Header image showing European countries and flags for an article on citizenship by investment rule changes

Citizenship By Investment Countries Face EU Travel Restrictions

The EU might restrict visa-free travel for citizens of countries selling passports (citizenship by investment programs) to wealthy investors.

In this article, we’ll explore the current visa-free travel suspension rules, how the new proposal could affect citizens of CBI countries, and why it’s safer to choose the Portugal Golden Visa.

Let’s dive in.

Could Buying Citizenship by Investment Cause Trouble?

The European Union (EU) is taking a stricter stance on visa-free travel, particularly focused on third countries offering citizenship by investment (CBI) programs.

These programs grant citizenship to wealthy individuals in exchange for investments, often in real estate or government bonds.

However, The EU’s proposed changes could significantly impact visa-free travel for citizens of these countries.

Current Visa Suspension Mechanism

The EU already has a visa suspension mechanism in place.

This allows the bloc to revoke visa-free access for countries deemed to be misusing the privilege.

Currently, suspension can occur if a country experiences:

  • An increase (over 50%) in irregular arrivals, including those overstaying visas or denied entry.

  • A rise (over 50%) in asylum applications with low approval rates.

  • Issues with readmitting deported individuals.

  • Increased security threats to EU member states.
EU passport control

EU Proposes Expansion of Suspension Grounds

In October 2023, the European Commission proposed expanding the list of offenses that could trigger visa-free travel suspension. The proposed additions include:

  • Misalignment with EU visa policy: This applies to situations where a country’s visa policies lead to a rise in arrivals to the EU, potentially due to geographical proximity.

  • Hybrid threats and document security deficiencies: Situations where a country poses security risks or has lax procedures for issuing travel documents.

EU Moves Closer to Implementing Changes

Last week, the EU took a significant step forward. The Committee of Permanent Representatives, representing EU member states, agreed to a common position.

This includes adding the operation of Citizenship By Investment programs as a potential justification for visa suspension.

The EU sees this new measure as a way to address situations where visa-free travel is misused or undermines the bloc’s interests.

Negotiations and Implementation

With the member states in agreement, the proposal now heads to the European Parliament for negotiations.

If both bodies reach a consensus, the final text will be formally approved and published in the EU’s Official Journal.

Upon publication, it becomes law across the entire EU, superseding any existing legislation on the matter within individual member states.

Potential Impact on Citizenship By Investment Countries

This change could significantly impact visa-free travel for citizens of countries with Citizenship By Investment programs. These programs are popular in the Caribbean, and all five Caribbean CBI countries could be affected.

Dominican passport which can be obtained buy a citizenship by investment program

The Portugal Golden Visa: A Secure Alternative

For individuals seeking European residency and potential citizenship through investment, the Portugal Golden Visa program offers a secure alternative.

Unlike Citizenship By Investment programs, Portugal offers a Residency by Investment (RBI) program, providing a genuine connection to the country through private equity or venture capital investment, or residency requirements.

This program will not be impacted by the EU’s proposed changes to the visa-suspension mechanism since it results in EU residency.

Key Takeaway

The EU’s proposed changes to the visa-suspension mechanism introduce uncertainty for visa-free travel from countries offering Citizenship By Investment programs. While the final outcome remains to be seen, those seeking European residency through investment may want to consider programs with a stronger emphasis on genuine connections, such as the Portugal Golden Visa.

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