The Big League
Here I will summarise the schemes that exist for what might be called the more popular countries — the big league. They are, in alphabetical order, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. I will add one comparable country — Italy. I will also add Monaco and Switzerland — not because they are likely to have any particularly widespread appeal, except among the really rich, but they deserve mention, and belong more among the more established countries than with some of the others mentioned in this Report. I will also include Brazil, although it could be appropriate to include Brazil in the chapter on central and south America.
In Appendix II you will find a checklist of major categories leading to permanent residence and citizenship of these countries.
Australia: $A 150,000+
The Australian government aims to increase employment, bring new technology and new skills into Australia, and increase its exports. Applicants must have a track record as successful businessmen, with funds for investment of at least $A150,000 (this amount being described as the bare minimum).
The application is processed through Canberra, but the final seal of approval comes from the state government concerned. Once the business proposal has been approved the applicant must go through the normal immigration procedures.
The Australian government assumes that the outline business plan proposed by an applicant with a successful business record and adequate funds does not require detailed scrutiny.
Investment in land or property in association with development (but not mere investment, which might well be a safer proposition) is regarded as a suitable investment for an applicant under the Australian program.
The Australian plan is divided into two categories, the amount of the investment being the deciding factor:
Category #1 — $A500,000+. It is assumed that anyone with $A500,000+ to invest in Australia is big enough to look after himself, and he is not required to submit a detailed business plan, just an outline.
Category #2 — $A150,000+. An applicant in this class will undergo more scrutiny, especially as to the kind of business he wants to establish. The figure of $A150,000 is indicative only, and he may be told that it is not enough. There was a requirement that an Australian partner be taken in by an applicant in this category, but this may have been modified in line with relaxations of rules governing inward direct investment.
In all cases, active participation by the applicant is required, particularly in category #2. An applicant must give evidence of his net worth and show sufficient funds to cover resettlement expenses. and (category #2) to cover living expenses.
It has been taking up to nine months for Australia to process business migration applications, but in December 1987 the government announced that it would farm out some of the work to consultants — lawyers, accountants, bankers and the like — and hope to reduce the processing period to one month. At the same time, by segregating these consultants. who will be “accredited,” from those who are not accredited, the government hopes to weed out some of the people who have been charging overly-high fees in exchange for doubtful service.
Australia also has a program for people in retirement. If you are at least 55 years old, and can take with you assets sufficient to enable you to establish a home and provide adequately for your future without needing or intending to work) then you are welcome. You must show at least $A500,000, or $A150,000 plus a guaranteed annual income of $A35,000 for a married couple ($A30,000 if you are single).
As indicated earlier, Australia will also accept people with what it regards as needed skills, certain relatives of Australian citizens, and a limited number of refugees.
The basic criterion for a Canadian investment/business application is whether the proposal will create jobs for Canadians.
The investment required — $C150,000 (an indicated minimum) — and the number of jobs to be created or preserved (as a rule of thumb, six, although even one new job — yours, in the “self-employed” category, could qualify) makes Canada one of the less expensive countries for citizenship via this route.
The business proposal must be approved by provincial and/or local authorities. Vancouver might reject another Chinese restaurant, but a smaller town might well have no objection. The key to success with your application is:
- select a town which will welcome your particular proposal, or,
- if you have a preference for a particular place. find out what kinds of business projects will be approved and see whether you can formulate a proposal to suit.
Canada also entertains applications from investor migrants. The criteria are a strong, proven track record as a successful business person, a net worth of at least $C500,000, and a proposed investment in Canada (in a project approved by the provincial government as being of significant benefit to the provincial economy) of at least $C250,000, to be maintained for at least three years.
Canada too will accept persons over the age of 55, able to support themselves, and with no need or intention to work in Canada. There is no set figure for them to show as their resources apart from these requirements.
People with offers of employment, scoring the requisite number of points, similar to the Australian system, and possessing one of the skills regarded as needed, may also be accepted for immigration into Canada, as may certain relatives of permanent residents or citizens of Canada, and of course a limited number of refugees.
New Zealand: about $NZ300,000
As with Australia, the main criteria for business immigration to New Zealand are whether your proposal will create jobs, add to exports, and/or increase the diversity of existing businesses. Indeed, except for the fact that no precise figures are quoted for size of proposed investment, New Zealand’s attitude is very similar to Australia’s. New Zealand does more closely specify the kinds of business it is seeking: manufacturing, horticultural or agricultural product processing, tourist development, and certain technical and professional consultancy services.
New Zealand, too, has a list of skills — the “Occupational Priority List,” which changes from time to time, and people with those skills may be able to gain entry without a specific job offer.
Certain relatives may be permitted to join their kin already in New Zealand, and of course there is a limited refugee entry. No set criteria are published for retired persons wishing to go to New Zealand to live.
United Kingdom: £150,000
Paradoxically, of all the nations in this immediate list, only the UK will grant permanent residency (leading to citizenship) on the basis of a simple demonstration, and transfer into the UK, of money: in this case the sum of £150,000.
It is true that you must also demonstrate a close connection with the UK, and an income of not less than £15,000 a year.
Unfortunately it seems that citizenship of a former or existing British colony is not a close enough connection to qualify. Indeed, the close connection criterion may be so vague that you could be rejected because you are wearing the wrong tie.
£150,000 is also the minimum sum required if you wish to enter the UK to start a business. You must demonstrate that there is a need for the business, and the investment, and also show your ability to accommodate and support yourself and your dependants.
In the above cases, clearance must be obtained before any attempt to enter the UK.
If you are a citizen of another country in the European Community (this does not apply to Greek until 1988, or Spaniards or Portuguese until 1993), you may enter the UK and work there freely without a work permit. After six months you must apply for a residence permit, which you will get, valid for five years, if you are in employment (self— or otherwise) or a member of the family of someone who is. After four of the five years are up you may apply for the right of indefinite stay.
If you are a minister of religion, accredited journalist, or a representative of an overseas firm that has no branch or subsidiary (or other representative) in the UK, you will not need a work permit either. But you should first get entry clearance by having your employer write a letter setting out the position and confirming you will be paid enough to provide for your living requirements.
The UK also accepts a limited number of refugees.
A London law firm that could be helpful is
Albert Aung & co. 35 Albernarle St., London W1 X 3FB,
Telephone: 01-4939631.Telefax: 01-4931624. Telex: 299153.
The United States
Although at the time of going to press there are two bills before Congress, as mentioned below, the US has no provision for permanent residence via investment. You can however effectively gain permanent residence — without the eventual right to citizenship — by the use of the “E” or “L” visa.
The E1-visa holder is otherwise known as a treaty trader, and the E2-visa holder as a treaty investor. These visas are granted on the basis that your presence is required in the US for the purpose of activities that will increase US exports, or result in a substantial investment there in an active business. Provided the business activity is maintained, the visa can be renewed indefinitely. The lists of treaty countries for this purpose are limited. For example, Hong Kong and China are not included while Taiwan is (hence the value of the Taiwan non-resident passport detailed above).
The L-visa can also be renewed indefinitely. This is issued to foreign nationals who are transferred to US subsidiaries of foreign companies. Such companies can be large or small: the [aren’t of your US employer could be a billion-dollar multinational or your own family company.
There are many business opportunities in the US for people with some money and energy. If you need help in finding such opportunities, please write to me as requested on page 49. But neither the E-visas nor the L-visa will lead directly to a US passport.
Before the US Senate there is a pending bill filed by Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy for the allocation of immigrant visas to investors putting up between $US250,000 and $US500,000. Also before the Senate is a bill filed by Republican Senator Alan Simpson for the allocation of visas to investors putting up at least $US2 million, to go into a business that will give jobs to at least 10 Americans. The Simpson bill is duplicated by a bill filed in the House of Representatives by Democratic Representative Charles E. Schumer. It seems likely that some form of legislation will become a serious possibility, so readers should keep an eye open for wider opportunities in the US under this heading. I am advised that it is unlikely that legislation will have passed all its stages, and so be definite, before the fall of 1988.
In addition to qualifying under one of the categories mentioned above, or in the checklist in Appenthi I there are other requirements more or less common to all countries. For example, you should be of good character, be of sound mind and body, have no criminal convictions, and so on.
If you buy residential property in Italy. yon will have no difficulty in getting a residence permit, subject to your demonstrating sufficient financial standing and good character.
A resident may after five years apply for naturalisation. The grant of naturalisation is discretionary, and subject to satisfactory references from the authorities in the place of your residence.
If you have taken an interest in local affairs you will have improved your chance of success (although I am not recommending that you get involved in local politics!).
It is worth remembering that the Italians are among the world’s friendliest people, and you will not be able to help liking them. With such mutual goodwill, Italian citizenship is not an impossible dream.
From the point of view of freedom of movement in Europe, Italian citizenship has the same advantages as that of other countries in the European Economic Community.
However, unless you are already a citizen of another Community country, you will need a work permit if you want to work in Italy.
If you want to take employment, you must have a prospective employer and satisfy the labor ministry that the necessary skills are not already available in Italy.
On the other hand, if you maintain your residence in Italy but continue to work in your original country, you could still attain your objective of citizenship — admittedly at some cost in time spent maintaining your resident status. More numerous and lengthier visits would be necessary than is the case with Portugal.
The cost of acquiring an Italian property could well be relatively low — particularly if you were prepared to invest slightly off the beaten track, perhaps in a house in need of repair and renovation, that you could spend time on bringing up to the required standard.
Obtaining a Monaco passport is perhaps one of the most expensive exercises you could undertake, because of the high cost of real estate in the Principality.
An apartment there normally costs between 25,000 and 65,000 French francs (the local currency) per square meter. The equivalents of 65,000 French Francs are (as I write) Swfr15,650 or $US11,500. So for a bachelor pad of say 50 square meters you might have to pay something over half a million US dollars.
If your requirement is for more than a bachelor pad, you are recommended to take the additional space that you need in neighboring France, where prices are much lower. But — you must spend significant time in the Monaco apartment in order to secure your treatment as a Monaco resident. A colleague of mine tells of a rich, but economical, friend of his who some years ago took a minimum-size apartment in Monaco for this purpose, and spent much time worrying whether his consumption of water in the premises was sufficient to be consistent with the appearance of his living there.
Whether the immigration authorities ever looked at his water supply bills was not revealed.
You do not have to buy your residence, however. The alternative is to rent for the period of residence required to qualify for naturalisation, which is ten years. Annual rents currently average 3% -4% of the buying price.
The first step in the process of obtaining Monaco citizenship is to apply for a residence visa, which entails producing:
- Police certificate of no criminal record;
- Affidavit as to no criminal record or bankruptcy;
- Either a letter from your bank (without figures) confirming you are of sufficient means, or a contract of employment with a Monaco company, or a request for authorisation for setting up a business;
- A medical certificate in prescribed form:
- Either evidence of ownership or tenancy of a Monaco residence, or a certificate from a resident undertaking to house you, or your own undertaking to take up a place of residence within three months after arrival;
- Seven Copies of an application with photographs, for a long-stay visa (forms from French consul).
All documents must be produced in French.
If your application is successful you get a “carte de sejour temporaire” which is good for one year. After two renewals you get a “carte de sejour ordinaire” which is good for three years and renewable once. After that, you can get a “carte de sêjour privilegie” which is good for ten years and renewable for ten years at a time thereafter
Any individual over the age of majority who has had his domicile (residence) in Monaco for ten years may apply to the Prince to become a citizen. The Prince may grant citizenship to anyone he considers suitable without the ten years’ residence qualification.
One advantage of Monaco is its tax regime. There is no income tax or capital gains tax. A Monaco business which derives more than three-quarters of its turnover from Monaco sources is exempt from profits tax, which otherwise runs at 35%. The Principalities major source of income is value added tax [TVA], imposed at the same rates and on the same goods and services as the French version. Stamp duties and transfer taxes (imposed primarily on transfers of real estate and businesses) are also steep.
Inheritance and gift taxes range up to 16% — but are zero where the beneficiaries are direct descendants/ancestor, spouses for charitable or public purposes.
Social security contributions in respect of employees are mandatory, and business employers must make contributions to life assurance and pension plans for their executives.
Be warned, too, that Monaco’s general cost of living is far from inexpensive.
Exchange control exists in Monaco which for this purpose is part of France. After two year’ residence you will cease to be a non-resident for exchange control purposes and will have to comply with French requirements. Though these have been relaxed recently, you may find that your bank is over- interested in the conduct of what ought to be the simplest foreign exchange transactions. So, you should take a few precautions before taking up residence — even though France, like the rest of the European Economic Community, is under an obligation to completely dismantle exchange controls. No doubt sooner or later — though more likely later — the French will comply.
Before qualifying to apply for Swiss naturalisation and get a Swiss passport you have to have been resident in Switzerland for 12 years.
While it’s not easy, it’s not impossible to obtain a residence visa in the first place — with perseverance you may find a canton that will have you.
Retired persons over 60, able to support themselves and with no intention of carrying on business may be able to live in Switzerland but they must show close ties with the country.
The Swiss confederation consists of 26 cantons, and each of these cantons has autonomy in the allocation of its share of the limited number of residence permits set by the confederation each year. Some are more active than others in encouraging new industrial and commercial activities.
A cantonal authority that is keen to attract a new business will arrange for the necessary work and residence permits for the owner of the business, for managers and for necessary foreign personnel. The arrangements will include a commitment by the authority to ensure that the necessary renewals after the first year are forthcoming. A permit will cover the holder’s spouse and children under twenty.
For the first five years, the permit (called a B permit, permitting both work and residence) is renewable every year. After five years it can be renewed for another five years; and after ten years it can be convened into a C permit which is good for life without renewal. Any renewal is, however, subject to the continuance of the economic activity that supported the permit’s initial grant.
After 12 years’ residence, application may be made for citizenship by naturalisation The grant of this falls within the canton’s authority, not the federal authorities This is because a Swiss citizen is first a citizen of his commune of origin; then a citizen of his canton of origin; and only thirdly a citizen of Switzerland
How to live within Switzerland without a Swiss visa
This heading is slightly misleading, however accurate, because you will need Italian papers.
Provided you have a certain amount of money, and the patience needed for finding a property for sale in what is a very small area, the Italian enclave of Campione could be for you.
Campione’s total area is only one and a half square kilometers so the real estate supply is somewhat limited.
It is on Lake Lugano, and 4 kilometers as the crow flies from the city of Lugano, which is of course in Switzerland, and happens to be the third largest Swiss banking center, served by the Lugano-Agno airport with 9 flights a day to such places as Zurich and Geneva. There is no frontier post between Campione and Lugano — and I do not mean just for crows.
To apply for a “domicilio Italiano” (residence permit) for Campione, you need to have bought a property (conditionally will do), have a valid passport, and evidence of means and of good character. Attendance at the police offices at Campione and nearby Como will be necessary.
After ten years’ residence the domicilio status can be changed to a “residencia permanenta”
Campione has certain tax advantages: “private people” pay no Italian income tax.
What Campione calls “private people” — retired people and freelance professionals resident in Campione — pay no income tax in Italy so long as they are not doing business or have no assets there. Residents of Campione with Italian-source income pay one-quarter the normal Italian rate.
Double tax treaties between Italy and other countries are applicable to Campione residents as they are to other residents of Italy.
House/apartment prices — when you can find a property for sale — range up to Swfr5,500 per square meter, which contrasts nicely with Monaco at up to Swfr15,650.
If you need the name of someone who may be able to help answer questions about either residence permits or real estate in Campione, please write as requested on page 49.
Brazil — $US300,000+
Anyone wishing to make a business investment in Brazil may submit to the Brazilian embassy or consulate a proposal, which will be considered for approval on a case by case basis. The minimum figure quoted is $US300,000.
In addition to approval of the business proposal. applicants for a permanent Brazilian visa must supply the usual records, such as a valid passport, birth and marriage records, and clear police and health records.
The visa, if issued, must be used within three months of its issue, although it can be extended as long as application for extension is made before the visa has expired.
Apart from approved business immigrants, Brazil will also accept retired persons with a pension of at least $US500 monthly, remittable to Brazil, and employees of Brazilian companies or firms under employment contracts approved by the government.
Brazil also permits entry to relatives (spouses and direct line relatives, and dependent minors) sponsored by a resident or by someone being accepted as a resident under the above headings.
The normal period of permanent residence required before application for naturalisation is four years, which is shortened to three for those in the investment category, to two where the applicant is engaged in scientific or research work, and to one where he or she is sponsored by a Brazilian relative.