Legitimacy in investment migration was an issue a few decades back, but verifying a citizenship or residency by investment program’s authenticity or an agent’s certificate is much simpler now, if you know exactly what to look out for.
In this piece, we will cover the six most important things to know before applying for a second citizenship.
When considering a citizenship by investment program, always conduct some research to find the official government website. This will tell you what government authority officially runs the program and will provide you with the laws to prove that the program is authentic.
You may see ads for citizenship by investment programs in the US, UK, Singapore, and others. But a quick search will show you that these do not exist and that these countries only offer residency by investment.
Some providers will try to utilise existing media to make a program seem real, like in the case of North Macedonia when service providers started marketing its citizenship by investment program at $200,000. While the government was thinking about launching a program and prepared the law to match it, the program was never officially announced, and those who did apply were left in limbo as their cases were not processed.
Caribbean citizenship by investment programs have official websites with comprehensive information that shows exactly what they are and how to apply.
Shortcuts to citizenship
Many countries, like Spain, Argentina, and others have expedited routes to naturalisation, while Malta has a full-fledged citizenship by investment program that significantly decreases the time needed to become a citizen.
However, deceptive firms might offer clients a residency by investment program with a fast track to citizenship that does not exist.
Spain has a naturalisation residency requirement of ten years. But for certain nationalities, such as Latin Americans and Filipinos, that timeframe is cut down to just two years. A deceitful practitioner might highlight parts of the law and make it seem like it is open to those who invest in the Golden Visa, which is not the case.
Many residency by investment programs have a real estate option based on an open market policy, allowing investors to choose any property they’d like as long as they meet the minimum investment requirement.
However, that flexibility can breed a major problem – markups. A property in Greece might have a fair market value of €210,000, but a real estate agent may find an evaluator who officially values it at €250,000, so it meets the Golden Visa’s minimum investment requirement.
Once the government has an official valuation, it will proceed with the application, as government officials may not double-check it since the evaluator should be doing his job correctly.
Portugal’s Golden Visa is one of the most popular investment migration programs in the world, but this year, it underwent a seismic change when the government decided to scrap the real estate investment option, leaving the investment fund category as the most popular qualification channel.
Now, funds are a popular investment option but they may seem a bit foreign to the average investor, so extra caution is needed when choosing the fund under which to lodge an application for a Golden Visa.
Portugal has a government entity that regulates investment funds, the Securities Market Commission or CMVM. Any fund registered under and regulated by the CMVM qualifies for the Golden Visa, and there are hundreds of them. But that isn’t the only criteria a fund must meet to qualify for the Golden Visa, as they need to invest the majority of their funds into something other than residential real estate developments and focus the majority of their funding in Portugal.
Caribbean citizenship by investment programs have extensive lists of authorised local and international agents who are certified and allowed to market the program, give consultations, and process files.
To become an agent, a firm must pass due diligence and pay an annual fee starting at $10,000, depending on the program and the firm’s hierarchy.
Too good to be true investment opportunities
Many citizenship and residency by investment programs allow for investors to qualify through investing in an off-plan project, meaning that the project hasn’t yet started construction, and that is where many of these problems lie.
Off-plan projects can be beneficial but it all hinges on the completion of the construction. If you do want to invest in an off-plan project, the first thing to look at is the funding. If the developer is funding most of the cost, then they will want to get the job done as soon as possible. If most of it is funded by investors and third-party financing institutes, then the developer may not be in a hurry to finish, as they have no financial risk involved.
Logical consideration and research are the best ways to avoid issues such as these, and a level-headed approach is necessary for the investment factor of investment migration to be as beneficial as the immigration one.
To know more about Savory & Partners and how to pursue investment migration in a safe, beneficial way, contact us today to book a comprehensive consultation with one of our citizenship and residency by investment experts.
We are available on every channel convenient for you.