The number of wealthy South Africans taking up a second residency or citizenship programme is rising progressively, says Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients.
At the same time, she says, there is now an increasing number of countries with a range of programmes with varying benefits and financial investment requirements to choose from.
LIO Global outlines three such programmes available for more affluent South Africans.
Malta Individual Investors Programme (MIIP)
If South Africans are looking at having global access via Europe with a European citizenship, Malta is one of the top programmes to consider. As of 1 January 2017, Maltese citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 167 countries and territories, ranking the Maltese passport 10th in terms of travel freedom (tied with the Hungarian passport) according to a globally recognised visa restrictions index.
Being a Maltese citizen means one is also a citizen of the European Union. Once the investor becomes an EU citizen, they have the right of establishment in all 28 EU countries and Switzerland.
The passport, along with the national identity card allows for free rights of movement and residence in any of the states of the European Union and European Economic Area. It furthermore also opens access to EU universities.
Once the investor and family has undertaken their biometric testing, they usually receive their permanent residency card within 6 – 8 weeks. Compare that to some of the more popular residency programmes in Europe which could take 6 years or longer, and one can understand why the programme is so popular.
If the application is successful, citizenship is granted in 12 – 14 months. During this time, the investor and family will have to spend between 15 – 20 days in Malta in the first year. Thereafter no minimum stay requirements will apply.
To qualify for citizenship, the main applicant must be at least 18 years of age, provide proof of having been a resident of Malta for a period of 12 months preceding the issuing of a certificate of naturalisation and meet the following investment requirements:
- Contribute to the National Development and Social Fund of EUR 650 000; and
- The acquisition of real estate with a minimum value of EUR 350 000 to be held for at least 5 years; orease a residential immovable property in Malta for a period of 5 years, at an annual rent of at least EUR 16 000; and
- An investment in stocks, bonds or special purpose vehicles to be identified by Identity Malta, for a minimum value of EUR 150,000 to be held for a minimum period of 5 years.
Grenada Citizenship-by-investment Programme (CBI)
LIO Global has found that for South African investors who require travel access and who do not necessarily want to reside in Europe, the Grenada CBI programme is an attractive option.
Grenada is one of only thirteen nations worldwide to have access to visa-free travel to China. This it does on top of allowing its citizens to travel without a visa to the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom, which encompass business hubs such as London, Zurich, and Paris.
This residency programme has two options of either a US$350,000 investment into real estate which can be sold onto another investor after five years, or a US$200,000 donation option.
The travel access obtained through the Grenada citizenship is equal to that of European residency programmes, offering 90 out of 180 days visa-free travel in the Schengen zone and the UK.
For six months of the year, one can reside in the Schengen Countries, with a break of three months in between. Citizenship and a passport is obtained within 3-4 months, with no minimum stay requirement.
Dependent children under the age of 30 and dependent parents over the age of 55 can also be included in the application.
Grenada is also the only Caribbean program that can offer citizens the right to apply for the United States’ E-2 Visa Programme.
Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship-by-Investment Programme
In 2017, Antigua and Barbudan passport holders enjoy visa-free access, or visa-on-arrival, to around 134 countries and territories, ranking it as the 30th best passport in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.
Passport holders may travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the Schengen Zone countries, among others, with relative ease and without challenging visa requirements.
To qualify for citizenship, the primary applicant must be over 18 years of age, meet the application requirements and select one of the following three investment options:
- A contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF) of a minimum non-refundable amount of US$100 000 for a family of four or US$200 000 for a family of five or more; or
- An investment of at least US$400,000 into one of the approved real estate projects and to be held for a minimum period of 5 years; or
- An investment of a minimum of US$1,500,000 directly into an eligible business as a sole investor or a joint investment involving at least two persons in an eligible business totalling at least US$5,000,000 and each of those persons individually invests at least US$400,000.
The reduction of the contribution to the NDF in October of this year, has made this program one of the quickest and now cheapest of the Caribbean citizenship programs.