Imran Farooq, CEO, AAA Associates
Imran Farooq, CEO, AAA Associates Image Credit: Supplied

People apply for citizenship by investment (CBI) for various reasons. Most of these programmes are established and strong, offering great convenience for travelling. The second passport allows travel to more than 130 countries, which is more than half of the world, including European and Far Eastern regions. People also use second citizenship for tax planning, tax breaks and wealth management.

Imran Farooq, CEO of AAA Associates immigration services, is of opinion that mobility is the biggest motivating factor for those who avail visa-free travel so that they can freely move around for holidays and trade events without filling out lengthy visa documents and seeking appointments at visa offices.

The Portugal golden visa - a win-win option

The Portugal golden visa is a great winner in CBI and is becoming a lead programme. It has emerged as one of the strongest passports. While quoting a Bloomberg report, Imran Farooq said that the Portuguese capital Lisbon has emerged amongst world’s top prime residential markets by its appeal to tourists.

Portugal's golden visa allows visa-free entry to most countries - including the USA and Canada. Secondly, the investment in it is reasonably low. One can invest as low as €280,000 ($293,788) to get a Portugal golden visa. The requirements for this type of visa are very limited and include a seven-day stay in the country and the freedom of a 14 year stay in total once the resident acquires the basic Portuguese language ability test. Ultimately, holding a Portuguese property for five years entitles the golden resident visa holder to Portuguese citizenship.

Once you become a Portuguese citizen, you can live, work, stay, and retire anywhere in Europe because the EU is a united bloc of nations.

Key attractions of Portugal for foreigners include living in a developed country, which is the sixth most visited place in Europe. For foreign companies, the country offers many opportunities. The quality of education in Portugal is very good. On the social side, Portugal boasts wide cultural diversity.

Its capital, Lisbon, offers the advantages of the downtown living. The capital growth in Portugal is one of the best in Europe. Portugal has also seen an upward growth trend during the previous several years.

Middle East investor trend for Dominican citizenship

Regarding Middle Eastern investor interest in Dominican citizenship, Imran said that, as a leader of a top CBI advisory firm in the Middle East, he would tend to be neutral - choosing not to recommend the passport of a particular country. For him, all Caribbean passports are good and hold specific benefits. He said Caribbean passport processing is convenient and that they have strong due diligence processes. Once an applicant gets a passport from any of these countries, they have the freedom of visa-free travel to more than 130 countries. Caribbean passports include visa-free travel to most of Europe and the Far East, which equates to more than half the world.

The key competition among Caribbean countries is the services for their passport applicants such as the ease of the application process, without compromising on the integrity of CBI programmes. However, I see both Dominica and St. Kitts offer combatively better services among five Caribbean states, he said.

The future of the CBI industry

First, Imran said, we need answers to many ‘whys’ about the citizenship industry. Why does it matter? What are the benefits? Who are the stakeholders of CBI industry? How does everyone win?

The changes in the world due to the old and new conflicts, the pandemic, shifting blocs, globalisation, decentralisation of state systems and rapid digitalisation have put the CBI industry in spotlight.

Governments need CBI revenue to support economies. Businessmen and industries need it to grow commerce. Families need it to find a safe and secure place to live.

Therefore, looking at the socio-economic factors mentioned above, it indicates that the CBI industry is heading towards playing a key role in the world economy, and especially the economies of the countries who offer it and the lives of people who hold second passports.

Imran Farooq is the CEO of AAA Associates, a Dubai-based Citizenship By Investment and immigration firms.