For millions of UK citizens who voted “Remain” at the EU referendum last June, the phrase “the British public have spoken” is a slap in the face and a constant reminder of the country’s imminent European Union exit. However, just because Britain will no longer be part of Europe doesn’t mean its wealthiest citizens need to follow suite. Passport Reviewer explains.
Former UK prime minister David Cameron (pictured above with London mayor Sadiq Khan) first uttered the phrase “the British public have spoken” shortly after his country had voted for Brexit, a note of sadness and resignation, even shocked disbelief in his voice.
Since then “the British public have spoken” has become the battle cry of the victorious “Leave” campaigners, and is clearly the most condescending and insulting phrase that intelligent, educated and affluent individuals from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have had to listen to since the Brexit referendum of June 2016.
In the same way that a phrase like “the American public has voted” would surely infuriate the majority of US voters who actually voted not for Donald Trump but for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, the 49% of British voters who wished to remain within the European Union feel that such a phrase does not speak for them at all – quite the opposite.
And yet barely a week goes by without a politician, be it Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove or even the UK prime minister herself Theresa May (pictured) repeating that phrase, or the equally inane “Brexit means Brexit.”
The demographic of the people who voted to leave the EU revealed large numbers aged over 60 and either retired or close to it. The bulk of Brexit voters were poorly educated and lower working class.
The well-read, well-informed driving force of the UK voted to remain in Europe. Those younger, well-educated, ambitious up-and-comers and those hard workers already earning a good wage voted to remain in the EU, but their voices ultimately went unheard, because, as we now know, “the British public has spoken” and “Brexit means Brexit.”
Can Tony Blair Yet Save The Day?
Former British prime minister Tony Blair is spearheading what would appear to be a last-ditch attempt for the country to see sense before activating the dreaded Article 50 and starting the process of separation from the European Union. Blair, once dubbed “Teflon Tony”, was the most popular UK leader of modern times, winning three elections and bridging the gap between labour and tory like no-one else. However his credibility took a hammering when he chose to side with then US leader George Bush and march into Iraq in 2003, and it has never really recovered. Should he somehow be the catalyst for a second EU referendum, his political and personal resurrection would be a comeback of Rocky Balboa-like proportions.
Unfortunately, it is likely to be a case of “too little too late” both from Blair and current labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has drawn derision for the lackluster way he behaved when supposedly backing the remain campaign. All attempts to stall the Brexit process have seemingly failed, and even the remain voters now seem resigned to their fate. Right now Britain seems to be like an ocean liner sailing blindly toward treacherous waters, without a captain, a crew and with no life jackets!
However, all is not lost; UK high net worth individuals that are willing to go it alone and make the necessary investment can ensure that they will still be able to travel throughout the EU with ease (and without visas), and will still be able to live and work in a European Union country for as long as they need to. For these ambitious individuals, it’s not a case of “can I become an EU citizen?” rather than “which EU program words best for me?”
The Five Best Options For Brits Wishing To Remain In The EU
Gaining EU citizenship is not such a hard thing to do, as thousands of wealthy foreign investors from Asia, Africa and the Middle East prove each year. Almost every country in the European Union offers either an investor visa or citizenship by investment program, designed to attract foreign investors to their country in return for residency, and eventually citizenship.
Here are the five options that should work best for those Brits that are not prepared to have their lives and their futures ruined by the so-called will of the Brexit-voting people.
5) Austrian Citizenship by Investment Program
For those British businesspeople with sufficient capital, the easiest and quickest option is a citizenship by investment (CBI) program. Citizenship by investment is the granting of a country’s citizenship and passport in return for a specific financial investment, and in this case, the result would be that all-important EU citizenship and passport.
The Austrian CBI program is the universally recognized Gold Standard of the industry, but it doesn’t come cheap. The cost of an Austrian passport to a foreign investor that passes its rigorous background check begins at €2-3 million, and this is via a non-refundable charitable donation to the country. Investors who need to see a return on their money will have to shell out substantially more; the minimum recoverable investment is €10 million into the Austrian economy.
Benefits of the Austrian CBI Program:
- The Austrian CBI program is fast; once the investment payment is made, an investor will receive their Austrian citizenship and passport immediately
- The Austrian passport is the fifth most powerful in the world with visa-free access to 173 countries
- As an Austrian citizen an investor and their family will have access to some of the very best standards of education and healthcare available anywhere in Europe
- Austria is a highly respected EU member state, and as an Austrian citizen an investor will be free to live and work without restriction in any European Union country
4) Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program
The reason why the Cypriot CBI program is rated one spot above the Austrian program is value for money; while the Austrian government is quite happy to take €2-3 million from an investor in the name of philanthropy, the Cypriot program allows an investor to purchase a nice piece of real estate with their €2 million, which they are then free to enjoy for themselves, rent out at a profit to holidaymakers, or sell at a profit.
Cyprus is a beautiful country that was hit hard by the 2008 banking crisis and is yet to fully recover. Launching their own CBI program was clearly a move aimed at attracting foreign investment – and investors – into the country. Of course, the beauty of the EU system is that a citizen of any member state is free to live, work and enjoy all of the benefits of any other country in the European Union. That means that a citizen of Cyprus – currently the world’s 110th largest economy – is perfectly able to live and work for as long as they want to in Germany or France, the world’s 4th and 6th largest economies respectively.
Benefits of the Cyprus Citizenship By Investment Program
- Cyprus is an EU member state, so Cypriot citizenship equals EU Citizenship, and a citizen of Cyprus has the right to live and work anywhere within the European Union without restriction
- The Cypriot passport grants its holder visa-free access to 159 countries worldwide, including such areas as Western Europe, Canada, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Australasia and much of Africa
- The Cyprus CBI program is the quickest on the market, with a processing time of only three months
- The Cypriot CBI program does not require the physically residence of the investor in Cyprus at any time
- After years in the doldrums, the Cypriot economy is now one of the fastest rising in the world, and making a real estate purchase in Cyprus is a sound moneymaking investment
3) Spanish Golden Visa Program
Europe is awash with investor visa programs, and pretty much any country you care to mention from Western, Central and Eastern Europe offers a paid residency plan in one form or another. The majority of these programs will eventually give the investor the chance to acquire the country in question’s full citizenship. The average period of residency demanded from these programs before the investor can apply for citizenship is five years, and this is the case with the Spanish Golden Visa program.
Spain has a long-established bond with the UK that began in the 1960s with the first influx of British holidaymakers that have been returning ever since. Spain is the second most visited nation in the EU behind France, and the majority of those visitors hail from UK shores. There are officially one million British expats living in España, and unofficially many more.
There is a long-held mutual respect between the two nations that doesn’t exist between the UK and France or Germany for example, and that relationship looks set to continue post Brexit. If there is one country on the continent where a UK citizen is granted to feel completely at home, it’s Spain.
Benefits of the Spain Golden Visa Program:
- An investor can secure a Golden Visa by virtue of a minimum €500,000 real estate purchase on the Spanish mainland, the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands
- A Golden Visa grants the holder the right to live and work in Spain for five years
- The investor’s spouse, children under the age of 18 and parents over the age of 65 can be included in the application without additional charge
- If an investor resides in Spain for less than 183 days per year they are not eligible to pay tax
- After five years the investor is eligible to apply for permanent residency in Spain
- After completion of one year of permanent residency, an investor can then apply for Spanish citizenship and a passport
- Spain are an EU member state, and its citizens have the right to live and work without time restriction in any other EU country
- The Spanish passport is the third most powerful in the world, with visa-free access to 175 countries
2) Maltese Citizenship by Investment Program
With a population of less than half a million people and a surface area of just over 300 km, Malta is the smallest nation in the European Union, but don’t let that lack of size fool you; Malta is one of only three countries that are members of both the EU and the British Commonwealth, the others being Cyprus and the UK (for now). Malta is also one of only three countries in the European Union offering a citizenship by investment program, the others being Austria and Cyprus.
Malta’s citizenship by investment program (officially called the Malta Individual Investor Program or IIP) has been extremely successful since its launch in 2014, but unfortunately there was only ever going to be a restricted number of available citizenship places (1,800), and by August 2016 there were only 700 places left.
Those places are likely to be filled within the next 18 months to two years maximum, so any British investor looking for a CBI program for just over €1 million that offers an EU passport within a calendar year should make their move before it’s too late!
Benefits of Malta Individual Investor Program
- The cost of the Malta IIP is approximately €1.2 million, almost half the price of the Cyprus CBI program
- In Malta, English and Maltese are the main languages
- The investor’s spouse and immediate family members (children and elderly parents) can be included in the application without extra charge
- As Malta is an EU member state, a Maltese citizen has the right to live and work without time restrictions in any other European Union country including Germany, France, Spain and Italy
- The Malta passport is the 9th most powerful in the world, with visa-free access to 168 countries
- Maltese citizens are members of both the European Union and the British Commonwealth
1) Irish Investor Visa Program
The Irish investor visa program is not as instantly conclusive as obtaining an EU passport and citizenship within a matter of months via the Austrian citizenship by investment program. Nor is passing five years in Ireland likely to be as enjoyable as passing the same period of time in sunny Spain, unless of course one has a passion for beautiful green countryside, rainy days and nights and Irish pubs.
However, while the accent might be different, everybody in Ireland speaks English. The TV, newspapers, food and drink is virtually the same, and the distance between Dublin and London is covered by a 70 minute, £50 flight. Ideally, an investor would prefer to gain Irish citizenship by virtue of ancestry, i.e., a parent or grandparent who originally hailed from The Republic. However, if this is not the case, gaining Irish citizenship by virtue of its Investment Visa program is an extremely viable option.
The program will take up five years of the investor’s life, and the minimum investment will be a nonrefundable sum of €500,000, but upon completion, an investor will be eligible to apply for full Irish citizenship and passport. Ireland are very proud of their EU membership, and certainly have no intention of any kind of Brexit-style referendum anytime soon, so obtaining an Irish passport would be guaranteed EU membership for life.
Benefits of the Irish Investor Visa Program:
- Residency granted for a minimum nonrefundable philanthropic donation of €500,000
- 5 years of guaranteed Irish residency
- Spouse, children and elderly parents are also granted residency at no additional cost
- No minimum residence requirements other than the investor must visit Ireland at least once each year
- After five years of living and working in Ireland and investor can apply for Irish citizenship and its passport
- Ireland is an EU member state, so an Irish citizen has the right to live and work in any European Union country without time restriction and with the same rights as locals
- The Irish passport is the sixth most powerful in the world, with visa free access to 172 countries, including the Americas in their entirety (Canada, the USA, Central America, the Caribbean and all of South America), Western Europe in its entirety, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, areas of Asia and Southeast Asia and all of Australasia