Why are Countries Selling Citizenship?

Countries are selling citizenship or opening up citizenship to foreign nationals because it encourages

— a significant investment in a country

— Brings in talent and skilful

For example, in St Kitts and Nevis, the amount of money flowing into the public sector from the economic citizenship programme grew to nearly 25% of GDP in 2013.

Countries Selling Citizenship

Image: IMF

 

Why do people buy citizenship?

Foreign investors see a number of benefits to acquiring citizenship or residency permits, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The ability to move families permanently to countries such as the US, the UK or Australia is a major draw, while many see expanding their ability to travel visa-free as a major advantage. This is especially true for some of the European nations offering programmes. As this chart shows, Maltese and Cypriot schemes offer visa-free access to a large number of countries.

Countries Selling Citizenship

Image: IMF

However, the offer of increased visa-free access has prompted concerns about transparency, as well as global security. And there is also the risk that economies could become overly dependent on the capital inflows from these programmes.