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.
Investors may obtain citizenship by investment in the independent Commonwealth state of Antigua & Barbuda, located in the Eastern Caribbean. To qualify, applicants must be over 18-years-old, meet the program’s application requirements, and select one of the following three investment options:
- Invest a minimum of US$200,000 into the country’s National Development Fund (NDF); OR
- Invest at least US$400,000 into an approved real estate project (to be held for at least five years); OR
- Invest at least US$1.5 million into an eligible business as a sole investor. If making a joint investment, the investment must total at least $5 million, with each investor investing at least $400,000.
The applicant’s spouse, minor children, and dependent parents or grandparents may also be included. Dependent children between 18 and 26 who are attending college, and physically/mentally challenged dependent children over 18 are also eligible.
A passport from Antigua & Barbuda is valid for five years and the recipient has visa-free travel to 131 countries. After receiving citizenship, the investor must spend at least five days in the country in order to be eligible for passport renewal.
Qualified workers from countries not in the European Economic Area (EEA) may apply for Austria’s Red-White-Red Card. The Card is valid for 12 months and gives the holder fixed-term settlement and employment with a specified employer in Austria. Examples of qualified applicants include:
- Highly qualified workers.
- Skilled workers in shortage occupations.
- Graduates of universities and universities of applied sciences in Austria.
Applicants must also meet Austria’s general residence requirements:
- A monthly income of €882.78 for singles, €1,323.58 for couples, and €136.21 for each child.
- Health insurance coverage that provides benefits in Austria.
- Evidence of accommodations adequate for the worker’s family, e.g. a lease contract.
A spouse/same-sex partner and minor children, including adopted children and stepchildren, may be included in the applications. Holders of Austria’s Red-White-Red Card may eventually apply for the Red-White-Red Card plus, which grants one-year of settlement in Austria, along with self-employment and gainful employment not limited to a specific employer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Third-country nationals can invest in the Republic of Cyrus and receive full Cypriot citizenship. In order to qualify, the individual must meet one of these investment requirements:
- Investment in Cyprus real estate, land development and infrastructure projects (minimum €2 million); OR
- Investment in Cypress businesses or companies (minimum €2 million); OR
- Investment in Alternative Investment Funds or financial assets of Cypress-based companies or organizations licensed by CySec (minimum €2 million); OR
- A combination of the above investments, with a minimum total amount of €2 million.
Applicants must also meet certain other requirements to obtain citizenship, such as having a clean criminal record, and owning a permanent Cyprus-residence that cost at least €2 million, plus V.A.T. Applicants have the option to include their spouse and children, and parents can also be included with an additional permanent residence purchase of €500.000.
Successful applicants earn citizenship in a European Union member state, giving them the right to live in all 28 EU countries, and visa-free travel to 159 countries worldwide.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Entrepreneurs seeking to relocate to Hong Kong to establish or join in a business may apply for the Special Administrative Region’s Entry for Investment Visa. This option is a work permit that is issued to the business owner as an employee of their own Hong Kong company. There is no minimum investment requirement.
In order to qualify, the entrepreneur must have a good education background, i.e. a first degree in the related field. They also must demonstrate they can make a substantial contribution to the Hong Kong economy, and must submit documentation such as a two-year business plan, business turnover, investment sum, financial resources, number of jobs created locally, and, if applicable, introduction of new technology or skills.
In addition, applicants must meet Hong Kong’s general immigration requirements such as having a clean criminal record and holding valid travel documents from their home country. The entrepreneur may also bring their spouse and their unmarried children under 18-years-old.
The Investment as Entrepreneurs Visa is generally valid for two years, but may be renewed for as long as the business remains viable. After seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong, the investor may apply for Hong Kong permanent residence.
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.
Located off the coast of France, Jersey is a Crown dependency of the United Kingdom. High-net-worth individuals can apply to become high-value residents of Jersey by satisfying the following criteria:
- Making tax revenues in accordance with Article 135A of Jersey’s Income Tax Law.
- Demonstrating that Jersey residency will benefit the island in some way.
- Proving annual worldwide earnings in excess of £625,000 per year, which must be sustainable income.
Once the individual has become a High Value Resident and has lived in Jersey for 10 years, they may apply for “Entitled” status. This is granted by Jersey’s Chief Minister if he is satisfied that doing so will have a social or economic benefit to the island. Entitled status allows High Value Residents to buy, sell or lease any property in Jersey as their main place of residence, and they can work anywhere without needing permission to be employed.
The Malaysia My Second Home Program allows foreigners meeting certain financial and medical criteria to live in the country on a visa for up to 10 years. Successful applicants may openly travel in and out of Malaysia on a multiple-entry social visit pass, and the visa is renewable.
Citizens of any country recognized by Malaysia may apply, and may include their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21. The rules differ for the main applicants depending on their age:
- Applicants under age 50 must: Open a fixed deposit account in Malaysia of RM300,000 and maintain a minimum balance of RM150,000 from the second year onwards and throughout their stay in Malaysia.
- Applicants over age 50 can: Either open a fixed deposit account of RM150,000, or provide evidence of a RM10,000 per month pension from an offshore government. From the second year onwards, the participant must maintain a minimum balance of RM100,000 throughout their stay in Malaysia.
Applicants and their families must also submit a medical report from a Malaysia-based hospital or clinic, and must have valid insurance coverage.
The Malta Individual Investor Program grants citizenship to individuals and their families who contribute to the economic and social development of Malta. Citizens of Malta have access to visa-free travel to more than 160 countries around the world, and the right to establishment in all 28 EU countries.
To qualify for citizenship in Malta through this program, the investor must be at least 18-years- old, and must be a resident of Malta for the 12 months before they obtain citizenship. They must also meet these investment requirements:
- Acquire real estate in Malta worth at least €350,000, (to be held for a minimum of five years) – OR – lease residential property for five years with an annual rent of minimum €16,000.
- Make a contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (€650,000 for the main applicant, with additional contributions for family members).
- Make a €150,000 investment in bonds, stocks, or special purpose vehicles, (to be held for a minimum of five years).
The principal applicant can include their spouse, minor dependents, dependents over 55-years- old (e.g. parents), and unmarried dependents between the age of 18 and 26-years-old.
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.
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.
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.
Investors who are interested in starting a business or investing in Singapore may apply for Singapore permanent residence through the country’s Global Investor Program. There are two investment options:
- Invest at least S$2.5 million in a new business or to expand an existing business; OR
- Invest at least S$2.5 million in an approved GIP fund, which invests in Singapore companies.
Investors must have both a successful entrepreneurial background and a substantial business track record in order to apply. They may include their spouse and their children under 21-years- old on their application for permanent residence.
Successful applicants will receive a renewable five-year reentry permit, which allows for open travel in and out of Singapore.
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.
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.
Located in the West Indies, St. Kitts & Nevis allows investors who make a substantial contribution to the Federation to apply for citizenship and a passport. The investor must be at least 18-years-old, must meet the minimum investment requirements, and must also meet other application criteria. There are two options for investment:
- Invest in designated St. Kitts & Nevis real estate with a value of at least US$400,000; OR
- Make a contribution to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF). For single applicants, a nonrefundable contribution of US$250,000 is required and the amount increases as family members are included – up to US$450,000 for an applicant with seven family members.
Previous business experience is not required, and there is also no St. Kitts & Nevis residence requirement before, during, or after the application. All dependents may be included in the application. The benefits of the St. Kitts & Nevis investment program include full citizenship for life, and visa-free travel to more than 120 countries.
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.
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.
Entrepreneurs who want to set up and run a business in the United Kingdom may also obtain residency through the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa program. The applicant must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply, and must meet certain eligibility requirements such as being at least 16-years-old.
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa is valid for three years and four months, with the option to extend the visa for another two years. The applicant may bring their dependent family members. Once the entrepreneur has been in the United Kingdom for five years, they can apply for indefinite leave to remain.