Where can you buy residency or citizenship for less than US$500k?

Second citizenship options for South AfricansGolden Visas, or more formally, Immigrant Investor Visas, have been available in several countries since the 1980s, but they have really only come to prominence around 2006, and currently there are over 25 countries offering residency or citizenship in return for investment.


Whether you are looking for the ability to live and work in another country, increased travel freedom thanks to a more widely accepted passport or giving you and your family access to more options for education, there are many reasons why South Africans might be  motivated to apply for residency or citizenship of another country.

As with most things, the more money you have available, the more options there are, but here are some of the top Golden Visa schemes currently operating which require a passive investment at the lower end of the scale (less than US$500,000):

Note: the rules and regulations associated with each of these schemes are complex and subject to change, and professional advice should be sought to ensure that the scheme meets your needs.

Portugal Golden Visa

Portugal offers a number of different categories for investments, including property, with the minimum investment starting from EUR250k.  This scheme offers temporary residency with a path to permanent residency and even citizenship in the future, subject to minimum stay requirements.  This scheme is fairly unique in that the visa includes a work permit.

Cyprus Golden Visa

Another European residency option, with a path to permanent residency and citizenship.  Minimum investment of EUR330k.

Greece Golden Visa

With a minimum investment of EUR250k it is possible to secure residency in Greece.  If you live in Greece for more than 183 days per year, your temporary residency can lead to permanent residency and even citizenship (after 7 years).

St Kitts & Nevis / Dominica / Antigua & Barbuda / Grenada / Saint Lucia

While many of these Caribbean islands suffered significant damage during the recent Hurricane, they are perhaps even more motivated to attract investors.  In fact Dominica has just halved their application fees for residency by investment.

All of these islands operate separate schemes, and while the investment figure and requirements varies between them all, the basics are very similar – for a non-refundable donation or a property investment in an approved scheme, plus the payment of substantial application fees, it is possible to obtain citizenship of any of these countries.

Panama Golden Visa

With quick processing times, minimum fees, and low investment levels (from US$40k), Panama offers an interesting Golden Visa scheme.

Austria Golden Visa

Residency in Austria is possible, provided you can prove that you are of independent means.  The requirements are modest, only EUR40k of net assets per adult and EUR10k per child, but there are strict quotas, which perhaps explains why the processing times are so lengthy, currently applications are taking over 3 years to be considered!

Switzerland Golden Visa

While Austria has set the requirements at a fairly modest level, Switzerland has targeted their scheme at wealthier individuals.  Swiss residency is available for an annual taxation payment of US$170k. There is a path to permanent residency and even citizenship, subject to minimum stay requirements and other requirements including a language test.

Want to find out more?  Contact us for our recommended visa agents who specialise in securing residency and/or citizenship abroad.

If you are considering a move abroad, let Charter Forex help get the most for your Rands when you send money from South Africa with our preferential exchange rates and no fees for transactions over R250k.  Contact us for more information.