A new player has emerged on the investment immigration market. The Egyptian Parliament has amended the country’s legislative framework so that ultra high-income foreign citizens will be able to obtain the country’s citizenship. This way, the authorities intend to repay the International Monetary Fund-issued loan. Egypt is currently implementing a number of economic reforms, including the creation of favorable conditions for foreign investors.
According to the requirements of Egypt’s passport program, a foreigner is issued a passport after they’d obtained a special investment visa and resided in Egypt for at least 5 years, and contributed at least 7 million Egyptian pounds (approximately the equivalent of $400,000) to the state treasury.
The application is submitted to the Ministry of the Interior of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Each application is reviewed personally by the head of the ministry.
Is it beneficial to apply for an Egyptian passport?
To obtain a passport, an investor needs to deposit close to $400,000 (in the Egyptian national currency). As a rule, once the application is approved, this amount is not refunded, while in case of rejection, the sum can be withdrawn back from the account. Currently, investment options are not yet clear, as are not
deposit-making mechanism or particular banks that will accept the money.
The Egyptian CBI program doesn’t appear as attractive as passport programs of other countries. The Saint Kitts and Nevis CBI program costs USD 150,000 for a sole applicant, and USD 195,000 for a family of four. The process is clear and transparent, since the program is the oldest in the world. Over 12,000 people have become citizens since 1984. Investors with families should pay attention to Antigua and Barbuda investment citizenship program. All fees included, passports for a family of up to four people will cost $146,000. The country is a magnet for fans of yachting. That is why many investors purchase local property or buy hotel shares that can generate up to 6% of annual rate.
No less remarkable is the passport program of Vanuatu. A foreign investor can legally obtain a passport in just 6 weeks’ time, though there were cases of cutting the waiting down to 3 weeks, similarly to the Schengen visa. Also, Vanuatu is currently the only country in the world that accepts payment in cryptocurrency. In the spring of 2018, the authorities of the Pacific state announced they had closed several deals successfully when CBI program participants paid for their second passports with bitcoins or other digital currency.
Is it worth investing in the citizenship of Egypt?
Obviously, you need to weigh the pros and cons before applying for Egypt’s citizenship by investment program and determine the benefits.
- The number of countries available for a visa-free entry is rather small, just 50 on a visa-free or visa-upon-arrival basis. And the majority of those are small countries and third world, no Schengen zone countries, no UK, Canada, Singapore, Japan… or even the Russian Federation. Not the best option for international businessmen and active travelers.
- New citizens are not gaining access to any new economic benefits. On the one hand, the government does not restrict foreign investment projects; on the other hand, the country bans registration of foreigner ownership of agricultural land and real estate located on the Sinai Peninsula.
- There are limitations on investor’s family members obtaining the status of citizens. The spouse and children of the investor who do not reside permanently in Egypt will not be able to obtain its passport.
- The citizenship can be revoked if the investor:
- Has provided inaccurate information when filing a petition or received a passport by fraud;
- Does not reside in Egypt for more than two consecutive years without a valid reason recognized by the ministry of interior;
- Was found guilty for committing a serious crime and sentenced to imprisonment;
- Convicted of a crime that harmed the state, whether the said crime had been committed in Egypt or outside the country;
- Became a member of a group / association / organization of any kind with the aim of undermining the economic, social or public order in the country.
The Egyptian CBI program remains quite controversial and it would be difficult to estimate its performance in the future. Caribbean countries offer many more benefits. Here are the principal advantages of the Caribbean CBI programs:
- Speedy processing. Passports are issued within 3-6 months.
- An easy procedure. The case is handled by specialized agents, one’s personal presence in the country is not required.
- Wide range of investment options. It is possible to make a donation to a government fund, purchase real estate and get the investment amount back after the necessary property withholding period (usually 4-5 years). In Antigua and Barbuda, it is possible to invest in business, and in Saint Lucia, in government bonds.
- Citizenship status for the entire family. The investor’s spouse, children, and parents can obtain passports, too.
- No residence requirements. The investor doesn’t need to reside in their Caribbean country of choice, either before or after the passport is issued. The exception would be Antigua and Barbuda, where one needs to spend at least 5 days in the first 5 years of holding the passport.
- Tax optimization. Caribbean countries with CBI programs have no wealth, inheritance, world capital, donation taxes.
Thus, Caribbean passports appear more attractive to foreign investors than the Egyptian document. Some European countries also offer their passports in exchange for investment, but it should be borne in mind that European passports are much more expensive. So, while Egypt is only beginning to adjust to the needs of investors, the Caribbean Basin countries have already established all processes and are successfully competing on the second citizenship market.