There are several paths people can follow to get European citizenship. Starting businesses is an option rather expensive. One might get married in an EU country to get the citizenship. Countries’ residence programs are also viable options that could lead to citizenship later on. This article includes two citizenship by investment programs and one Golden Visa program. These are Cyprus’ and Malta’s citizenship by investment programs and Portugal’s Golden Visa Program.
Citizenship by Investment and Golden Visa
Citizenship by investment programs of Cyprus and Malta use the process of economic citizenship. To get the EU passport, investors can choose to benefit from these programs. Consistently considered as two of the best citizenship by investment programs, Cyprus and Malta’s schemes provide the best circumstances for investors.
Another form of investment can be made to achieve EU rights is through Golden Visa programs. Portugal’s Golden Visa program does not grant citizenship immediately, but it makes its applicants EU residents. After fulfilling the necessary requirements for naturalization, residents can become citizens.
Cyprus offers the fastest naturalization process in the world at just 57 days. The citizenship by investment process requires an investment of €2 million in real estate. Other options are investing in government bonds, a bank deposit in a Cyprus bank, or in a new company. The difference of this program is that the €2 million will be invested rather than donated. Most programs require donations. However, there is another requirement of Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program about the real estate option. The applicant must own a €500,000+ home in Cyprus indefinitely which is subject to VAT. Also, Cyprus is not part of the European Schengen Area. Cyprus passport does not grant visa-free access to the United States. Yet as stated, it is the fastest path to EU citizenship. As a result, the program offers all the perks of EU membership to its investors.
Different from Cypriot passport holders, Malta citizens enjoy the borderless Schengen Area’s advantages. Maltese economic citizenship is the only one that offers visa-free access to all six English-speaking countries. Although there is complicated and conflicting information about the program, here is the right formula: a €650,000 donation by the main applicant plus €25,000 for a spouse and each minor child, an investment of €150,000 in Maltese government bonds or stocks for a period of five years, and either a home purchase of at least €350,000 or a five-year lease contract for at least €16,000 per year. So Maltese Citizenship by Investment Program requires a real estate purchase valued at least €350,000. To be able to get the EU citizenship, the applicant also need to spend time in Malta. It takes approximately 15 months for the Maltese government to grant the EU passport to its new holder.
Portugal Golden Visa does not grant EU citizenship to its holders, but grants EU residency. It then allows its holder to work through the naturalization timeline to obtain citizenship. This is different from citizenship by investment where you are automatically granted citizenship after making your investment. In Europe, many investment immigration programs have come to be known as Golden Visas. They are not to be mistaken for citizenship by investment programs.
Portugal has a number of different options. The first is to invest capital by either transferring €1 million, capitalization on SME’s of €500,000, funding research activities with at least €350,000, or funding arts and culture with at least €250,000.
The second option is to create ten local jobs. There is no minimum investment amount for this option. Also, any business area is accepted as the focus of the investment made.
The third and the most popular option is to invest in real estate. Minimum investment requirement of Portugal Golden Visa is €350,000. However, this option can be used only in urban renewal projects that promise no return at least in short term. The option that allows investors to choose the place and qualities of their home requires at least €500,000 of investment.
Portugal’s naturalization period is five years. That means that the residence permit must be renewed at least for five years to be able to work through the naturalization timeline.