Aug. 5, 2017 1:05 a.m. ET
Allocating assets to international investments has long been considered a smart move by financial advisors. Virtually all of the new robo-advisories create portfolios that contain international stocks and bonds.
What’s rarely mentioned is that investing overseas can be a way to gain secondary citizenship. Are there travel restrictions on your home country’s passport that you can sidestep? Or are there tax advantages to holding assets in another country? Though you should check with a tax advisor and/or an attorney who specializes in citizenship matters, the answer for high-net-worth individuals and families is probably yes to both queries.
James McKay, a research analyst and consultant who studied 12 countries that allow citizenship by investment, or CBI, in great detail, says there are five Caribbean nations that offer terrific value and fast application processing: Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Lucia. McKay also studied seven other countries that offer CBI: Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Comoros, Cyprus, Malta, and Vanuatu. McKay created the CBI Index to evaluate active citizenship by investment programs. All of the programs require you to leave your investment in the receiving country for a set period of time, usually five years.
The CBI Index allows two modes of comparison. The first is a ranking of the overall performance and desirability of the 12 CBI programs, and the second, shown in the accompanying table, ranks the countries based on seven factors. They include mandatory travel and residence requirements, freedom of movement when using the country’s passport to travel the world, standard of living within the country, investment outlay, timeline to attaining citizenship, ease of processing the CBI application process, and the country’s internal due diligence standards.
THE BARGAIN AMONG these 12 countries is Comoros, a cluster of islands located northwest of Madagascar off Africa’s east coast. It’s a small but densely populated developing nation that relies heavily on fishing and agriculture. You can get the ball rolling toward secondary citizenship with an investment of $45,000. It helps to speak French, as that is one of the three official languages (the other two being Comorian and Arabic). Unfortunately, a Comoros passport does not entitle the holder to visa-free travel to today’s prime business centers, and its standard of living is the lowest among the countries offering CBI.
Dominica requires either a $100,000 contribution to its Economic Diversification Fund, or an investment in government-approved real estate that totals $250,000. Saint Lucia has four investment options, starting with a $100,000 donation to its National Economic Fund. Other options include a minimum of $300,000 in an approved real estate project; the purchase of $500,000 worth of government bonds; or a minimum investment of $3,500,000 in a government-approved enterprise project, such as the building or a port or the establishment of a university.
The dual-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis has the longest-standing CBI program, and its process moves quickly compared with the others. Most applications are processed within three months, says McKay, with the new passport issued in 60 days to those who apply via the VIP Accelerated Option. There’s no need for an interview, a language test, or an education level, and you don’t even need to go to the islands. Potential citizens either contribute $250,000 to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation or buy real estate worth at least $400,000.
Austria, Malta, Cyprus, and Bulgaria rank highly in freedom of movement and standard of living, but all four were in the bottom half of the ranking due to the size of the required investment, the restrictive residency requirements, and the length of time it takes to attain citizenship. Austria requires a donation of eight million to 10 million euros ($9.5 million to $11.9 million) to get started, and being granted citizenship is rare. You’ll also have to sit for an interview conducted in German. Non-EU nationals can apply to the Bulgarian program, which requires an investment of one million to two million Bulgarian lev ($605,000 to $1.2 million) in government bonds or in a local company. Bulgaria allows dual citizenship without restrictions.
There are currently 10 countries that issue residency visas based on a certain size of investment. With the exception of the U.S., the “golden visa” countries are in Europe, and include Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Singapore has not codified a CBI program, but you can get permanent residency if you make a high value business investment. Two years after becoming a permanent resident, you can apply for a passport—but if granted, you have to renounce your previous nationality.
There are websites that can help you decide whether and where to invest in a secondary citizenship. One that I found helpful is Arton Capital (artoncapital.com), which has a program match feature that lets you discover which programs best match your goals. When I went through that process, the site suggested that Dominica and Grenada would be the best fits for me. This site also has a program cost calculator, which spells out the financial hit for each country. I would need about $320,000 for my spouse and me to obtain secondary citizenship in Dominica.
Golden Visas by La Vida (citizenshipbyinvestment.net and goldenvisas.com) partners with local investing and real estate agencies in 40 countries. If you’re interested in exploring citizenship on Malta, the Malta Indefinite Residency Programme site spells out the requirements clearly. Citizenship Advisors (citizenshipadvisors.com) specializes in the Caribbean countries, and connects clients to local real estate brokers. This site is pleasant to scroll through and contains a great deal of information about the five Caribbean nations that have CBI programs.
TRADESTATION HAS REDESIGNED its website, updating TradeStation University as well as its logo. The university is now packed with short videos, which can be sorted for ease of access. Videos are tagged by level (beginner or advanced), and by the platform you’re using (downloadable desktop, web, or mobile). Once you’ve picked the level and the platform, you can check out videos describing the charting capabilities, the scanners, options analysis, or several other topics.
The school was redesigned so that it’s accessible on mobile devices. I found that my tablet was an ideal education platform. So if I choose “Mobile” and “Scanning,” I can select from a variety of prerecorded videos, such as, “Using and Formatting Analysis Techniques in RadarScreen,” as well as check out upcoming webinars. There is a Morning Market Briefing every trading day at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The firm simplified its futures commissions last week, eliminating platform fees and including its powerful RadarScreen at no additional charge. The previous plan had varying contract fees that depended on what you were trading, as well as the volume, but the new plan offers futures trading at $1.50 per contract per side. Nonprofessional subscribers also get free real-time market data from the CME, CBOT, Nymex, and Comex exchanges; previously there were fees for unlimited data.
The tiered pricing plan, which drops commissions to as low as $0.25 per contract per side for very high volume traders, is still available.
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