This is the second part of How to Upgrade Your Citizenship featured in PALACE Magazine #22. There is no denying that globalisation has made our world smaller and wealthier. For a variety of reasons, today more than ever individuals are looking to change their nationality or become a national of multiple countries. From far-flung islands in the Caribbean to members of the European Union, countries are inviting foreign investment in exchange for citizenship. The global leaders in this industry are Henley & Partners who have over 20 years of experience in residence and citizenship planning.

Nitru river, Moldova

We speak with Henley & Partners’ Head of Southeast Asia Dominic Voltek on the latest country offering a Citizenship by Investment programme – Moldova.

 What is the primary advantage of Moldova’s Citizenship-by-Investment programme over other countries offering similar offerings?

The Moldova Citizenship-by-Investment (MCBI) programme has a number of highly appealing features. It provides visa-free access to 122 destinations, including Russia, Turkey, and the countries in Europe’s Schengen Area; it allows for permanent residence in a uniquely positioned country at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; and it allows citizenship to be transferred to future generations without restrictions. However, the most significant advantage offered by the programme is its genuine affordability and accessibility, which makes it probably the most cost-efficient programme in the world to date.

Henley & Partners’ Head of Southeast Asia  – Dominic Voltek

What is the primary advantage of Moldova’s Citizenship-by-Investment programme over other countries offering similar offerings?
The Moldova Citizenship-by-Investment (MCBI) programme has a number of highly appealing features. It provides visa-free access to 122 destinations, including Russia, Turkey, and the countries in Europe’s Schengen Area; it allows for permanent residence in a uniquely positioned country at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; and it allows citizenship to be transferred to future generations without restrictions. However, the most significant advantage offered by the programme is its genuine affordability and accessibility, which makes it probably the most cost-efficient programme in the world to date.

How long does it take to become a citizen?
Under the MCBI programme, the issuance of a Moldovan passport takes approximately three months from the date on which the complete application is submitted, provided that due diligence is carried out without difficulties. Once all the requirements have been satisfied and the final payments have been made, biometric data is collected, and the applicant pledges an oath of allegiance. Citizenship is granted, and the passport issued thereafter.

What requirements does the investor need to meet?
To qualify for citizenship, the main applicant must be over 18 years of age, meet the application requirements, and make the requisite qualifying contribution. It is absolutely essential that main applicants and their dependents have entirely clean personal backgrounds and no criminal records. In order to ensure this, the MCBI programme employs a four-tier due diligence system, considered to be the most rigorous in the world. In addition to the usual personal documentation, such as passport copies and birth certificates, the applicant is required to supply a number of additional supporting documents, including a police certificate confirming that he or she has no criminal record.

Before the application is submitted to the government, all the information provided must have been verified by one or more specialised due diligence service providers. All fees must also have been received, and the source of all funds must have been verified.

City of Moldova

Can investors move there with their family if they desire?
Absolutely! Dependent children up to 29 years of age and parents (of either the main applicant or the spouse) from 55 years of age can be included. Moreover, as I mentioned, citizenship is transferable to future generations without restrictions and at no additional charge.

 What are the costs involved?
The MCBI programme’s highly competitive pricing structure requires applicants to make a minimum non-refundable contribution to the government’s Public Investment Fund. The breakdown of costs is as follows:

  • EUR 100,000 (USD 113,666) for a single applicant
  • EUR 115,000 (USD 130,715) for a couple
  • EUR 145,000 (USD 164,815) for a family of four
  • EUR 155,000 (USD 176,181) for a family of five or more

Government service provider and licensed agent fees amount to EUR 35,000 (USD 39,783) per application.

Applicants are also required to pay government fees of EUR 5,000 (USD 5,683) for the main applicant, EUR 2,500 (USD 2,841) for a spouse, EUR 1,000 for a child aged 0 to 15 years, EUR 2,500 for a dependent child aged 16 to 29 years, and EUR 5,000 for a dependent parent who is 55 years of age or older. Due diligence fees are EUR 6,000 (USD 6,819) for the main applicant and EUR 5,000 for a spouse, dependent children older than 16 years, and/or dependent parents. Finally, biometric passport fees amount to EUR 300 (USD 340) per individual.

 How can Henley & Partners assist with the entire process?
Henley & Partners fulfils a number of important roles at every level of the process. As well as providing technical and marketing support to the Moldovan Government, we advise on best-in-class due diligence and know-your-client procedures.

From our clients’ point of view, Henley & Partners assists in the same way as it does for any other programme it endorses — by employing our extensive experience and insight to provide a seamless service at every stage of the application process, ensuring that all necessary tasks have been completed and correct paperwork has been submitted.

Which region do you expect to see most of the investors originate from?
The MCBI programme is still in its infancy, so we are waiting to see what patterns emerge in terms of where most interest comes from. We are, however, expecting to draw a lot of attention from investors in Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, across Southeast Asia, Africa, Russia, and China.

Any words of advice for someone looking to invest in a Citizenship-by-Investment programme? 
The advantages of CBI programmes for investors are self-evident: greater travel freedom, access to new markets, and the sense of safety that comes with having a “Plan B”. As obviously attractive as these programmes are, the decision to invest in a second passport is not something that should be undertaken without a great deal of thought and exploration of options.

Do lots of research to make sure that you invest in the passport that is right for you. There are many agencies out there purporting to assist you with obtaining a second passport, and the barriers for entering the industry are still very low. Therefore, my advice would be not to cut corners, to seek out a reputable agent with plenty of expertise and experience, and to consider all of your options before making an investment. As the global leader in residence and citizenship planning, Henley & Partners is well-placed to assist investors in taking this incredibly significant step.

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