Many countries are offering the option of a golden visa which grants citizenship rights within a specific country. We look at which one offer the most comprehensive visa-free travel and how much it will cost you.
With any article of this type, particularly one that relies on a considerable amount of data, we’re always pleased when another company has done the hard work, and for this article, it’s Astons, the experts in alternative residency and citizenship acquisition.
Their team has looked into what each country is offering, in particular, visa-free travel and handily highlighted the oft-forgotten costs to join the golden visa programmes.
To start things, let’s look at the United Kingdom. Having UK citizenship will allow you visa-free access to 185 countries. However, British citizenship doesn’t come cheap. To gain UK citizenship you’ll need to have resided in the UK for five to six years and, ‘hang on to your hats’, you’ll need a minimum investment of two-million pounds!
However, not every country is so stringent or costly when it comes to gaining citizenship via a golden visa. Some countries requirements are surprisingly within the reach of most.
For the most abundant level of visa-free travel, Austria is the best investment option. While it can take two to three years to secure citizenship at a minimum investment of a ‘whopping’ £2.7m, investors aren’t required to hold residency before gaining citizenship. Once they do hold citizenship, they can access 187 other nations completely visa-free.
Malta also makes for one of the best golden visa investment options for visa-free travel, if not better. With a minimum investment of just over £1m and investors able to gain citizenship through investment in only 14 months, the nation also provides visa-free travel to 184 other countries.
Gaining citizenship via a golden visa with Cyprus (174) and Bulgaria (171) also opens up a great deal of visa-free travel, while Saint Kitts and Nevis is the best Caribbean citizenship in this respect. Not only does citizenship for the Caribbean nation allow visa-free travel to 156 other countries, but it takes 53 days on average to secure and for a minimum investment of just £114,000.
While nine other nations allow for direct citizenship via investment and access to between 51-151 additional nations visa-free, the alternative is to gain residency via investment in a nation that falls within the Schengen Area.
The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European nations that have abolished their internal borders with each other to allow for free and unrestricted movement.
By gaining residency via investment within one of these nations, it allows investors visa-free travel across 26 countries, except for Jersey (4) and Ireland (1).
Managing Director of Astons, Arthur Sarkisian, commented: “There are numerous reasons that someone might look to gain citizenship through investment. However, the ability to travel to over 180 countries without requiring a visa is undoubtedly up there as one of the most attractive.
We’ve seen this ability to travel unrestricted grow in popularity over recent months for those looking to escape life and the current restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
Of course, in normal circumstances, the primary benefit is being able to travel for business without the need to deal with the red tape of visa requirements. Unfortunately, this activity has been dampened by the current landscape.
Regardless, visa-free travel remains a strong pull for those looking to gain citizenship through investment and depending on individual requirements there are plenty of options that can provide this benefit at a range of investment levels and timeframes.”
So, which Golden Visa do you go for?
As shown in the table above, the costs to get a golden visa do vary wildly and some of them offer a much smaller number of countries you can visit without a visa. Caribbean countries look to offer the most cost-effective ways to gain foreign citizenship and the investment requirements are in the main, less than some of the European countries. It all comes down to whether you want visa-free access to as many countries as possible or whether access to some or most will suffice.
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