European citizenship by investment: Latest news

Just a few months ago, international investors had several options in regards to obtaining a European passport, with Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria and Montenegro each offering different programmes in terms of citizenship and residency. That being said, there have been some major changes in the way these programmes are run, with some programmes even being cancelled. So what now? We will go through the biggest developments in terms of the immigration programmes in Europe and what it means for future investors. 


Cyprus and Malta 

You might have seen in the news that Europe’s citizenship by investment programmes are undergoing drastic changes, with Cyprus and Malta’s citizenship by investment programmes being cancelled whilst they are investigated by the European Union. This is a result of a revelation that certain Cypriot officials had been abusing the system and allowing people who did not pass their due diligence checks, to obtain a Cypriot passport in exchange for money. Whilst it may be easy to say that these events have put into question the integrity of the Cypriot programme and citizenship by investment programmes as a whole, it is important to note that they were the result of a few corrupt politicians rather than a problem with the programmes themselves. Whilst Malta and Cyprus are facing problems with their citizenship by investment programmes leading to both being cancelled, these are not the only routes to gaining a European passport, with several other countries offering different programmes. 


This small nation offers a quick route to gaining a European passport, taking only 3 months from the start of the application. A Montenegran passport allows its citizen’s global mobility with visa-free access to 123 countries. Unlike other European countries, there is a ‘no stay requirement’ which makes it the process a lot easier. Applicants just need to make a EUR 250,000 real estate investment plus a EUR 100,000 government donation. This makes the programme a lot more affordable than the previous programmes that Cyprus and Malta delivered, especially when one considers that Montenegran citizenship is hereditary, and can be passed on to your children. This makes it not just an investment for yourself, but an investment for your future generations. 


There have also been some big changes in regards to Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ programme. Whilst it used to be the case that individuals could invest anywhere as long as the sum was over EUR 500,000. As of 2021, this will no longer be the case. The government has taken Porto,  Lisbon and some coastal areas off of the approved list for the residency by investment programme, therefore those wishing to gain Portuguese residency will have to buy property elsewhere. Whilst initially it may seem that this is limiting, in actual fact, this new change will be beneficial to both applicants and the country itself. Since Portugal’s golden visa programme has started, real estate in these areas is coming at a premium, meaning there is little actual investment to be made.
Another big change that has been implemented, is that the Portuguese government has simplified the granting and renewal of residence permits for investment activity.  Until now, a visa was initially valid for 1 year, whereby the applicant had to spend 7 days in the country, after which it could be renewed for another 2 years, and then another 2 years, after which citizenship could be applied for. This has now changed so that an applicants visa is now valid for 2 years, which can be extended for 2 years at a time. After spending 5 years as a resident in the country,


Another option for obtaining European citizenship is through Bulgaria’s immigration programme. This involves investing over 500,000 euros in a Governmental bond portfolio for an investment period of five years. This can be paid in one go, or through financing options with a European bank. This will allow individuals to gain a residency visa within 6 months and full citizenship within 2 years. 

Whilst it is clear that several of the European immigration programmes are going through a period of change, there are still various options and routes available for individuals and their families to gain a European passport.

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