International Immigrant Investor Programs

Many countries administer programs that grant residency to foreign investors similar to the United States EB-5 investment visa program. These programs aim to increase a country’s foreign direct investment levels by offering incentives to those willing to make sizeable investments. The requirements of these immigrant investment programs and the residency status that is granted to investors differ from country to country. Some countries grant full permanent residency as part of their investment visa programs, whereas others only grant conditional residency.

Other alternatives to the U.S. EB-5 investment visa program include the investment visa programs of other countries around the world.

Australian Investor Visa

Australia gives foreign investors the opportunity to immigrate through their investment visa category. Unlike the EB-5 program, which leads to permanent residency, the Australian investor visa only allows foreign immigrants four years of temporary residency. After four years, the visa holder may apply for other visa types that could lead to permanent residency.

To qualify for the investment visa, applicants must

  • Make an AUD $1.5 million investment in an Australian company in which they have an ownership stake
  • The investors must be less than 45 years old
  • Have net assets of AUD $2.25 million
  • Have a vocational level of English language proficiency
  • Have at least three years of business management experience
  • Havea positive business record.

Belgium Residency by Investment

Investors may be interested in residency in Belgium, a country with highly developed infrastructure of airports, seaports, roads and railways, and various tax incentives.

To qualify for a residence permit, applicants must

  • Be able to prove personal, business, or professional ties to Belgium. Setting up a company, investing in an existing Belgian company, or working for a Belgian company is a good way to establish business ties.
  • Be highly skilled or key personnel, an entrepreneur, or self-employed individual
  • The company’s share capital must be at least € 18,600, but the applicant does not need to be a shareholder of the company
  • Have a yearly salary must of at least € 37,712 for a highly skilled employee or at least € 62,934 for an employee with a managerial position. In the case of a self-employed individual, there is no minimum salary requirement.

The residency permit will normally be granted within two to three months after the work permit has been issued. The permit is subject to annual renewal at least in the first three years, after which a permanent residence permit could be issued.

The applicant’s spouse and children can join the applicant as residents in Belgium through a family reunion procedure after the residence permit has been issued.

Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Program

Investors have two options to apply for the Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Program, a full investment or a financed investment.

To apply for the full investment, investors must

  • Have a net worth greater than BGN 1,000,000 (€ 511,292)
  • Invest BGN 1,000,000 into a fully guaranteed governmental bond portfolio for five years. At the end of the five-year term, investors receive the full amount back, without accrued interest.

To apply for the financed investment, investors must

  • Have net worth greater than BGN 2,000,000 (€ 1,022,000)
  • Deposit € 180,000, which is used to cover the costs of obtaining a loan from a chartered Bulgarian bank for the remaining funds, adding up to € 511,292. The deposit is not returned to the investors.

The loan period for both investments will last five years. Applicants must have a clear criminal record in their country of residence and country of birth.

Canadian Immigrant Investor Program

Foreign investors can obtain Canadian residency through the Federal Immigrant Investor Program. Unlike many of the other countries’ immigrant investment visa programs, investors receive permanent residency status once they complete the Federal Immigrant Investor Program.

In order to qualify for the program, investors must

  • Have a minimum net worth of CAD $1.6 million
  • Have two years of managerial experience
  • Make a CAD $800,000 investment for five years. This investment is managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and used to facilitate economic growth in Canadian provinces. The full investment amount is returned to the investor without interest after about five years and three months after payment.

There is currently a 700 applicant cap on the Federal Immigrant Investor Program. There is an extensive backlog of Federal Immigrant Investor Program applications which has resulted in an approximately 12 year wait for new applications.

Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program

Investors have two options when it comes to investing in Dominica for economic citizenship; they can apply as a single applicant or a family applicant. As a single applicant, the investor is required to make a non-refundable cash investment of US $100,000. As a family applicant, depending on the number of children involved, the investor must pay US $175,000, US $200,000, or US $350,000.

In order to qualify for the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program, the investor must

  • Be of at least 21 years of age
  • Be of outstanding character
  • Have a clean source of funds and no criminal record
  • Have a basic knowledge of the English language
  • Have a letter of intent addressed to the Minister for Citizenship
  • Have a government-approved promoter/agent.

The processing of applications for economic citizenship can take between 6 to 14 months and all applicants must undergo a personal review.

French Residence Permit Program

Investors can reside in France for 10 years via the French Residence Permit Program. There are no requirements regarding prior residency, residency in France, profession, or language skills. However, investors must be free of any criminal convictions and be in good standing in regard to residency rights on French territory.

Investors must make a long-term and non-speculative investment of at least € 10 million in industrial or commercial assets in France. The investment can be personal or through a company in which the investor owns at least 30 percent of the capital.

Germany’s Investor Visa Program

In order to qualify for Germany’s Investor Visa Program and receive a residency permit, applicants must have the financial means and capability to invest € 1 million into a German project, creating 10 new German job opportunities. The same investment requirement applies for self-employed entrepreneurs as a result of their entrepreneurial business plan.

Applicants must

  • Have a valid passport, relevant birth and marriage certificates, and relevant documents detailing their intent to reside in Germany
  • Have a medical and health insurance policy that must cover them to a value of at least € 30,000
  • Provide documentation demonstrating that they have sufficient means to support themselves and their families while residing in Germany

After holding a residency permit for a minimum of five years and having sufficient knowledge of the German language and social and legal systems, applicants may apply for permanent resident status.

Nationals of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Israel and Japan have the right to apply for a permanent residency visa while remaining as a ‘visitor’ in Germany. Nationals of most other countries are required to apply for and obtain a residency permit prior to entering Germany.

Japan Investor Visa

In order to be qualified, applicants must

  • Make an investment of at least 5 million yen in Japan or already have a place of business in Japan with more than two full-time employees who are Japanese or legal residents. The investment does not necessarily have to establish a company. Without a company, the investment must be actually spent on the purchase of products, real estate, or employee’s salaries, etc.
  • Have more than three years of experience in business management.

The visa lasts for one or three years.

Netherlands Investment Program

Investors can obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands by making a minimum capital investment of € 27,000.

In order to qualify for the Netherlands Investment Program, applicants must

  • Be younger than 60 years of age
  • If the applicant is a businessperson, she or he must own more than 20 percent of the company she or he is considered an independent entrepreneur
  • If the entrepreneur has a monthly income of at least € 1,400, the applicant has the right to include their spouse, unmarried partner, and children under 18 years of age in their application.

New Zealand Investor and Investor Plus Visas

Immigrant investors can obtain their New Zealand permanent residency through the Investor and Investor Plus visa categories. In order to qualify for the visa, applicants must

  • Be 65 years of age or younger
  • Be able to demonstrate at least three years of business experience
  • Meet English language requirements
  • Make a NZ $1.5 million investment to the New Zealand government for a period of five years
  • Be able to demonstrate that they intend, and have the ability, to settle in New Zealand

Foreign investors may also apply for New Zealand’s Investor Plus visa. Investor Plus applicants must make a NZ $10 million investment over a three year investment period. There are no language, age, or experience requirements for Investor Plus visa applicants.

Portugal Golden Visa Residency Permit

Immigrant investors can receive a Golden Visa to reside in Portugal for five years. Applicants must have € 500,000 total in property investments in Portugal, make a transfer of funds of at least € 1 million, or create a minimum of 10 jobs with the investment.

The Golden Visa is extended to family members, namely children, spouse, and dependent family members. The residency permit is granted for an initial period of one year and can be renewed in two-year periods. After five years, the applicant can apply for permanent residency.

South Korea D-8 Residence Visa Program

Investors may apply for an investment business visa, known as a D-8 residence visa, in order to live in South Korea. In order to apply, applicants must establish a company in South Korea to enter a partnership with a Korean firm and invest a minimum of 100 million won (USD $94,100) into the business enterprise.

South Korea also offers an F-5 visa for permanent residency. This visa is open to foreign investors, high level professionals, and directors of multinational corporations. To obtain permanent residency status, applicants must invest the minimum amount of funds as stipulated by the South Korean Ministry of Justice and hire a minimum of five employees who are Korean nationals.

Applicants who have obtained a D-8 business visa and have invested the required amount into a business enterprise can also seek an F-5 visa after being a Korean resident for at least five years and having created at least three employment opportunities.

Spanish Investor Residency Visa

Investors can obtain permanent resident in Spain via the Spanish investor residency visa. To qualify for the visa, the appilcant must:

  • Make an investment of at least € 500,000 in residential real estate in Spain
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no criminal record in Spain or other countries of residence
  • Hold sufficient funds to support both the applicant and immediate family members during residency in Spain

The initial Investor Residency Permit will be valid for two years, after which, the investor may apply for renewal of the permit for another two years. After five years, the investor can apply for permanent residency in Spain.

Swiss Residence Program

Investors interested in living in Switzerland may apply for the Swiss Resident Program. Clients must have a minimum of USD $250,000 at their disposal before applying for the program. Investors are issued residence permit in Switzerland upon paying an “annual lump sum taxation” fee, a minimum of CHF 150,000 (approximately US $170,000) and up to CHF 1 million, depending on the chosen Swiss canton. By paying the lump sum taxation fee to the Swiss canton, there is no need to declare worldwide income and assets to Swiss authorities. This is the main advantage of immigrating to Switzerland compared to other high tax countries.

In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Not be employed or occupied in Switzerland
  • Not have Swiss citizenship, it must be their first time residing in Switzerland
  • Have rented or purchased residence in Switzerland
  • Provide a long list of identification documents, including clean criminal record and good moral character

It takes about three to four months after payment to obtain a resident permit.

United Kingdom Tier 1 (Investor) Visa

Immigrant investors can obtain residency status in the United Kingdom by obtaining a Tier 1 investor visa. Tier 1 visa holders remain in status for about three years (depending on where the application was filed) and must apply to extend their stay if they wish to continue living in the United Kingdom.

Candidates must have personal assets that value at more than £2 million and have £1 million of their own money in the U.K. A minimum of £750,000 must be invested in the U.K. through U.K. government bonds, share capital, or investment capital in active U.K. companies. In order to apply for settlement in the United Kingdom, visa holders must maintain residency for two, three, or five years, depending on their investment amount.

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