to diversify their portfolios and spread their risk, provided the necessary considerations are taken into account. “Investing in property in another country will also act as a currency hedge against the fall in value of the rand, with investors having the potential to earn capital growth in a foreign currency. High tourism interest coupled with low-tax benefits also makes purchasing property in these jurisdictions a very sound investment,” says Bowling. “In addition, owning an international property provides the opportunity to earn an attractive annual yield from renting out the property and could provide those with the desire for a change of lifestyle the ideal getaway, particularly upon retirement.”
Bowling notes another advantage that dual citizenship provides is the ease of relocation for business purposes. “As a citizen of the country, the investor will not have any restrictions with regard to their work or business operations and dealings. Also many of the countries in the citizenship programmes have taken steps to unlock their economic growth by developing themselves as financial service centres through the creation of a low tax jurisdiction, thereby making it attractive for individuals and corporates to make the country their new tax domicile,” explains Bowling. “The low-tax benefits and ease of travel between member states of the EU make these countries ideal business locations.”
He concludes by saying that a residency or citizenship programme can provide investors with lifestyle security and the assurance that they have easy access to the majority of countries within the European Union.

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