The 5 most popular countries for South Africans to buy citizenship and emigrate to

There is a growing concern among South Africans that increased land invasions and demands for expropriation without compensation might soon become a threat not only to rural and agricultural land, but also to residential property.

This, together with the very real possibility of a splintered opposition party to oppose this, has led to an increase in the number of South African residents looking at investment opportunities abroad that will create a secure environment for their families to live in.

Residency and citizenship by investment is one such option, and Monarch&Co have remained market leaders in Southern Africa in this field. Since the company’s inception over 10 years ago, they have developed a large portfolio of country programmes aimed specifically to suit the needs of the South African market.

Having started out in 2008 with just one investment and residence opportunity on the island of Malta, their extensive portfolio now includes Portugal, Cyprus, USA, Grenada and Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda.

“We have selected the most appealing and relevant country programmes which we feel will meet the needs and requirements of most South Africans,” said James Bowling, CEO and founder of Monarch&Co.

The most popular of these programmes running currently are Portugal, Cyprus, USA, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica.

Bowling noted that Portugal allows for residency that leads to citizenship with packaged opportunities in the €350,000 (R5.4 million) option that offer attractive yields and growth potential, some with guaranteed yields.

According to Bowling, of these Cyprus has been its most attractive EU citizenship programme to date for South Africans, however it has a heavy entry level investment requirement of €2 million (R30.7 million).

“It is the quickest and easiest EU citizenship programme preferred by those clients with the pockets to fund such an investment option,” said Bowling.

“It must be understood that with an EU passport, the holder can live and work in any other EU country.”

“The USA has always, and continues to be a popular destination with many investors for all the obvious reasons. What makes it less enticing however is the qualifying EB-5 programme structure, the tax implications, and the requirement to spend at least 6 months per year there during the green-card stage.

“For this reason many investors prefer to go for a soft entry into the US through the E2-Treaty which is available in some counties and allows the applicant to reap the benefit of being able to live in the US without incurring as many of the drawbacks,” Monarch&Co said.

Unfortunately South Africa does not have such a Treaty with the US and the only other country that does is Grenada in the Carribean, one of the country programmes offered by Monarch&Co.

The Caribbean programmes have recently become more popular with South African investors as they become aware of the many benefits derived from an investment that will give full citizenship including passports from within two to six months, Bowling said.

“There are many travel and tax benefits linked to these programmes too. At the moment  countries in the region are offering a bunch of specials as they compete aggressively with each other to attract investors.”

Having the unique regional benefit of an E2-Treaty with the US, Grenada can offer a very attractive investment option, Bowling said.

“It does however come in as a more pricey option than those of Dominica and Antigua and starts from $350,000. Dominica and Antigua both offer a very reasonable property investment starting from €200,000 for a family application. In addition to this, Antigua has a donation option that starts from €100,000.”

These are very limited time reductions from the usual programme pricing.

“We’ve noticed that the currently low investment entry points, together with the stronger rand and a growing concern about South Africa's future, has lead to a renewed interest from our clients looking to hedge their lifestyles and secure a plan B,” said Bowling.

Read: The 7 best countries to buy your way into residency or citizenship in 2018 – and how much it costs

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The 5 most popular countries for South Africans to buy citizenship and emigrate to