A brief visit back to the early 1970s in Canada was a time when people lived a simple life. My father’s entire family was one of the early Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong who all became naturalized Canadians including myself. Fortunately, our families were blessed to flourish in the food business in Canada although there were no investment requirements for citizenship during that era.
Today emigrating to Canada has become a very complex process with no current citizenship by investment (CBI) option in real estate. The current real estate market in Canada is extremely overvalued making it unaffordable to many Canadians. Moreover, the most unattractive restriction is an extended stay requirement of 3 years (1,095 days) out of the total 5 years!
In addition to the English or French language requirement, a more challenging citizenship test must be taken by applicants aged 18 to 54. The test is based on the Discover Canada study guide to determine if applicants have adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. The written test consists of 20 questions with only 30 minutes to answer in order to achieve a 75 percent or higher grade to pass.
Now that the United Kingdom (UK) has officially exited the European Union (EU), many British have emigrated to the top destination of Portugal. However, many desperate Hong Kong people are considering to resettle in the UK primarily due to the former colonial ties with the British National Overseas (BNO) citizenship.
Prior to the Handover to China in 1997, 2.9 million Hong Kong people applied for the BNO citizenship along with 2.3 million dependents of those BNO citizens. Under the British Nationality Law, Hong Kong people holding the BNO passport are Commonwealth Citizens although they are not British Citizens.
Since January 31, 2021, the new system allows BNO passport holders and their dependents to apply for two periods of five years to live and work in the UK. After living the first 5 years in the UK, BNO holders are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) status which allows individuals to remain living and working in the UK without reapplying for a visa. Normally, applicants who have held the ILR status for a further one year for a total of six years in the UK may qualify to apply for British citizenship.
Another popular destination is Australia which offers a high standard of living at a high cost of living. Most Australian cities may be relatively cheaper than cities like New York, London, or Paris, although the country’s vast expanse and remoteness make it an expensive destination to live.
In 2012, the Australian Significant Investor Visa or Australian Golden Visa was introduced by the government. It offers an improved path to Permanent Residency in Australia through investment immigration although it is somewhat confusing. There is no direct Australia CBI program although the Investor Visa is available for individuals who contribute to business and investment activities in Australia.
For the residence requirement, individuals must live a minimum of 2 years of the 4 years although 2 years of residence does not need to be continuous. However, the most challenging is the steep business requirements. The sole proprietor or partnership must have held uninterrupted for a minimum 4 years, in the sole proprietor’s name or names of partners, a designated investment of 1.5 million AUD made for the purpose of satisfying a requirement for the Investor Visa!
In addition to a character test, there is a challenging Australian Citizenship test which allows applicants 45 minutes to answer 20 questions in order to achieve a score of 75 percent or more to pass.
To the southeast is Australia’s only neighbor New Zealand. The country, with a small population of approximately 4.8 million, does offer a CBI program although the investment limits are outrageous. Generally, there are two different options leading to citizenship by investment in New Zealand. The first consideration is an investment of a minimum 3 million NZ over a 4 year period!
Then the second choice is an investment of 10 million NZ over a 3 year period! The immediate reaction to such unbelievably high investment limits is that the New Zealand government is simply deterring CBI by making it so unattractive. Moreover, the stay requirements are also quite restrictive where applicants must be a resident in New Zealand for a minimum 5 years to qualify for citizenship. There is no freedom or flexibility with their CBI program.
In 2021, there was a major change in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic union of Arab states bordering the Gulf includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain, tradition of never granting citizenship.
The UAE announced a CBI program that intends to attract special skills including investors who can contribute to the UAE economy. In order to qualify for UAE citizenship by investment program, submitting any applications will not be necessary by applicants. The Executive Councils, Rulers and Crown Prince’s Courts, and the Cabinet will choose the nominees from the following professions of doctors, scientists, engineers, authors, and artists.
The new law classifies specific categories of expatriates in the UAE who are eligible for the citizenship and passport. These particular groups are; investors who own property in the UAE, scientists, doctors, and engineers with 10 or more years of experience, intellectuals and artists with a globally recognized award, and inventors with a minimum one certified patent within the UAE.
As one of the richest countries worldwide, the investment requirements are quite substantial. Candidate must prove that he or she has sufficient funds to create a business in the UAE or make a significant investment into a UAE company. Then UAE immigration authorities must accept the prospective investment which may lead to a visa approval.
For a 10 year residency permit, candidates are required to contribute AED 10 million investment which is an estimated USD 2.7 million! If candidates chooses to invest half at AED 5 million which is an estimated USD 1.36 million, the UAE immigration will authorize a 5 year residency visa! However, the UAE has one of the most attractive tax schemes in the world with virtually no taxes. Individuals are not required to pay income tax, and filing a tax return is not necessary! Moreover, foreign income from overseas is not taxed by the UAE. In other words, there are no personal income taxes, no capital gains or property taxes, and no corporation taxes!
However, the Citizenship by Investment is still unclear as to the number of years of required residency to qualify for UAE citizenship since the amended law came in effect in 2021.
In the United States of America (USA), the general safety for Africans is a very unsafe environment due to a Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that began in July 2013. BLM is a decentralized political and social movement originating among African Americans protesting against events of police brutality emphasizing basic human rights and all racially motivated violence against black people. The movement has escalated due to more unlawful shootings or killings against unarmed African American victims.
The final comparison is the USA’s neighbor to the south and largest goods trading partner with Mexico. The Mexican government offers a residence visa program through investment channels in real estate or business with the possibility of obtaining Mexican citizenship. Initially, foreign nationals and their families who choose to migrate to Mexico may apply for a Temporary Resident visa. This visa comprises several categories such as Education, Scientific Research, Marriage, Economic Solvency, and Real Estate Investment.
In order to obtain a temporary resident visa in Mexico, applicants must own a real estate property in Mexico with a value exceeding MXN 2,804,000 which is an estimated 139,000 USD. Under this visa category, individuals may not conduct lucrative activities, such as employment, in Mexico. The Mexico Golden Visa is a minimum USD 200,000 investment in real estate or business activities.
Normally, the permit is issued for one year although it is renewable annually for an additional 3 years, provided that requirements are approved. Prior to its expiration, a temporary resident may apply for a permanent resident permit provided that he or she has uninterruptedly resided in the country for 4 years with Mexican income taxes paid to date. Finally, after 5 years of legal residency a resident may be eligible for Mexican naturalization. To achieve citizenship candidates must have Spanish language skills and pass a test and interview about Mexican history, culture and values.
Based on the comparison of various global destinations, it is clear that each country has steep investment requirements or extended stay requirements along with other restrictions.
In Portugal, the Golden Visa scheme is without doubt one of the most flexible Citizenship by Investment programs worldwide with only 35 days, consecutively or non-consecutively, stay requirement for the 5 year Golden Visa! As for the minimum investment requirement in Portugal, 500,000 EUR is clearly an excellent investment value compared to the millions of dollars required in most of the countries mentioned!
Currently, Elysium 8 Holdings is promoting two approved projects qualified for the Golden Visa program. The Ocean Villas project is an ocean view location with five attached villas including a communal swimming pool and landscaping. Each spacious four bedroom villa will be new construction and is available for the minimum 500,000 EUR Golden Visa investment. Please see a full presentation of the Ocean Villas project by clicking on the link.
The Akoya Pearls project is a front-line prime oceanfront location with five private homes including individual swimming pools and partial underground parking. Each large modern four bedroom home will be new construction and is available at an excellent value of 728,000 EUR Golden Visa investment. Please see a full presentation of the Akoya Pearls project by clicking on the link.
In December 2020, the Portuguese government extended the existing Golden Visa program until January 1, 2022. The translation is that global investors have the “golden” opportunity to capitalize on excellent real estate value along the desirable Silver Coast and take advantage of the generous family benefits through the Golden Visa scheme.
What will happen after January 1, 2022? All residential properties along the Silver Coast and coastal towns including property in high-density cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve will no longer qualify for the Golden Visa program. According to the Portuguese government, only residential acquisition properties worth 280,000 EUR or more or rehabilitation projects equal to 350,000 EUR located in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira, commercial properties along the Silver Coast, and the interior territories will be eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa.
Moreover, four of the eight Golden Visa options will increase investment requirements from January 1, 2022. The capital transfer investment requirement will increase from 1 million EUR to 1.5 million EUR. The subscription requirement for the acquisition of units in investment funds or venture capital for the capitalization of companies will increase from 350,000 EUR to 500,000 EUR.
Investment requirement in research carried out by private or public institutions integrated in the national scientific and technological system will increase from 350,000 EUR to 500,000 EUR. Investment requirement into an existing Portugal-registered business for the constitution of a commercial company creating 5 permanent jobs will increase from 350,000 EUR to 500,000 EUR.
Therefore, NOW is the time for investors who are seriously considering a Citizenship By Investment program to take advantage of the existing Portugal Golden Visa scheme before the expiry on December 31, 2021!