The easiest places in the world to get citizenship or residency
The easiest places in the world to get citizenship or residency. Henley & Partners’ annuFirst Nameal report on the world’s most powerful nationalities and passports.
The report, released last week, ranked France as the country with the most powerful nationality, and Somalia as the weakest. The overall index factored in the number of countries citizens can travel to visa-free and the other countries they can settle in relatively hassle-free, as well as the nation’s GDP, peace and stability, and development of human rights.
All is not lost, however, for those who hail from nationalities near the bottom of the index.
To improve your ability to move and settle around the world with ease, the report points to another option: Simply buying residency or citizenship in another country by investing in a property or government fund, or paying some other kind of fee.
But with costs ranging from $15,900 on the low end to $8 million (Austria), it’s an option available to a select few.
Thailand is the cheapest place to buy residency. For just $15,902, customers can secure a residency that gives them visa-free travel to 75 destinations.
The UK is the most expensive residency option; people interested in getting a residency in the UK and access to visa-free travel to 177 destinations need to spend over $2.7 million.
These so-called “golden visas” (paywall) are particularly popular among wealthy Chinese citizens, who were the dominant recipients of the visa last year.
The golden visas give recipients the right to work in the UK for three years, and if they invest even more money, they can settle permanently.
Retirees can obtain citizenship in a reasonably short period in the Dominican Republic. The basic requirement is that a retiree document a stable retirement income of at least $1,500 per month from a source outside the Dominican Republic.1 Non-retirees have to show a minimum monthly income of $2,000 per month.2
Provided this basic requirement is met, an individual can apply directly for permanent residency. After holding the permanent residency for two years, an individual can then apply for citizenship. The whole process takes about three years. According to Goldenvisas.com, the most affordable way to obtain Dominican Republic citizenship is through the contribution option; the cost is $100,000 plus fees for a single applicant, or $200,000 for a family of four.
The citizenship process also requires an interview conducted in Spanish (questions and answers can be reviewed in advance) and a medical exam.3 Dual citizenship is permitted in the Dominican Republic.4
A person can qualify to become a naturalized citizen of Ireland by living there for one year, plus four years cumulative residency over the eight years preceding the one year.5
The Irish government may even be willing to waive part of the residency time requirement if you can sufficiently document Irish ancestry or other associations with Ireland. If you happen to have a provable Irish grandparent, you may be able to become an Irish national by virtue of your ancestry.5 Ireland does permit dual citizenship. Keep in mind that obtaining citizenship does not automatically shield you from obligations of citizenship in another country (for example, paying taxes in both homelands).6
Getting a residence permit for Peru is not too difficult for those who are willing to attend school, start a business in Peru, or who can prove that they earn more than $1,000 per month in investment or pension income.7 Those who meet one of these criteria can have Peruvian citizenship in approximately two years.8 There is a language and history test in Spanish that passport applicants must take unless they marry a Peruvian.910
It is advisable to go through an agent who can guide you through the process of applying for residency at a Peruvian embassy. Applicants may also need to change their name to the Spanish style of having surnames from both their mother and father. Unlike some countries that require you to renounce your previous citizenship to become a citizen, Peru allows dual citizenship.11
Singapore offers a simple route to citizenship. Anyone who establishes a business in Singapore, obtains employment there, or marries a citizen of Singapore can obtain permanent residency.12 After two years of residency, individuals can apply to become a naturalized citizen.13 Opening a business, however, can be a costly enterprise: check carefully for the latest financial requirements; it’s not just simply depositing a certain sum in a Singapore bank.
Cautionary note: Singapore requires National Service from its male citizens. If you are of retirement age, you are likely safely outside the age window that obligates you for national service. A male permanent resident can apply for citizenship after completing National Service.13 Singapore does not allow dual citizenship. Applicants must renounce their prior citizenship to become a citizen of Singapore.14
Canada also offers a simple path to citizenship. Unless you have a job in Canada, you need proof of other income to obtain residency. To meet the residency requirement, you must be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days (two years) in every five-year period, according to Settlement.org.15 For example, an individual needs $12,960 (CAD), as proof of funds to immigrate as a skilled immigrant. After becoming a permanent resident, you can apply for naturalization as a Canadian citizen after four years.16 There are interactive questionnaires you can take to deliberate if relocating to Canada is right for you.
The Canadian immigration authorities are very strict about enforcing the requirement that you physically reside in the country before applying to be a citizen. You must have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1,095 days during the five years immediately before the date of your application, according to Settlement.org.15 You also must have filed your taxes for at least three years during the last five years, and any income tax you owe must be paid.17
Other requirements include: If you’re 14 to 65, you must send documents proving that you can speak and listen in English or French, and you will need to pass a citizenship test. If you wait until you are older, these requirements will not apply. Canada does permit dual citizenship.17
The Bottom Line
Try vacationing or staying on a short stay visa before applying for a residency visa. It is important to get a feel for a country and its expat community before committing to a big move.