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Common FAQs on residency and citizenship programmes answered

Investing in a residency or citizenship programme is a big decision that also requires a substantial financial investment. 

“Investors into these programmes need to fully understand what they are buying into and what is required of them before making any kind of commitment,” says James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, a company that facilitates global investment and citizenship programmes around the world.
 
Bowling admits that there are so many elements to take into consideration when looking at a residency or citizenship programme it can be quite overwhelming. Here, he addresses the top five frequently asked questions regarding residency and citizenship by investment programmes:
 
FAQ 1: What are the main advantages of a residency or citizenship?

Residency or citizenship allows an immigrant to live, work and study in the country into which they invest. Residents and citizens will also have access to some of the country’s health and education facilities.
 
One of the greatest advantages of investing into a residency or citizenship programme is that applicants don't have to emigrate to enjoy the lifestyle and financial benefits such as the travel benefits offered by some of the destinations. Bowling also points out that by gaining a second residence or citizenship, investors are also able to enjoy huge tax breaks. “The extent of these benefits would depend on the new jurisdiction’s offering and incentives as well as where the client makes their primary tax residence.  The purposes of this planning could be either personal or corporate or both,” he says.
 
Some investors are also attracted to residency and citizenship programmes for the opportunity to improve their lifestyles through better access to basic services such as health and education as well as more select criteria such as sporting facilities, natural environment etc.
 
FAQ 2: What is the difference between residency and citizenship?

Permanent residency means that the investor is allowed to reside for as long as the validity of the Residency within a country of which he or she is not a citizen.  Residence permits are issued for migrants who meet certain criteria and its validity is time based.
 
By obtaining citizenship in another country, the investor becomes a citizen of that country which entitles them to carry that country’s passport.  “Depending on the countries involved, the investor will be able to keep their existing citizenship and passport and thus the new passport becomes their second passport.  This is why these programmes are often referred to as second passport programmes,” Bowling explains.
 
In addition to the benefits of residency programmes, citizenship programmes can also offer no restrictions on the time allowed to visit or leave the country, no annual commitments in order to maintain citizenship status, further improved travel benefits and a complete lifestyle hedge.
 
FAQ 3: What types of investments are required?

Residency and citizenship by investment programmes generally have at least two investment options which often include real estate investment, investments in business ventures and investment in government stocks and bonds. The minimum amount payable for these investments is prescribed by each country, but ranges from around US$300 000 to US$1million or more.
 
“Some residency programmes do impose minimum stay requirements, which also need to be taken into account,” says Bowling.
 
FAQ 4: Is the residency or citizenship open to spouses and other family members?

Obtaining dual citizenship through an investment programme is not just something that has benefits for the investor, but also their immediate family. “Savvy investors are also looking at residency investment programmes and dual citizenship as a way to secure a better life for their families,” says Bowling.

He says that for many it’s about having the option to relocate to another country that can provide their families with the lifestyle and amenities that they are looking for. This could be better schooling opportunities for their children, a safe environment in which to raise their families, or just a better quality of life.

Investors in citizenship by investment programmes qualify for a second passport, and more often than not, their spouse and minor children will also qualify. Bowling explains that the investor, their spouse and children will need to apply for the citizenship or residency. Once the applications have been approved, a residence permit or citizenship will be granted.

FAQ 5: What are the basic requirements for applicants?

Bowling says that in addition to making a financial investment, applicants must have a valid passport, have no criminal record and provide documents supporting the source and origin of the declared funds for investment. Various application and professional fees are also payable by applicants. While the requirements differ from country to country, in general applicants must have no criminal record, be in excellent health and have a high personal net wealth.
 
“Access to a second residency or citizenship through investment is becoming far easier to obtain, as more and more countries are opening their doors to investors who can assist in stimulating economic growth,” says Bowling. He concludes by saying that a residency or citizenship programme can provide investors with lifestyle security, the benefits of enhancing their families’ safety and wellbeing as well as an investment that acts as a rand hedge while simultaneously providing sound returns on investment.


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