Immigrant Investor Program Explained

Immigration by investment has become increasingly popular over the years. Many countries around the world run immigrant investor programs similar to the United States EB-5 investment visa program. These programs — also known as investor visas or passport by investment —  offer legal residency and even passports to international families, in exchange for a qualifying investment in the nation. This guide explains everything you need to know about immigrant investor programs.

What is an immigrant investor program?

An immigrant investor program (IPP) is a way to attract foreign capital and investors to the country by providing legal residence and citizenship in exchange. Immigrant by investment programs are also popularly referred to as citizenship by investment, golden visa, or passport by investment programs.

Benefits of applying to an immigrant investor program

The investor visa brings many advantages, including:

Legal residency & passport through an investment Legal residency & passport through an investment
Ability to live, work and study in the country you invest in Ability to live, work and study in the country you invest in
Visa-free travel to 140+ destinations worldwide Visa-free travel to 140+ destinations worldwide
Freedom of opportunities for you and your family Freedom of opportunities for you and your family
Potential for high returns on your investment Potential for high returns on your investment

Investor visa requirements

There are a few investor visa requirements you must factor in before picking a country investor visa program. Program requirements differ from country to country, with some programs offering residency status while others offer immediate passports to investors. 

The one common requirement is that you must make a qualifying investment to receive residency or citizenship via an immigrant investor program.

The type of investments you can make is usually in job creation, purchase of property, non-refundable financial contributions, or venture capital fund investment. The money received from the investor visa programs is then funneled into the respective country’s economic development and welfare programs.

Additional investor visa requirements:

  • Applicant must be over 18 years old
  • Must pass a detailed criminal background check
  • Possess good health
  • Meet the minimum investment requirement
  • Submit all required documents for the investor visa application

International immigrant investor programs

From Cyprus’s attractive passport by investment scheme to Antigua and Barbuda’s affordable program that grants you a passport in under four months, here are some of the best immigrant investor programs to consider. 

Cyprus IIP

Cyprus’s investor immigration program is an extremely attractive option for high-net-worth individuals who wish to get a high-ranking EU passport in under six months. Also referred to as Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program, Cyprus offers the quickest, safest route to citizenship of a European country through a minimum investment of €2,200,000. The investment itself is a mix between investing €2 million in real estate, donating €100,000 to the Government’s Research and Development Fund, and €100,000  to the Land Development Organisation.

Cyprus also runs an investor residence visa program as an affordable alternative. Investors can buy property at the minimum value of €300K and obtain legal residency for themselves and their family members. The Cyprus investor residence visa is perfect for individuals whose primary goal isn’t to invest a lump sum of money or acquire second passports.  For more information, check out our Cyprus citizenship by investment guide here.


Malta IIP

The Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services  (citizenship investment scheme) is another popular investor visa program that attracts dozens of investors each year. As a safe and stable EU country, Malta’s passport is extremely powerful, ranking fourth in the world in terms of travel freedom. Thanks to Malta’s investor visa scheme, qualifying investors can get passports in under a year in exchange for a €690,000 + costs minimum investment.

Similar to Cyprus, Malta also offers an investor residence visa program. Non-EU citizens can acquire an EU residence card with visa-free travel within Europe’s Schengen Area for a minimum combined investment of €550K (mix of government bonds, real estate, and non-refundable government contribution).  For more information, explore our guide to Malta’s citizenship by investment scheme here

Spain IIP

The Spain immigrant investor program — also known as the Spain Golden Visa — is a popular European investor residence program granting international families with Spanish residency in exchange for a real estate investment of €500K. Spain is a fantastic country to consider if you’re looking for residency since it boasts a high quality of life, affordable living costs, and low crime rates.  The Spain immigrant investor program can lead to permanent residency after five years, provided that the program requirements are met. A Spanish passport is granted after living ten years in the country. 

For more information on Spain’s investor residency program, check out our Spain Golden Visa guide.

Take a look at our Spain Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Antigua and Barbuda IIP

As an island nation located in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda runs a hugely popular immigrant investor program that gives citizenship to investors in exchange for a $100,000 investment in the government’s charitable fund. You can also choose to invest more money, like investing $400,000 into an approved real estate project (to be held for at least five years). Typically, you are granted citizenship within five months from the date of your application and your immediate family is eligible for passports too. 

For more information, explore our Antigua and Barbuda citizenship guide.

Dominica IIP

Dominica’s immigrant investor program is internationally acclaimed for offering the most value to foreign investors. With investments starting from $100,000, single applicants gain citizenship in this slice of paradise within four months. With excellent real estate options, world-class beaches, delicious cuisine, and proximity to the US, living in Dominica is perfect for people looking to retire or live in peace. A Dominica passport gives you visa-free travel access to over 120 destinations including the UK, Europe’s Schengen Area, and Hong Kong. 

For more information, take a look at our guide to getting citizenship in Dominica.

Saint Kitts and Nevis IIP

Saint Kitts and Nevis offers the most flexible program requirements for the investor visa. To get citizenship in Saint Kitts and Nevis, investment options start from $150,000, with families typically opting to invest in property at the minimum value of $400,000. You don’t need to have any business experience to apply for the visa, nor is there a residence requirement before, during, or after the application. A key bonus of the program is that all dependents can be included in the application, as well as visa-free travel to more than 120 countries.

For more information, check out our Saint Kitts and Nevis immigrant investor program guide

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (USA)GCS immigration by investment USA

The American dream may very well be possible and investment immigration US may just be the way to get there. The requirements are twofold. Firstly, you will need to make a lawful capital investment in an enterprise that is equal to or more than $1.8 million (or $900,000 if investing in a Targeted Employment Area ‘TEA, this is for projects in areas located in rural areas or that have a high unemployment rate, with a national unemployment rate of 150%). Secondly, you will need to plan to create or save ten permanent full-time job positions for qualified US workers. Key benefits include being able to enter and leave the US as a permanent resident, being able to work, travel, and live anywhere in the US, and a path to citizenship is possible for yourself and your family. 

For more information, you can consult our USA EB5 immigrant investor guide.


GCS Immigration by investment UKUK IIP (Immigration by Investment Program)

The UK has its own version of the “UK Golden Visa” or immigration by investment UK, allowing high net worth individuals to obtain residence in the UK, with eventual citizenship possible, in exchange for an investment in the nation’s economy. Applicants need to invest a lump sum of money and maintain the investment during their permanent residence in the UK to be eligible. Specifically, the investment needs to be in active and trading UK-registered companies to obtain permanent residence. 

For more details take a look at our UK citizenship by investment ultimate guide


Canada IIP (Immigration by Investment Program)

Immigration by investment in Canada is definitely possible. Widely considered as one of the best countries in the world to live in, Canada has much to offer investors. For a government bond contribution of CAD 1.2 million, under the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP). Advantages of the program include affordable, high-quality education, vibrant and multicultural cities, and as a country with one of the highest welfare standards of living in the world. Through Canadian immigration by investment, Canada is an excellent country to do business where you have access to the entire North American market and can apply for citizenship following three years of the five-year residence period.

What is the best investor visa program?

Portugal immigrant investor program

The best investor visa program by far is Portugal’s investor residence visa program. Also commonly referred to as the Portugal Golden Visa or residency by investment scheme, the program has numerous advantages including:

  • A range of affordable investment options starting from €280k
  • High-performing real estate market making a real estate investment for residency extremely valuable
  • The right to live, work and study in Portugal
  • Freedom of opportunity for you and your immediate family (they qualify for the program too)
  • Ability to travel anywhere in Europe’s Schengen Area
  • Tax benefits with the NHR tax regime.
  • Investing in this visa grants you life in a beautiful sunny nation with low crime rates, affordable living costs, and excellent quality of life 

For more information, check out our guide to Portugal’s Golden Visa below.

Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Learn more about our investor visa services

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship-by-investment solutions for international families. 

With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we help clients from around the world acquire immigrant investor visas while diversifying their portfolio with robust investments.

Learn more about our investor visa services by speaking to one of our dedicated consultants.

Investment based immigration is increasingly popular. Many countries are now providing immigration through investment pathways to secure residency and citizenship. You can see some more articles by us that may interest you here:

Frequently asked questions about immigrant investor programs

What is migration by investment?

Migration by investment is when investors are granted residence or citizenship rights in exchange for a substantial investment.

Is investing in a visa worth it?

Investing in a visa is totally worth it if you’d like to expand your freedoms of opportunities, as well as enjoy the right to live in another country and travel freely to over 120 destinations worldwide.

What’s the best investor visa to obtain?

The best investor visa to obtain is the Portugal investor visa. This is because Portugal has many affordable investment options to choose from, with a potential to earn back some of the money in investment returns. To top it off, Portugal is voted as one of the best countries in the world to live in.

What is residency through investment?

Residency through investment is when you invest in a country in exchange for legal residency. Many countries run these type of programs, called ‘golden visas’ or ‘residency by investment’. For example, the Portugal Golden Visa grants residency through a qualifying investment.