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Investor Visas

What are Investor Visas?

Most countries around the world offer several ways for foreign nationals who want to relocate to their country to do so through investment. When we say “through investment” we mean that the foreign national must make a minimum investment into the country’s economy and after doing so, the country will issue a visa to the foreign national to allow him/her and his/her family to come to the country. These investor visas can be temporary or permanent and many can also lead to citizenship in the new country.

Of course, every country’s investor visa program is different. For instance, some countries require the investor to have previous successful investment experience whereas other countries do not impose this requirement. Or, some nations direct the investment into a specific industry whereas other nations allow the investor to choose where the funds are placed.

Regardless of any one country’s specific parameters, there are a number of requirements that are common to the majority of investment programs.

First, nearly all investment visa programs have established some threshold for an acceptable investment amount. While this amount can vary greatly – from $3,000,000USD to $500,000USD – the end result is the same: the required amount must be met in order for the foreign national to receive the investor visa.

Second, the investment must be sustained, which means that the foreign national cannot simply invest the funds, receive the visa, and immediately withdraw the funds or liquidate the investment. Rather , the foreign national must keep the funds in the investment usually for a specific number of years and the failure to do so could lead to the state that suspends the foreign citizen’s visa, or does not allow the foreign citizen the possibility of renewing or extending the visa.

Third, all investment visa programs allow the foreign national’s spouse and minor children to accompany the national as dependents. The age limit for who will be deemed a “minor child” differs slightly from country to country but in general the cut-off age ranges between 18 and 21 years old.

Fourth, nearly all investment visa programs require that the foreign national prove that the national’s investments funds were derived from a lawful source of income such as savings that the national accumulated from his/her employment, the sale of stocks, the mortgage of a house, an inheritance, or a gift/loan from a friend, relative, or financial institution. The purpose behind this requirement is to prevent foreign nationals who are involved in terrorist groups to receive investor visas, so this requirement must be carefully and extensively documented to maximize the foreign citizen’s opportunities for visa approval.

Fifth, many programs require the foreign national to show how the national’s investment created jobs for the country’s citizens. Some countries require a foreign citizen to create a specified number of jobs. For example, US investor visa holders must show that their investments have created at least ten new jobs for American workers. Other countries do not have a minimum requirement.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, most investor visa programs allow the foreign national to eventually qualify for citizenship in the new country. Most programs require the foreign national to reside in the country for a certain number of years as a permanent resident before applying for citizenship (along with meeting other requirements such as knowledge of the country’s language and the completion of a security and criminal background check).
Since every country’s program is different, it is highly advisable that interested investors contact knowledgeable attorneys who can explain the benefits and disadvantages of each program and help the investor choose which program to pursue.

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