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The ongoing economic crisis in the European Union has led the governments of Ireland and Portugal to ease the path to residence – and eventual citizenship – for well-heeled migrants. Spain is considering a similar initiative, which is even more attractive due to lower investment requirements.
Ireland has introduced several initiatives to wealthy investors into its depressed economy. In exchange, the government will give you and your family a residence permit. And, if you don’t mind spending at least five years in Ireland’s cold, damp weather, you’ll eventually qualify for Irish citizenship and passport.
The least expensive option requires that you make a one-time contribution (not an investment) of €500,000 (about US$650,000) to a qualifying public project. Alternatively, you can:
- Invest €1 million in a new Irish business, including one that you establish
- Invest €2 million in a five-year bond that pays 1% interest annually, or
- Invest €1 million in an investment that consists of €500,000 of real estate and €500,000 in government securities. A single €1 million investment in distressed property may also qualify. You cannot invest in rental property; you must either live in the property or invest in real estate that will clearly benefit Ireland.
You need not actually live in Ireland to maintain legal residence under any of these initiatives. However, to prove entitlement to Irish citizenship and passport, you must demonstrate five years of physical residence in Ireland over an eight-year period. You must also demonstrate good conduct and some level of integration of fluency in English, but this latter requirement will be easy for most of our readers to meet.
Ireland is a member of the European Union, so an Irish passport entitles you to live and work in any EU country. For non-U.S. citizens, it also provides visa-free access to the United States and Canada. Unlike numerous other EU countries, Ireland also permits dual citizenship.
For more information, click here. The Nestmann Group, Ltd. does not currently assist with acquiring Irish residence.
The rules to acquire a “golden residence permit” in Portugal require you to make one of the following investments in Portugal and maintain it for five years or longer:
- Acquire real estate valued at €500,000 or more
- Transfer €1 million or more of capital to a bank in Portugal or investment in shares on the Portuguese stock exchange
- Create a business in Portugal resulting in 30 or more full-time jobs for Portuguese residents.
As with Ireland, you must be lawfully resident in Portuguese territory for an extended period to qualify for residence. The minimum period of physical residence to qualify is six years. In addition, you must demonstrate substantial integration into Portuguese life, including proven proficiency in the Portuguese language
Like Ireland, Portuguese citizens may live and work in any other EU country and enter the United States and Canada visa-free.
For more information, click here. You can download a brochure describing the options for the golden residence permit here. The Nestmann Group, Ltd. does not currently assist with acquiring Portuguese residence.
I’ve saved the best for last. Spain is considering granting residence permits to foreigners who invest €160,000 more in a Spanish home. The proposal is now before the Spanish parliament, so it’s unlikely to come into effect before the end of 2012. With nearly 670,000 unsold dwelling in Spain, there are plenty of homes to choose from to qualify.
Unfortunately, you must reside in Spain for 10 years to qualify for Spanish citizenship and passport. In addition, you must give up previous nationalities when you become a Spanish citizen.
I believe the initiatives taken by Ireland, Portugal, and possibly Spain are a harbinger of developments to come. As the global economic crisis slowly grinds forward, more and more countries will begin competing for well-heeled foreign investment, and offer legal residence as part of the package. Keep reading our blog – we’ll keep you posted.
Mark Nestmann [send him mail] is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business Administration.