Malta, in the Top 12 Citizenship by Investment Programs, just a few in the Schengen area
In light of this growing importance, a 2017 study conducted by the Financial Times’ PWM and led by researcher James McKay ranked the top citizenship by investment programs throughout the globe.
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The twelve programs looked at were ranked based on either their “overall performance and desirability,” or seven fundamental “pillars” consisting of freedom of movement, standard of living, minimum investment outlay, mandatory travel or residence, citizenship timeline, ease of processing and due diligence.
The table below lists the citizenship by investment programs analyzed by Professional Wealth Management based on their final scores and overall ranking.
Source: CBI Index (http://cbiindex.com/)
A Closer Look at the Best Citizenship by Investment Programs
Several conclusions can be drawn from the Professional Wealth Management’s results.
First of all, in terms of freedom of movement, the four European Union programs ranked higher than those in the Caribbean, Africa or Oceania.
As stated in the report, “of these four, the highest ranking were also members of the Schengen Area, which, for the most part, operates under a common visa policy.”
Same sort of logic applied to standard of living with the European nations far surpassing their Caribbean, African and Oceania counterparts in key factors such as life expectancy, real GDP growth, gross national income, relative safety and education, to name a few.
In terms of minimum investment outlay, the Europe-based programs fell short considering their hefty investment requirements.
For instance, Cyprus requires a 2 million Euro investment, while Malta calls for one amounting to 1.2 million Euros.
On the other hand, programs like those in Comoros, Vanuatu, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Dominica offer HNWIs citizenship for less than 200 thousand dollars.
Furthermore, most countries except more Malta scored fairly high in the mandatory travel or residency requirement thanks to their flexibility in terms of how much time must be spent there.
Malta, however, scored very poorly as a result of its “more complex physical residence requirements” and a “genuine link test” that “only provides some flexibility to how an individual can demonstrate residence on the island.”
Saint Kitts & Nevis and Vanuatu ranked highest in terms of the application’s turnaround and how fast citizenship is awarded to the HNWI. Both of these countries award citizenship in less than a month.
Comoros, Dominica, Grenada, Cyprus, Antigua & Barbuda, Cambodia and Saint Lucia also ranked highly in the citizenship timeline requirement with passports being issued in between one and five months.
When it comes to ease of processing, the Caribbean programs outranked their counterparts.
According to Professional Wealth Management’s research, “the Caribbean was awarded the highest number of points for its ability to offer applicants streamlined and clear procedures to apply for citizenship. This reflects two important points regarding the region. Firstly, the requirements imposed on applicants in the Caribbean each follow the same model, and secondly, these nations have all committed to making their procedures transparent.”
Finally, in terms of due diligence, “Dominica, Malta, and St Kitts and Nevis scored equally to take first place, owing to their unique data collection and due diligence features.”
For the full research project, have a look at the CBI Index and feel free to download the report.
MALTA CBI Index
Malta is an archipelago located in the central Mediterranean Sea and composed of three major islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Maltese architecture reflects the many cultures that, throughout history, called the country home, with buildings drawing inspiration from differing styles ranging from Italian and French Baroque, to the British Neogothic and Victorian styles.
The country’s official languages are Maltese and English, contributing to Malta’s international character. Despite being one of Europe’s least populated nations, with around 415,000 citizens and only 300 km2 at its disposal, it is also one of the most densely inhabited.
Valletta is the capital of Malta and is often frequented as a political space for European meetings and conferences. It hosted, for example, the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration, where European and African heads of government met to discuss the European migrant crisis. The city is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its concentration of historical sites, particularly dating to the period in which Malta was governed by the Order of St John – also known as the Knights Hospitaller.
A European Union Member since 2004, and a member of the Eurozone since 2008, Malta has a healthy economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts Malta’s real GDP growth rate as 4.1 percent for 2016. Travel and tourism made a total contribution of 27.7 percent of GDP in 2015, expected to grow to 33.8 percent by 2026. Other significant sectors of Malta’s economy include wholesale and retail trade, especially by naval transport, and hospitality services.
History & Law
As the European Commission’s first recognised citizenship by investment programme, Malta’s Individual Investor Programme is a strong contender on the European scene. Moulded in its current form by Legal Notice 47 of 2014, the Programme is capped at 1,800 successful applicants.
Investment Options & Key Fees
The Individual Investor Programme has a single three-tier investment strategy for applicants interested in obtaining citizenship of the island.
First, the applicant must make a €650,000 non-refundable contribution to the Malta National Development and Social Fund, a separate legal entity administered by a Board of Governors charged with using the funds to advance education, research, innovation, social purposes, justice and the rule of law, employment initiatives, the environment, and public health.
Applicants can then either purchase real estate at a minimum value of €350,000 or rent property at a cost of at least €16,000 per annum. Whether the applicant chooses to purchase or rent, the real estate must be maintained for a period of five years, during which time it may not be let or sublet.
To complete the investment portfolio, the applicant must also acquire Government bonds, stocks, or special purpose vehicles for a value of €150,000, to be retained for a period of five years.
As well as meeting a qualifying contribution for investment, applicants must also pay due diligence fees, used to assess their suitability for citizenship. They must also purchase global health insurance, to be prolonged indefinitely.
Timeline & Processing Body
Applications for citizenship of Malta are processed by Identity Malta, a procedure that takes at least one year as applicants must show 12 months’ residence on the island. A residence card is issued to enable applicants to live on the island prior to gaining citizenship.
Maltese citizenship does not come at the price of one’s previous nationality, as dual nationality was allowed in 2000. It brings a number of benefits including the right to live and work in the European Union, and visa-free travel to the Schengen Area and a total of over 165 countries and territories
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