An Investment Migration Insider’s View of 36 Years of Citizenship by Investment

From St. Kitts and Nevis to Moldova and Montenegro, look at the CBI programs, and see which countries are next.

In recent years, Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIP) have become the preferred method of obtaining a second passport. Individuals and their families can secure a prosperous future by obtaining citizenship in another country. Citizenship in another country comes with numerous benefits and opportunities. These programmes have attracted investors from all over the world, which is easy to understand why.

Citizenship through investment was first introduced in 1984 by St. Kitts and Nevis, followed shortly after by other countries. St. Kitts and Nevis has built a strong reputation as a platinum leader and is highly regarded by well-established and trusted authorised agencies, such as Savory and Partners. 

The number of CIPs has increased significantly in the past few years, leading to an overwhelming amount of choices for businesspeople and high-income individuals sucha as Moldova, Montenegro, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia citizenship by investment programs. We look back on Citizenship by Investment program history from the past 36 years and see which new countries will soon be joining the ranks.


St Kitts and Nevis: from US $150,000

As the market leader in citizenship by investment programs, the St Kitts model for due diligence and processing has been emulated by citizenship investment programs across the world. To date, over 16,500 passports have been issued. The family donation for St. Kitts and Nevis’ CIP has been reduced from US 195,000 to US 150,000 for a limited time only (until December 31st, 2020).

Ireland: from £1 million

Irish CIP closed in 1998 and was replaced by Irish Immigrant Investor Program in 2000, following controversies surrounding Saudi and Pakistani investors.


Belize: from US $10,000

The Belize CIP followed St Kitts and Nevis’ lead, and ran until 2002 when it was discontinued because of 9/11 concerns. During the 1990s, this Caribbean CIP was by far the cheapest.


Marshall Islands: from US $50,000

Over the program’s 10-year lifespan, around 2,000 passports were sold, mostly to Chinese nationals. There were many complaints of misconduct in the promotion of such an ad hoc CIP by a Taiwanese company. Even though the Marshall Islands and the USA shared a reciprocal visa waiver agreement at that time, citizens from the Marshall Islands needed a visa to enter the United States.


Commonwealth of Dominica: from US $100,000

This Commonwealth country has had a CIP since 1993, making it the second program of its kind in the Caribbean. During the 1990s, the Dominica program was halted, but was restarted a decade later.


Grenada: from US $150,000

When Grenada’s Economic Citizenship Program launched in 2009, there was strong political opposition. The country sold citizenship for just US $40,000. An irregularity led to the collapse of the program in 2001, but its relaunch in 2013 under the name of Grenada Citizenship by Investment was a success. 


Cyprus: from €2.15 million 

Despite launching its CIP far more expensively than its global competition, Cyprus was the first EU member state to do so. Investors with Cypriot economic citizenship are able to take advantage of global mobility, tax optimisation and settlement rights.

As of November 2020, this program has been discontinued.


 Montenegro: from €350,000

Montenegro’s CIP gained very little market traction at an initial price point of €500,000. Under the revised program, introduced during 2018, government donations are now equal to €100,000 and property investments are equal to either €250,000 or €450,000, depending on the location of the project. 


Antigua and Barbuda: from US $100,000

The Caribbean Industrial Program, Antigua and Barbuda, modelled after St. Kitts and Nevis, quickly achieved significant market share as a leading Caribbean program. Foreign investors tend to favor it because of its low cost of obtaining a second citizenship for a family of four starting from as little as $100,000.


Malta: from €1.2 Million

A Maltese CIP is today considered the industry gold standard for CIPs, featuring the highest level of due diligence and the most visa-free destinations of any investment citizenship program. A number of significant changes are being made to the program, including an increase in prices.

Vanuatu: from US $130,000

In the Asia-Pacific Hemisphere, Vanuatu’s CBI program is one of the only ones of its kind. A non-refundable cash contribution to the Development Support Program (DSP) is required from applicants interested in the program.


St Lucia: from US $100,000

Saint Lucia is the fifth nation in the Caribbean to have launched a CIP. A number of investment options are available to investors, including government donations (one-time donations start at US $100,000), bond investments (US $250,000+) and real estate purchases (US $300,000+). By 2019, over 630 investment passports had been issued by the St Lucia CIP. 


Turkey: from US $250,000

Initial investment requirements for the Turkish CIP were $1 million, but due to a lack of market response, the threshold was subsequently lowered to $250,000. Significantly, applicants are only required to maintain investments for three years under the program. By July 2019, it had processed over 1,000 applications, making it one of the most popular CIPs in the world.


Jordan: from US $1 million

Considering the high price tag and the fact that the Jordanian passport does not offer visa-free entry into the EU, it was not expected that the Jordan CIP would have much success. Even though the program was launched over six months ago, it received over 100 applications.

Moldova: from €100,000

The Moldova CIP was priced at just €100,000, but ended up not being as successful as expected. As a result of political pressure from both within and outside the country, the program was discontinued shortly after its launch. 

2020 and beyond…


In the first quarter of 2020, Kenya’s investment promotion agency said that the government might introduce citizenship by investment program. Program objectives include increasing foreign direct investment, stimulating job creation, and reducing sovereign debt. As of yet, there has been no further announcement. 


Greece is also reportedly considering a citizenship by investment program in addition to relaunching its golden visa program. A €2.5 million investment is expected to be required, putting it on a competitive footing with Cyprus’ CIP. 


In a recent announcement, Ivan Simič, the head of Slovenia’s Strategic Council, confirmed that the country’s government is considering a proposal to create a citizenship program through investment. It is possible that the preliminary minimum investment could begin at €1 million. 

In the 36 years since St. Kitts and Nevis first introduced their CIP program, many other countries have followed suit. The program has proven itself to be a popular program among its competitors since it was first introduced in 1984. Citizenship by Investment programs continue to develop and welcome new nations throughout the world that are eager to explore the benefits associated with them. Let’s continue to obtain more CIP programs for another 3 decades.

Do you want to know more? For more information on all of our current citizenship by investment programs, please visit the individual program pages, or contact us for a free consultation.