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Top international residency programmes for South Africans

25 Apr 2017

Property News

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The realisation of the implications of junk status, brought about by the successive credit downgrades by the S&P Global and Fitch ratings agencies following recent political shifts, has boosted the demand for second residency and citizenship-by-investment options.

Cyprus is an idyllic destination and offers access to the European Union. From EUR 300 000 you can access a residency programme. An investment of EUR 2 million can give you fast-tracked citizenship in as little as four months,

While most of South Africa’s wealthy citizens do not want to leave the country, and prefer to stay, Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients, says their clients are now looking for a Plan B option, and fast.

“In the last two to three years the options have grown for the wealthy who can now gain access to major passports to the European Union by way of investment, without emigrating,” says Read Thaele.

She says Mauritius and Seychelles are no longer the only options.

“From as little as EUR 300 000, you can access the European Union via residency programmes in Malta or Cyprus,” says Read Thaele.

“An investment of EUR 2 million, can give you fast-tracked citizenship in as little as four months in the case of Cyprus, and fourteen months for Malta (from EUR 1 million). A Maltese passport currently ranks amongst the top ten most powerful passports in the world, according to the Henley Visa Restrictions Index.”

Read Thaele says residency options also extend to other attractive destinations such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain.

“There are also options of getting a foothold in other sought-after areas such as the UK, although these cost considerably more and require physical immigration,” she says.

“Alternatively, you could choose somewhere in the Caribbean, with Antigua and Barbuda offering citizenship in 4 to 6 months at an investment from USD400 000 into real estate, offering yields and a return. Your new passport will give you global visa-free travel to over 130 countries, including the Euro/Schengen Zone and the UK.”

For the same value, Read Thaele says you can also look at Saint Kitts and Nevis, offering direct citizenship with no prior residency period required, and with similar visa-free travel benefits.

“Grenada is another attractive option. The required investment starts at just USD200 000, with fast-tracked citizenship in just two months. The passport offers visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, the UK and many other Commonwealth countries,” she says.

“This fabulous location also offers a tax-friendly regime with no personal income tax - on top of an idyllic location.”

With the current rand allowance, Read Thaele says South Africans are able to take out R10 million annually (R20 million for couples), plus their R1 million discretionary allowance.

“And, with the rand in freefall, the longer you wait, the more rands it will cost you,” says Read Thaele.

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