As residency by investment programs such as the Greek and Spanish golden visas, as well as the USA’s EB5 and Malta’s Permanent Residency Program (MPRP), continue to garner tremendous interest, it becomes more imperative for prospective investors to understand the specifics of the application forms and the terminologies associated with them.
This piece will cover the fundamentals of residency by investment application forms, giving in-depth explanations of some of the most important terms an investor must understand and providing applicants with an idea of what type of documentation they will need to provide.
Different Residency by Investment Programs have different application formats, but there are a plethora of similarities. Most applications are made initially via an online portal, then require physical applications accompanied by supporting documents to be filed at an embassy, consulate, or in the country itself.
A residency by investment application will normally require the following information, varying in degree and requirement depending on the program:
- Civil and personal information
- Family composition and members
- Choice of residency permit
- Choice of investment (if applicable)
- Source of funds
- Proof of investment
- Due diligence documentation and information
- Travel history
Applications differ in detail, as some take thirty minutes to one hour to fill, while others, such as an EB5 application, may require a longer time.
The documents will also differ, but the premise remains very similar. Below is an explanation of the various required documents and information sets that are needed to apply for a residency by investment program.
Civil & Personal Information
This is the most important and comprehensive part of any residency by investment application. Personal information such as given names, addresses, age, marital status and residence permits is always a requirement, no matter what the program.
Civil documents must be provided to supplement the information, and they may be requested in an original format (certified by the relevant government body) or as a copy. These documents may include:
- Passport copies
- ID cards
- Driver licences
- Proof of address (house registration, lease, utility bills, etc.)
- Current and former occupations (can be supplemented with letters of incorporation for business owners or letters of employment for employees)
- Average income (bank statements and payslips are good proof)
A government may request additional information from an applicant, but in essence, civil documents and personal information are an obvious necessity.
Family Composition & Members
If an applicant wishes to add family members to their application, they must include information regarding their family members.
An applicant must include the personal and civil information above for each family member, but they also must highlight their familial bonds through documentation such as:
- Marriage certificates
- Death certificates
- Birth certificates
- Adoption papers
- Divorce papers
- Court ordered full custody papers (in case an investor wants to add the children of divorce or separation)
- Letter of no refusal (this is submitted in case the applicant has joint custody with an ex-partner and they want to include the children in their application, this letter ensures the other partner approves of their children’s addition to the application).
Any family member in the application must be accounted for in terms of adding personal information, relevant civil documents, and relation to the main applicant. Some residency by investment programs require applicants to add information regarding all their first blood family members, whether they are added in the application or not, but normally this comes with a downgrade in the number of supporting documents.
Choice Of Investment
Some Residency by Investment Programs offer different investment categories for applicants to choose from and there are also various options, such as investing in mutual funds or making capital investments.
Greece’s Golden Visa for example, has different investment categories, such as real estate or term deposits. Malta’s MPRP also allows investors to choose between renting real estate or outright purchasing it.
The variety of investments means that an applicant must choose which investment option they are lodging their application under. They must commit to the investment they choose initially, but if they change their mind during the application adjudication, they will need to have their legal representative rescind the application and file a new one.
However, it is worth noting that even if an investor wishes to change their investment, but the application is at its final stages, they can do so after they are approved by informing the government prior to selling their initial investment and buying a new one within a specific period.
Source Of Funds
One of the most difficult aspects of any residency by investment application is proving the source of funds for the investment. An investor may have to prove where the money for the investment comes from.
This is not a difficult requirement in all Residency by Investment Programs, as some programs, such as Greece’s Golden Visa, only need to know whether the investment amount is from a personal account or whether there is any type of foreign financing. This is referred to as one-level proof for the source of funds, where the government requires an applicant to go one step back to where they got the money. In this case, the one step is as follows:
- Money is available; where did it come from?
- Personal money (bank account as proof) or financing (financing agreement as proof).
Other programs, like Canada’s provincial nominee programs, or the US EB5 visa, require more detailed information regarding the source of funds, going back multiple stages. The EB5, for example, requires investors to go back two steps; this would mean that an investor using their own money would have to prove where they got their money.
This would, in turn, require an investor to submit a bank account that highlights where the money comes from (a real estate sale, for example) and then provide the documents that show that transaction (purchase agreement and switch of ownership for property).
Canada’s provincial nominee programs go even further, requiring investors to go all the way back to the initial source of funds. This may require them to provide proof for multiple routes of income, such as dividend payments, pay slips, employment history, gift certificates, deposit returns, inheritance certificates, tax returns, and much more.
Those who have the entire investment amount with a simple route to track where it came from can easily prove their source of funds. However, those with a complex revenue stream framework may be better off applying to a program with lax source of funds requirements.
Proof Of Investment
Residency by investment Programs require documented proof that the investment has been made. This is usually shown through a signed purchase agreement (for real estate), bank transfer certificates, bank statements (from both the applicant and the developer), and property registration.
For other investment options, such as mutual fund investments, they can show a fund management agreement and the transfer of the amount to the fund’s bank account.
In some circumstances, some programs allow investors who are reluctant to buy before being approved to prove their investment through a letter of intent which highlights the willingness of the developer to sell the property to the investor as soon as they are approved. The use of an ESCROW is mostly required here, as it ensures that if an investor is approved, the money is transferred directly to the developer, hence ensuring the investor comes through in regard to their investment.
Due Diligence Documentation & Information
This is the most important part of any Residency by investment Program, as the country granting a residence permit wants to ensure that whoever enters is a person of good character and not a threat to its community.
Due diligence basically means running an intensive background check on an applicant, including but not limited to issues such as criminal activity, money laundering, criminal ties, and political exposure.
Applicants can expect a government to request some documents related to the due diligence process, such as police certificates, certificates of good civil manner, outstanding court orders, and more.
Applicants who are undergoing a trial for criminal activity will be refused; however, if they are acquitted, they can submit an appeal (within a given time frame) accompanied by the official court decision.
Applicants facing a civil lawsuit can apply, as it will not affect the decision unless there is a criminal component to the suit.
Due diligence is the backbone of any residency by investment program, and the more documents a person can provide highlighting their clean background, the better their chances are.
Some programs require information regarding the applicant’s travel history. This could be for the past five years, ten years, or more, depending on the program.
Some programs have more invested interest in travel history to certain areas, such as the EU will request more details on travel to the Schengen Area or the United States will request details on travel to US-sanctioned countries.
Travel history is simple to prove by using the dates on one’s passport, and even if they do not have their old passports, an estimation would usually do just fine.
The Best Route To Apply For Residency By Investment
The best way to apply for residency by investment is to do so through a qualified representative. Residency by investment applications can seem cumbersome for most people, but choosing a formidable, experienced firm to represent you can make the entire process extremely simple.
At Savory & Partners, we always make our client’s journey as simple and enjoyable as possible, as our expertise, network of connections, and inside knowledge allow us to understand what documents and information are needed for each specific case.
To know more about residency by investment applications, contact us today to speak with one of our experts.
We are available on every channel convenient for you.