Advice and Opinion Mauritius

Second residency and citizenship-by-investment popularity on the rise

The realisation of the implications of junk status brought about by the successive credit downgrades by the S&P and Fitch ratings agencies following recent political shifts, has boosted the demand for second residency and citizenship-by-investment options.

While most of South Africa’s wealthy citizens do not want to leave the country, and prefer to stay, Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients, says that clients are now looking for a Plan B option, and fast.

“In the last two to three years, the options have grown for the wealthy who can now gain access to major passports to the European Union by way of investment, without emigrating”, says Ms Read Thaele. Mauritius and Seychelles are no longer the only options.

From as little as EUR 300,000, you can access the European Union via residency programs in Malta or Cyprus. An investment of EUR 2 million, can give you fast tracked citizenship in as little as four months in the case of Cyprus and fourteen months for Malta (from EUR 1 million). A Maltese passport currently ranks amongst the top ten most powerful passports in the world, according to the Henley Visa Restrictions Index.

Residency options also extend to other attractive destinations such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain. There are options too of getting a foothold in other sought-after areas such as the UK, although these cost considerably more and require physical immigration.

“Alternatively, you could choose somewhere in the Caribbean with Antigua and Barbuda offering citizenship in 4-6 months at an investment from USD 400,000 into real estate (offering yields and a return). Your new passport will give you global visa-free travel to over 130 countries including the Euro/Schengen Zone and the UK”, says Ms Read Thaele.

For the same value, you can also look at Saint Kitts and Nevis that offers direct citizenship with no prior residency period required and with similar visa-free travel benefits.

Grenada is another attractive option, she says. The required investment starts at just USD 200,000 with fast-tracked citizenship in just two months. The passport offers visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, the UK and many other Commonwealth countries. This fabulous location also offers a tax friendly regime with no personal income tax on top of an idyllic location.

With the current rand allowance, South Africans are able to take out ZAR10 million annually (ZAR 20 million for couples) plus their ZAR 1 million discretionary allowance and, with the rand in freefall, she says that the longer you wait, the more Rands it will cost you.