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CBI program profiles 2022
By CBI INDEX RESEARCH TEAM [SPONSORED CONTENT]

A closer look at the 13 citizenship by investment programmes that make up the 2022 CBI Index. Sponsored by CS Global Partners

The CBI Index is the only guide of its kind, offering a comprehensive ranking of operational Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes from around the world. In this section, we take a more detailed look at each of the 13 programmes making up the 2022 CBI Index, uncovering what they have to offer and what is required to become a citizen via the investment route of these respective countries. 

 

A guide to global citizenship: The 2022 CBI Index

Sourced from research commissioned by CS Global Partners

Citizenship by Investment in Antigua and Barbuda

Established in 2013, the Antigua and Barbuda CBI programme offers four investment options for successful applicants. 

The first option allows single applicants or families of up to four persons to make a minimum contribution of US$100,000 to the National Development Fund, a non-profit fund created to support both public and private projects, as well as charitable initiatives, such as improving access to healthcare and education. 

The second option requires a single applicant to make an investment of at least US$400,000 into a government-approved real estate project for a period of five years. Additionally, an applicant with no more than three additional family members may make a joint investment with a ‘related party’, with both the applicant and the ‘related party’ making a minimum investment of US$200,000 each. A related party is one with the same Licenced Agent as the applicant.

The third option entails an investment by a single applicant of US$1.5m into an eligible government-approved business project. Applicants can apply as joint investors so long as each applicant makes a minimum investment of US$400,000 into a project worth at least US$5m.

Lastly, Antigua and Barbuda offers a unique final option, which applies to families of at least six persons who invest US$150,000 into the University of the West Indies Fund (UWIF). In addition to receiving citizenship, one member of the family will also be entitled to a one-year, tuition-only scholarship to attend the University of the West Indies. Uniquely, there are also no additional government fees due for this option.

For the first three options, government fees of US$30,000 apply for families of up to four persons with an increase of US$15,000 for each additional applicant included — except as mentioned if investing into the UWIF.

Where government fees apply, 10 per cent become due upon submission of the application and are deemed non-refundable.

Application processing by the CBI Unit, the government body responsible for reviewing all applications under the Programme, remains relatively slow. The due diligence procedures in Antigua and Barbuda are generally strict, and all economic citizens hold biometric passports. Several nationalities are excluded from the application process, save for in exceptional circumstances. There is no mandated interview or knowledge-based test, but applicants are required to travel to the nation, or to an embassy or consulate, to sign an oath of allegiance. 

Once awarded, citizenship is conditional on the applicant spending five days on Antiguan or Barbudan soil within five years of obtaining citizenship. This requirement is waived for children until after they reach the age of majority at 18. This residence requirement was suspended due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and will remain so until 31 August 2022. The CBI Unit has, in the interim, been allowing economic citizens to take the oath of allegiance virtually, if satisfied that travel restrictions prevent travel to the nation or to one of its embassies or consulates.

Antigua and Barbuda is one of the most family-friendly jurisdictions in the Caribbean, allowing many family members, including unmarried siblings of any age, to join the main applicant’s journey to second citizenship. 

Antigua and Barbuda accepts dual nationality.

Citizenship by Investment in Austria

The Austrian programme offers nationality to aspiring applicants through Article 10(6) of the 1985 Nationality Act, which gives leave to the federal government to grant citizenship where a person displays actual or expected outstanding achievements. The outstanding achievement underlined in Austria’s laws can be economic and can cover those whose investments in Austria are sufficient to trigger the provision.

The particulars of Austria’s CBI procedures are not clearly codified in the nation’s laws, although the federal government may, by an order, lay down specific stipulations regarding the grant of nationality under Article 10(6). Its failure to fully do so has made the Austrian scheme one of the least transparent processes in the economic citizenship arena.

The Austrian programme is exclusive and limited to those who can guarantee a positive attitude towards Austria, and those who do not pose a danger to law and order, public safety and other public interests. The scheme is also mindful of Austria’s — and the applicant’s — associations with other states, barring persons whose relations with foreign states would be detrimental to Austria, or who, upon becoming Austrian nationals, would damage the country’s international relations. A person is also barred if they hold certain criminal convictions, immigration orders or affiliations with extremism.

The scheme has operated intermittently and only rarely are aspiring applicants successful. 

The application process takes up to two years and involves filing the application in person (unless the applicant is incompetent to act) and significant communication with various government representatives. Article 10(a)(2) exempts prospective economic citizens from having to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the German language and basic knowledge of Austria’s history and democratic system. 

If the applicant lives outside of Austria, they must travel to the relevant Austrian diplomatic or consular authority to give the oath of allegiance. There are some exceptions to this, such as those who cannot reasonably be expected to appear to deliver the oath.

Benefits of Austrian citizenship include the right to live and work in any country in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, as well as facilitated travel to the US and Canada.

Although Austria generally disallows dual nationality, applicants under Article 10(6) are permitted to retain their original citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment in Cambodia

Cambodia’s Law on Nationality dates back to as early as 1996, where provisions were made to allow foreigners to naturalise following an investment in the country. 

Cambodia allows two different options to obtain citizenship. Firstly, they will bestow economic citizenship on people who invest 1.25bn Riels into the nation. The investment must be approved either by the Cambodian Development Council or by the royal government.

The second option is also available to those who donate 1bn Riels for the restoration and rebuilding of Cambodia’s economy. 

Cambodia’s CBI Programme is the only one which has a mandatory history and language test. Applicants must also travel to Cambodia to obtain good behaviour, police and health certificates, as well as to sign the relevant citizenship oath. Applicants who choose the investment option must register a residence in Cambodia at the time of the application, although they need not live there. This requirement is waived for applicants who choose to donate.

Applications take around six months to complete, although there is evidence that speedier processing may be possible. Applications are reviewed by the Ministry of the Interior, although citizenship may only be granted by the king by royal decree. 

In 2013, it was reported by the Cambodian Ministry of Interior that 700 foreign nationals had applied for Cambodian citizenship since 2000.

Citizenship of Cambodia brings visa-free travel rights to more than 50 countries and territories, the majority of which are in Southeast Asia. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Cambodia affords opportunities for facilitated trade and greater mobility among member states for certain professionals. 

Finally, as Khmer citizens, successful applicants may purchase real estate in the country — a privilege exclusive to Cambodians.

For those wishing to retain their citizenship of birth, Cambodia allows dual citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment in Dominica

Dominica’s CBI Programme, launched in 1993, is known for being one of the world’s most efficient and transparent options for economic citizenship.

It has consistently taken the top spot in the CBI Index rankings since its inception. Its CBI Programme contributes significantly to support social and environmental projects, particularly sustainable development.

The Commonwealth of Dominica Citizenship by Investment Regulations 2014 reshaped the Programme to include diverse investment options and even stricter regulation processes. Changes to the Programme in 2020 modified investment thresholds and fees, and significantly expanded the scope of eligible dependants and post-citizenship additions.

The Programme offers two investment opportunities: the first is a one-time contribution to the government, commonly known as the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) option. Funds transferred to the EDF have been instrumental in Dominica’s national development, particularly through the reconstruction of key infrastructure, sustainable housing and the agricultural sector.

The EDF option requires a contribution of US$100,000 for a single applicant — a value that increases as family members are added.

The second option is to invest in government-approved real estate. The real estate option requires an investment of at least US$200,000, to which a single applicant must add a US$25,000 real estate government fee. The real estate must be held for a period of five years. Other applicable fees include due diligence, minor processing and Certificate of Naturalisation fees. 

The CBI Unit is the government authority tasked with managing and processing applications for economic citizenship. To qualify for Dominica’s CBI Programme, applicants must have a clean criminal record and prove they are of good character through a series of extensive due diligence checks, including with regards to source of funds.

The Dominica CBI programme has one of the fastest processing times in the CBI industry. By regulation, the Unit must respond to an application within three months of its submission. The application process in Dominica is straightforward, with no interview, travel or residence requirements, either before or after the citizenship process. Applicants need not learn English, nor show a minimum level of education or business experience.

Benefits of citizenship of Dominica include enhanced global mobility and the opportunity to experience an eco-friendly lifestyle in a lush environment. Several family members can join the main applicant and become citizens themselves, including, as of summer 2020, siblings of the main applicant or their spouse up to the age of 25, subject to conditions.

The Commonwealth of Dominica allows dual citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment in Egypt

In 2019, Egypt passed Parliament Law No. 190, which detailed conditions for the grant of citizenship to foreign nationals in exchange for investments or donations, without the need to undergo a period of residence. The law was enacted in March 2020, making the Egypt CBI programme the newest addition to the CBI Index.

There are four routes to citizenship under the Programme. First, the purchase of one or more government-owned properties or government-owned land, for at least US$500,000, to be held for a period of five years. 

Second, the acquisition of a minimum 40 per cent stake in either a new or previously established Egyptian company, in which the total invested capital must be a minimum of US$400,000. 

Third, a bank deposit of either US$750,000 to be returned after five years or US$1m to be returned after three years — both at zero per cent interest. 

Finally, a non-refundable contribution of US$250,000 to the CBI Unit account at the Central Bank of Egypt. Applicants need not make the contribution or investment until after their application has been approved. 

A special ECI Unit of the Egyptian Cabinet has been set up which is responsible for reviewing citizenship requests, rules and procedures, necessary data and documents, and making decisions on applications. 

As part of their application, applicants are required to pay a non-refundable US$10,000 government fee and submit several documents, including clean criminal records from their country of citizenship and residence, and documents evidencing employment or company ownership. Due diligence is performed by the General Intelligence Service, the Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance Administration, and the Financial Regulatory Authority. There are no banned nationalities under Egypt’s CBI Programme; however, the government at its sole discretion has the right to deny or reject any application. As part of the process, applicants need not take part in a formal interview, nor undergo mandatory testing, but they must make one visit to Egypt to obtain a National ID Card before the grant of citizenship. Biometrics are taken as part of this process. Processing is expected to take between six and nine months. 

Main applicants may also include certain family members in an application for citizenship, for example any official spouse of the main applicant can be included in an application. However, it should be noted that such spouses will not obtain citizenship of Egypt for at least one year after the main applicant becomes a citizen. The main applicant can also include unmarried children below the age of 21 in an application for citizenship. Unlike spouses, children receive Egyptian citizenship at the same time as the main applicant.

Other benefits of Egyptian citizenship include eligibility to apply for an E-2 visa to the US. There is no cap or expiry date on Egypt’s CBI Programme.

Dual citizenship is allowed.

Citizenship by Investment in Grenada

Created in 2013 by the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Act, 2013, the Grenadian CBI Programme supports the nation’s renewable and sustainable development initiatives, and stimulates foreign investment to promote tourism, construction, agriculture and manufacturing. 

Grenada’s CBI Programme offers applicants two investment options. The first option is a contribution to the National Transformation Fund (NTF) — a government institution responsible for locating and financing alternative, economy-stimulating investments for the country. A single applicant must make a US$150,000 minimum donation to the NTF — an amount that increases as family members are added to an application.

The second option is an investment in a government-approved real estate project, which itself presents two choices. Applicants can invest US$350,000 in any pre-approved project. Alternatively, they can jointly invest US$220,000 in pre-approved tourism developments, to which the developer has already committed 20 per cent of the total expected cost. All applicants who purchase real estate under the CBI Programme must hold it for five years. Any application lodged by up to four family members requires payment of an additional US$50,000 government fee where the real estate option is selected. There are additional fees when parents or grandparents under the age of 55 and siblings are included in an application. 

Applicants under either option are responsible for paying associated application, processing and due diligence fees.

The Grenada CBI Programme has gained recognition and trust thanks to its due diligence processes. Despite the CBI Unit claiming that successful applications will be approved in 60 business days, there currently appears to be significant processing delays. Grenada does not require applicants to sit an interview, demonstrate business experience or proficiency in the English language, or fulfil travel or residence requirements. 

Grenadian citizenship can benefit successful applicants by providing them with options for global mobility, including to China, with which Grenada has an extradition treaty formalised in October 2018. Grenadian citizens are also eligible to apply for a renewable E-2 visa for the US. 

Dual nationality is allowed.

Citizenship by Investment in Jordan

Jordan’s economic citizenship programme commenced in February 2018, finding legal basis in the provisions of the Jordanian Nationality Law, 1954 (No. 6 of 1954). 

The economic citizenship programme gives applicants five investment options to obtain nationality of Jordan, the thresholds and hold periods for which were reduced in a cabinet decision made in December 2019. 

First, applicants can invest US$750,000 in Jordanian small and medium-sized enterprises, and must hold that investment for a period of at least three years. 

Second, they can deposit US$1m in a non-interest-bearing account at the Central Bank of Jordan for a period of at least three years. 

Third, they can invest in treasury bonds worth US$1m, to be held for at least six years at an interest rate determined by the Central Bank of Jordan. 

Fourth, they can purchase securities from an active investment portfolio priced at US$1m. 

Lastly, they can invest US$1.5m in any project across the country (or US$1m in projects that are in governorates outside of Amman) that create a minimum of 20 local jobs and that remain active for no less than three years.

Applications for citizenship are lodged with the Jordan Investment Commission, an entity established in 2014 to succeed the Jordan Investment Board, which was first founded in 1995. Its role is to promote investment in Jordan and respond to emerging trends in the international and domestic economic environment.

The application process takes around three months and successful applications must be approved by both the Council of Ministers and the monarch. Naturalised Jordanians are barred from political or diplomatic positions, from any public office prescribed by the Council of Ministers, and from becoming members of the state council for a period of ten years from the grant of citizenship. They are also excluded from participation in municipal or village councils for a period of five years from obtaining citizenship. Loss of citizenship for naturalised persons is considered if a person commits or attempts to commit an act to endanger Jordan’s peace and security, or if a person is found to have misrepresented evidence during the naturalisation process. Revocation of citizenship is also possible in certain instances where a person enters foreign military or civil service, or the service of an enemy state.

Citizenship by Investment in Malta

In September 2020, the Individual Investor Programme was discontinued and Malta’s new CBI offering was reborn under the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, 2020. Malta’s new offering is subject to a cap of 400 Certificates of Naturalisation per annum and 1500 in total, excluding dependants.

Persons wishing to apply for citizenship under the Regulations must first complete a residence requirement of either 36 months or, for a higher investment amount, 12 months. During the residence period, applicants apply for an eligibility assessment and, if successful, may apply for citizenship upon completion of the residence requirement.

All applicants under the Regulations must complete three forms of investment. First, they must make either a €600,000 or a €750,000 exceptional direct investment, depending on the length of their stay in Malta. €10,000 of this must be remitted as a non-refundable deposit upon submission of the initial residence application. 

Second, they must either purchase real estate in Malta, valued at €700,000 or more, or rent property at a cost of at least €16,000 per annum. In both instances, they must hold the real estate for a period of five years from the date of issue of the Certificate of Naturalisation. Furthermore, the property must be adequate and suitable for main applicants and any dependants to live in.

Finally, applicants must make a €10,000 donation to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic nongovernmental organisation or society, or as otherwise approved by the Community Malta Agency.

As well as completing the three-part investment, applicants must also pay hefty due diligence and administrative fees. 

Under Malta’s offering, citizenship is a 13-month endeavour at best. During this time, applicants are expected to live in Malta and build ‘connecting factors’ to the country. 

Successful applicants under the policy can expect their names to be published in Malta’s Gazette, and to be identified as recipients of Maltese citizenship within 12 months of obtaining their citizenship.

Maltese citizenship brings several benefits, including citizenship of an EU member state and the ability to retain dual nationality, which was allowed in 2000.

Citizenship by Investment in Montenegro 

Montenegro’s CBI Programme was launched and started accepting applications in October 2019. The Programme is limited both by application volume and time, being capped at 2000 applications and slated to run until 31 December 2022. 

Despite a promising start, issuing its first application approval in February 2020 within three months of submission and entering the market with one of the world’s fastest application processing times, Montenegro failed to secure investor interest. As of March 2021, it had issued only 37 approvals.

The investment structure in Montenegro consists of two tiers, with applicants being required to make a non-refundable donation and choose between two real estate options. Under the first option, applicants must invest €250,000 in government-approved development projects in tourism, agriculture, or processing, located in northern and central Montenegro. Under the second option, applicants must invest €450,000 in government-approved development projects in any of the same three industries, located in Podgorica or along the coastline. Regardless of the real estate option chosen, applicants must also make a €100,000 donation to be used by the government to to fund regional development in Montenegro.

In addition to the required investment, hefty processing fees apply, starting at €15,000 for a single applicant. Due diligence is performed both by agents and third-party due diligence firms and, therefore, due diligence fees also apply.

In December 2019, an important change to Montenegro’s Programme was implemented after issues surfaced with respect to dependants. Article 12 of the Montenegrin Citizenship Act makes provision for ‘a person over 18 years of age’ to obtain Montenegrin citizenship to the benefit of the state, thereby precluding minor dependants obtaining economic citizenship. To rectify this, the government issued a decree specifying that dependants may be included in a CBI application. As a result, Montenegro permits the inclusion of a spouse, minor children and adult children who are dependent on the main applicant. 

Under the Programme, applicants need not fulfil any mandatory residence requirements before or after the grant of citizenship. However, applicants must travel to Montenegro to receive their final decision and supply biometrics.

Montenegro is an attractive destination for second citizenship, with one of the fastest growing economies in the Balkans and the prospect of becoming an EU member state in 2025. Montenegro is also party to an E-2 visa treaty with the US, allowing Montenegrin citizens to obtain E-2 visas to work in the US. 

Successful applicants are exempt from Montenegro’s restrictions on dual nationality.

Citizenship by Investment in St Kitts and Nevis

This programme has earned multiple awards and a reputation as the ‘platinum standard’ of CBI. As the world’s most longstanding economic citizenship programme, established in 1984, the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis has a more than 38-year history of leading the field of economic citizenship.

To qualify for economic citizenship, applicants now have four investment options to choose from.

The country’s first ever option for economic citizenship — a donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation — remains in existence in relevant regulations, but has, in practice, been superseded by the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF).

The SGF is a permanent feature of the Programme that was established in March 2018. It substituted the temporary Hurricane Relief Fund, whose establishment in 2017 resulted in elevated application numbers. Under the SGF, a single applicant must make a minimum donation of US$150,000. 

The second option is an investment in pre-authorised real estate, of which there are two branches. Under the first branch, the applicant must buy property worth at least US$400,000 and keep it for five years. Under the second branch, the applicant must make a joint investment with another applicant, with each investment worth at least US$200,000. The joint investment must be retained for a period of seven years.

Under the third option, which is only available until 1 November 2022, applicants can purchase a private home worth at least US$400,000 (not including the value of the land on which the home sits). Limitations exist with respect to the type of property that can be used under this option, as the private home must be sold as a single unit and not divided into apartments or condominiums. Property purchased under this option cannot be re-used in a subsequent application for CBI and is subject to a hold period of five years. 

Finally, the ‘Alternative Investment Option’ allows applicants to invest either in an approved infrastructural project or other approved development project. The cost of the investment varies according to whether St Kitts and Nevis owns the project at the end of the agreement, in which case the minimum investment amount is US$175,000, or whether the project is privately owned, in which case the minimum investment amount is US$200,000. 

Due diligence fees apply under all options, as do minor processing and Certificate of Registration fees. A government fee of US$35,000 is applicable for single applicants under the pre-approved real estate and private home options, while a government fee of US$50,000 applies for single applicants and families of up to four under the Alternative Investment Option.

The CBI Unit, which processes all CBI applications, normally issues approvals or denials within three months. The Accelerated Application Process, available at a premium fee, allows successful applicants to receive citizenship within 60 days of applying. Currently, St Kitts and Nevis is the only CBI nation to offer a secure, guaranteed fast-track route. 

There is no interview, language, education or business requirement applicable to any of the options chosen. Travel to the twin-islands is not obligatory, and no minimum residence stays apply either prior to or after citizenship is obtained.

Due diligence procedures remain among the industry’s most robust. Benefits of citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis include visa-free travel to a growing number of worldwide destinations — the highest of any CBI country in the Caribbean and the ability to hold multiple nationalities.

Citizenship by Investment in St Lucia 

The Caribbean’s newest economic citizenship programme, inaugurated in January 2016, offers five investment options. The fastest option is a contribution to St Lucia’s National Economic Fund (NEF). Moneys deposited into the NEF are intended for progressive local development projects selected by the Minister of Finance with the approval of parliament. Originally set at US$200,000, the government reduced the minimum threshold to US$100,000 in January 2017, making it one of the most affordable CBI investment options available. 

The second option under the Programme asks applicants to make a minimum investment of US$300,000 into a government-approved real estate project. To date, the government has designated two real estate projects for selection under this option, which, upon purchase, must be held for a period of five years.

Applicants may also acquire government bonds as part of a limited-time offer, allowing a single applicant (or a main applicant with up to four dependants) to purchase Covid-19 relief bonds worth US$250,000 without a processing fee. This option is available until 31 December 2022.

There is also an alternative government bond option where a single applicant (or a main applicant with up to four dependants) can purchase bonds worth US$500,000 to be held for five years. Qualifying government bonds cannot return a rate of interest.

Under the Programme’s final option, applicants can make a minimum investment of US$3.5m into a government-approved enterprise project. Projects, which may be initiated by applicants themselves, can range from the building of a port to the establishment of a university, and must result in the creation of at least three permanent jobs. Applicants may partner with others to launch a joint venture, so long as a total minimum investment of US$6m is made, with each investor contributing no less than US$1m. At least six permanent jobs must be generated as a result of the joint venture.

Due diligence fees are always levied. Processing fees apply under all options, except for investments in real estate and the Covid-19 relief bonds limited-time offer, while administration fees apply only to the real estate, government bonds and enterprise project options. The latter start at US$30,000 for real estate investors, and at US$50,000 for single applicants choosing the government bond or enterprise project routes. 

Applications are processed by the CBI Unit and are usually returned with an approval or denial within three months of submission. There is no need for applicants to learn English, or to prove any business skills or education. Applicants need not attend an interview, reside in St Lucia nor travel to the island. Citizenship of St Lucia offers a viable alternative for anyone seeking a relaxing lifestyle and global access to more than 145 countries and territories.

St Lucia has no restrictions on holding dual nationality. 

Citizenship by Investment in Turkey

Turkey’s economic citizenship programme was launched in January 2017. It finds its basis in Turkey’s Citizenship Law, Act No. 5901 and in Regulation 2016/9601, passed by the council of ministers on 12 December 2016. 

Applicants interested in obtaining citizenship of Turkey may do so by choosing one of six routes. The first four each entail retention of the investment for a period of three years. They are purchasing property valued at US$400,000 — an increase from US$250,000 that was introduced in June 2022, depositing US$500,000 in a Turkish bank, investing US$500,000 in government bonds or depositing US$500,000 into a private pension system. The applicant must ensure recognition of the investment by either the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, the Council of Bank Audit and Regulation, the Ministry of Treasury and Finance or the Insurance and Private Pension Regulation and Supervision Agency, depending on the chosen investment.

The remaining two routes to citizenship are an investment of US$500,000 in fixed capital, to be acknowledged by the Ministry of Industry and Technology, or the creation of 50 jobs in Turkey, to be acknowledged by the Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Security. Applicants who purchase property may not re-sell that property to someone for use in a future CBI application.

While the ultimate decision on the grant of economic citizenship originally rested with the council of ministers, following the 2018 amendments it is now in the hands of Turkey’s president. 

Application processing takes between three to six months and remains steady despite record application numbers. There is no requirement for applicants to learn Turkish or to attend an interview. There is also no requirement to establish residence by physical presence. However, the applicant will need to obtain an investor residence card and provide biometrics.

There are no restrictions on an applicant’s country of origin, making the Turkish CBI route a popular option for those who are banned from partaking in the programmes of other nations.

Despite various attempts at obtaining visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, including by the making of an agreement with the EU on the flow of refugees, Turkish nationals must obtain visas to enter the Schengen member states. They must also apply for visas to Canada and the US.

Turkey allows dual nationality. 

Citizenship by Investment in Vanuatu 

Vanuatu currently has two concurrent CBI programmes: the Development Support Programme (DSP) and the Vanuatu Contribution Programme (VCP). In July 2021, Vanuatu commenced a third Real Estate Option (REO) programme. Currently there are four VGA projects. Until 2018, the DSP had been limited in scope, offering honorary citizenship. 

This changed with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (No. 34 of 2018). The DSP was further enhanced by the Citizenship (Development Support Programme) Regulations Order No. 33 of 2019, which improved the programme’s competitiveness, bringing applicant costs in line with the VCP while also enabling participation by Ni-Vanuatu designated agents with an office registered in Port Vila.

Applications under the DSP are processed by the Citizenship Office and Commission, an entity established under the Vanuatu Citizenship Act. 

The minimum sale price for a single applicant under the DSP is US$130,000, of which the government retains US$80,000. Applicants must commit 25 per cent of this value prior to the application being considered and in the knowledge that this amount would be lost should the applicant fail to pass scrutiny. Due diligence, application and certificate fees apply, with due diligence fees having been increased to US$5000 per application by the Citizenship (Development Support Program) (Amendment) Regulations Order No.39 of 2020. Announcements were made at the start of 2022 that Vanuatu was to engage an external due diligence firm to conduct comprehensive checks, but to date this has not been implemented.

Applications are processed rapidly, although slowdowns are sometimes recorded as a result of the oath of allegiance procedure having to be completed in the physical presence of a Commissioner for Oaths located in Vanuatu, Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore. With the onset of Covid-19, however, temporary provision was made for applicants to take the oath of allegiance via video conference.

Citizenship certificates may be received by a designated agent and do not require additional travelling. Limitations also exist with respect to the applicant’s choice of designated agent, as applicants cannot decide to change their representative agent unless their application is progressing at an unreasonably slow pace (defined as in excess of six months). In practice, applicants benefit from the government not imposing a language test, which could otherwise require mastering any of Vanuatu’s three official languages (English, French and Bislama) or a vernacular of Vanuatu. Applicants also need not sit an interview, nor study the culture or history of the island.

In mid-2022, the EU Parliament imposed a temporary suspension of visa-free access to the Schengen area, in light of its concerns about the due diligence processes of the Vanuatu programme. 

Vanuatu allows dual nationality. 

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