For a lot of people there is ongoing worry about what the future holds for them and their families. Political and social instability is a common daily concern for many. This is why the industry of obtaining a secondary citizenship and residency by investment is growing at an increasing rate, as it provides solutions to these concerns – offering wealth protection, security, opportunity and stability.

The countries offering these residency and citizenship schemes are benefitting through international investment and economic stimulation. Therefore, new programs are frequently being announced as the benefits for both the country and the investor are apparent.

It is important to understand that programs vary immensely, not only with their policies but also with the types of investment and the amount invested. Generally residency schemes are more affordable as they do not guarantee citizenship, and if citizenship is able to be achieved it can take years and have some requirements associated with it. This may be in the form of a language test, maintenance of a real estate investment or a period of residency.

There are some key differences that investors need to be aware of when deciding between residency and citizenship programs.

Residency can be granted in the form of temporary residency or permanent residency. Temporary residency is for a defined period of time and it can be renewable but not not in all cases. Some programs start with a temporary residency that over time, providing the criteria is met, can be moved to a permanent residency. For example, the Portugal Golden Visa starts off with temporary residency. On the other hand, permanent residency is valid for a lifetime, doesn’t have an expiry date and in most cases there are no requirements to maintain this type of residency. The Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP) offers permanent residency through investment of Government bonds, Government contribution and the rental of property. It is important to note that residency doesn’t grant a passport and may or may not give the investor rights within the country that a citizen may get.

Citizenship programs on the other hand offers far more benefits to the investor, although this often comes at a higher cost. Citizenship is far more powerful as it grants the investor (and potentially the family) a passport and gives them all the rights that the citizens of the country enjoy such as access to public healthcare and education. In addition, citizens can travel with their new passport which in most cases offers far more visa free travel than their existing passport does. In most cases dual citizenship is allowed therefore the investor does not need to give up their existing nationality and in addition the citizenship can be passed on to future generations and is irrevocable.

To make a well-informed decision on the best option for the individual investor, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. The purpose for seeking secondary residency or citizenship needs to be well defined and understood, as well as the budget and timeframe. Taking all these considerations into account will enable the investor with strong guidance from their advisor to make the best choice for their future security and happiness.