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Immigration Central: Permanent residency, naturalisation, golden visas and other key options

Home ministry data show that in 2021, 78,284 Indians took up American citizenship. The other most popular countries for immigration were Australia (23,533 Indians), Canada (21,597), and UK (14,637).

August 31, 2022 / 11:16 AM IST
Worldwide, only 30 countries, including the US, offer unconditional citizenship by birth. (Image: Reuters)

Worldwide, only 30 countries, including the US, offer unconditional citizenship by birth. (Image: Reuters)

During 2021, over 1.63 lakh Indian nationals renounced their Indian citizenship, the highest during the last three years, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Of these, 78,284 Indians took up US citizenship with Australia (23,533), Canada (21,597), the UK (14,637), Italy (5,986), New Zealand (2,643) and Singapore (2,516) being the other preferred countries. Globally, what are the citizenship/residency options available?

Residence permit: It is a permit to enter a country for a specific purpose: for study, work, recreation or medical treatment. As a rule, this is a sticker on the passport page but accords more rights than a visa. While it is validity, a temporary residence permit holder can:

• live in the country,

• cross the border an unlimited number of times,

• buy real estate,

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• do business,

• study in public or private institutions,

• use medical services,

• get a driver's license.

Permanent residency: This is not citizenship but it gives the holder more rights and privileges than a residence permit. However, it does not give the right to work in the civil service or to participate in elections.

In a few counties, a permit is issued for life and does not need to be renewed after a specified duration. In Europe, permanent residence is renewed every five years. To keep a permanent resident status, the permit holder must have been in Canada for at least 730 days during the last five years. These 730 days don’t need to be continuous. In the UK, the ILR (indefinite leave to remain) is similar to a permanent residency. This permit can lapse if the person spends more than two years outside the UK continuously after being granted permanent residence in the UK.

During its validity period, a permanent residency permit holder can:

• work in any position in private companies.

• use all the benefits and social benefits available to the citizens of the country.

• leave the country at any time and for any period or live in it as many days if the permit was issued through investments. In other cases, the 183-day rule applies.

Family Citizenship: In this citizenship by blood, an individual can apply for citizenship of another country if their grandparent, parent or other close family member is the citizen of a country other than where the applicant was born. France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Romania, Thailand, and Turkey offer this citizenship outright.

Citizenship by Birth: It is erroneously assumed that every country grants its citizenship if an individual is born within its territory. Worldwide, only 30 countries, including the US, Caribbean islands such as Dominica, Jamaica, and St Kitts & Nevis, offer unconditional citizenship by birth. In other countries, including Australia, Egypt, New Zealand, and South Africa, there are legal restrictions for citizenship by birth. Canada, Israel, Greece offer individual citizenship to their birth country, as well as that of one or both parents.

However, children born to diplomats and other recognised government employees from other countries, will not be granted the US citizenship even if they are born on American territory.

Citizenship by Descent: Allows applicants who are born outside of the country to obtain a passport. Countries offering this are: Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Romania, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Israel, Greece, Germany, Armenia. The easiest countries to get this citizenship is Italy, Poland, Hungary.

Citizenship by Naturalisation: The timeframe can vary from two years to 10 years. Once a naturalised citizen, you get all privileges and benefits of a citizen.

Dual Citizenship: Dual citizenship, or multiple citizenship, is when a single person is legally recognised as a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. However, not all countries allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship.

Benefits:

Security: A second passport from a stable country can be life-saving in the event of any kind of political, economic or social unrest in one’s home country.

Global mobility: A second passport can offer individuals from these countries increased global mobility.

Business: Dual citizens can do business in the host country as well as travel abroad more freely.

Tax optimisation: Allows investors to manage their wealth more efficiently and effectively because some countries only tax income earned from that country and do not subject capital gains to taxes either.

Start-up visa: Various countries offer start-up visa for individuals who are entrepreneurs and want to establish a business in the particular country. You will need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been approved by an endorsing body. The category does not lead directly to settlement but the visa can be renewed.

Golden visa: In its most basic form, golden visa denotes the process whereby qualified candidates are granted either full residence or citizenship rights in exchange for a defined economic contribution to the host country. Golden visa programs give high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) the option of physically relocating to another country and becoming residents of that state with full legal rights, including the right to live, work, study, and receive healthcare in that country.

Citizenship by Investment: Citizenship by investment programs allow families to acquire an alternative citizenship, which in turn gives them the right to travel freely to various destinations and to settle in another country.

Over 100 countries in the world have some form of investment migration legislation in place. Of these, about 30 residence and/or citizenship by investment programs are running successfully.

Top 10 Citizenship by Investment progams, ranked in order of fastest processing time, are:

Dominica

Processing time: 3 months

Investment and fee:

• Economic Development Fund (EDF) single applicant: US$100,000

• Pre-approved Real Estate option: US$200,000

• Due diligence fees for main applicant: US$7,500

• Processing fee: US$1,000 per application

• Bank due diligence fees: US$300

• Naturalisation certificate fee: US$250

• Passport fee: US$300

St Kitts & Nevis

Processing time: 3 months

Investment and Fee:

- Sustainable Growth Fund (SDF) single applicant: US$150,000

- Real Estate option: US$400,000

- Acquisition of private home: US$400,000

- Alternative investment US$175,000-200,000

- Due diligence fees for main applicant: US$7,500

- Processing fee: US$250 per applicant

- Bank due diligence fees: US$200 for main applicant

- Certificate of registration fee: US$50 per applicant

- Passport fee: US$365

- Accelerated Application Process: US$25,000 for main applicant

St Lucia

Processing time: 3 months

Investment and Fee:

- National Economic Fund (NEF) single applicant: US$100,000

- Pre-approved Real Estate option: US$300,000

- Enterprise option: US$3.5 million

- Covid-19 relief bond: US$250,000 (LTO until 31/12/22)

- Government bond: US$500,000

- Due diligence fees for main applicant: US$7,500

- Processing fee: US$2,000 per applicant

- Passport fee: US$150

Vanuatu

Processing time: 3 months

Investment and fee:

- Government fund contribution: US$130,000 main applicant

- Due diligence: $5,000

- Passport and naturalisation certificate fee: US$400

Turkey

Processing time: 3-6 months

Investment and fee:

- Real estate investment: US$400,000

- Fixed capital contribution: US$500,000

- Turkish bank account deposit: US$500,000

- Government bonds: US$500,000

- Real estate investment/venture capital investment fund share: US$500,000

- Private pension investment: US$500,000

- Passport fee: US$500

Antigua & Barbuda

Processing time: 4-6 months

Investment and fee:

- National Development Fund (NDF) for family of up to four: US$100,000

- Pre-approved real estate option: US$200,000

- University of West Indies Fund option: US$150,000 for family of 6

- Business investment option: US$1.5m

- Due diligence fee: US$7,500 main applicant

- Government processing fee: US$30,000 (family of 4)

- Bank fees: US$500

- Oath of allegiance: US$500

- Passport fees: US$300

Grenada

Processing time: 6-9 months

Investment and fee:

- National Transformation Fund (NTF) single applicant US$150,000

- Pre-approved Real Estate Option: US$350,000

- Application fee: US$1,500 per applicant

- Due diligence fee for main applicant: US$5,000

- Processing fee: US$1,500

- Non-included spouse or sponsor fees: US$8,000

- Passport fee: US$250

- Permanent residence card fee: US$1,000

- Criminal record letter fee: US$105

Montenegro

Processing time: 6-12 months

Investment and fee:

- Investment in development project: €250,000

- Government fee: €100,000

- Due diligence: €7,000

- Administrative fee: €15,000

Egypt

Processing time: 6-12 months

Investment and fee:

- Real estate purchase: US$500,000

- Investment project: US$400,000

- Refundable cash investment: US$750,000- $1 million (depending on years held)

- Non-refundable contribution to State Treasury: US$250,000

- Government fee: US$10,000

Malta

Processing time: 13 months

Investment and fee:

- National Development and Social Fund for main applicant: €600,000

- Real estate purchase: €700,000

- Donation: €10,000

- Due diligence fee: €15,000 for main applicant

- Government fee: €10,000

(Source: Paul Singh, Director, CS Global Partners)
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer.
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