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Moving to other countries with more powerful passports provides a way of mitigating these issues through securing Residency or even Citizenship. However, these procedures can be bureaucratic, and time-consuming, and in today’s world, this may prove an even larger hindrance.

This is where investment immigration programs, also known as Golden Visas and Golden Passports, arise. More than 60 countries throughout the world provide these mechanisms to allow foreign nationals to either obtain Residency or Citizenship and enjoy the benefits associated with them. Choosing the right investment immigration program and understanding the differences between a Golden Visa and a Golden Passport are essential and Investment Visa is here to explain the differences to you.

What is a Golden Visa?

It is important to clarify that there is no official meaning for the term “Golden Visa”. It can be whatever a country’s government defines it to be. In Portugal, for example, “Golden Visa” is just an alternative name for its “Residency Authorization by Investment” (ARI) program. Regardless, the term has become extremely common, popularized by media outlets and countries’ governments across the world. “Golden Visa” is used to describe the nature of what is, at its core, a business transaction. In exchange for vast amounts of capital (the gold), often as an investment in the country’s economy, an investor is awarded certain rights (the visa) within the country. Even though the definition of “Golden Visa” varies by country, it has become heavily associated with Residency by Investment programs, which are more common in Europe.

Golden Visa programs prove to be a highly beneficial scenario for all the involved parties. The country earns substantial capital gains, and the investor benefits from Residency status, allowing benefits such as family inclusion, visa-free travel, and access to higher standards of healthcare, education, and living. Furthermore, it is not just the agreement itself, but the opportunity to further earn capital gains and a return on the initial investment, giving it all the more reason to call it “Golden.”

Golden Visa programs often come with certain eligibility requirements which must be fulfilled to maintain Residency status. These vary by country but can include, for example, a minimum stay requirement in the country, a clean criminal record, and proof of financial resources, among others.

Find out more about Residency by Investment. Golden Visa vs. Golden Passport

What is a Golden Passport?

The term “Golden Passport” is clearer and more straightforward, and it is used to exclusively describe Citizenship by Investment programs. The same basic concept of a business transaction also applies to Golden Passports, mirroring Golden Visas. In exchange for a significant investment amount, an investor can become a Citizen in the country promoting the program, thus earning a “Golden” passport.

These types of mechanisms are commonly found in less economically developed countries, such as those in the Caribbean and the Middle East, though they can also be found in Europe, the South Pacific, and other regions of the world. 

Entering Citizenship by Investment programs and obtaining a Golden Passport proves an excellent venture for both the investor and the country alike. As these countries tend to struggle, the boost in capital is a tremendous boom for the economy. In this sense and in order to attract investors to their specific country, there are often large and varied tax benefits associated with these programs. As such, the investor not only gains the passport, earning full rights, including voting, in the country as a citizen but also a wide assortment of taxation advantages.

Certain requirements will also have to be met, though these tend to be more relaxed in countries offering Golden Passport programs. The conditions pertain more to the documentation side, such as having a clean, criminal record, and proof of financial resources and often do not require the investor to spend any time in the country.

Read more about Citizenship by Investment. Golden Visa vs. Golden Passport

Golden Visa vs. Golden Passport: Which One is the Best for You?

Understanding the differences between a Golden Visa and a Golden Passport is the first step toward finding the right country for you. It is always important to remember no country is better than another one simply because of one more benefit, and just as there are advantages, there are also setbacks.

Now that we know the differences between them, how do they compare? Essentially, a Golden Visa is a program allowing you to bypass certain bureaucracies and become a Resident in the country of your choice. A Golden Passport, as the name implies, lets you directly become a Citizen in the country of the program.

Bear in mind the Residency status provided by the Golden Visa may either be Temporary or Permanent, depending on the conditions of the program, and it may require holding the initial investment long-term, as well as a minimum staying period in the country. On the other hand, a Golden Passport obtained by a Citizenship by Investment program is an irrevocable status. Countries fostering these programs are often lax with staying requirements, sometimes not even demanding any visitation at all to the country.

If you hail from a country that does not permit dual citizenship, the solution might rely on the Golden Visa altogether, especially if you have no intention of giving up your original citizenship. Obtaining a Golden Visa from a wealthier country, such as those in the European Union, grants a larger international mobility than in comparison to those in the Caribbean for example.

Interestingly, obtaining a Golden Passport can be more affordable, which is a worthwhile perk, offering full Citizenship rights as opposed to just Residency rights provided by Golden Visas. Furthermore, as Golden Visas are more common in the European Union, it is crucial to also consider access to better infrastructures and higher standards of living.

The choice is entirely yours, but if you remain uncertain, do not hesitate to contact Investment Visa. Our advisory team has more than 25 years of experience in navigating the different Golden Visas and Golden Passports programs and can help you reach safe port and set you up with Residency or Citizenship in the best possible country for you.

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