Citizenship – much better than mere residence

If you have been following the global citizenship marketplace in the past few years, you have certainly noticed certain shift in terminology. If you know what citizenship or residence by investment is, you should know by now that citizenship by investment has always been your best bet. But things got a bit “different” lately…

from “Citizenship by investment”…. -> slowly, but surely to…. -> “Residence by investment”

You should have certainly noticed that the international immigration agents have changed their wording somewhat. Now they will promote “golden visa” and “residence by investment”. They will sometimes polish their offers by structuring them like “golden visa with path to citizenship”. But the genuine “citizenship by investment” is basically off the table of the serious agents in 2021 (with exception of some tropical islands programs like Vanuatu, Dominica, etc.). So why is that? Why is the true “EU citizenship by investment” so hard to find nowadays?

What happened in the citizenship by investment marketplace?

The reason is very, very simple. EU citizenship by investment programs got very hard beating in 2020 and 2021. Up ant until recently, there were three programs that were competing and were the only options for an investor to get fast-track EU citizenship.


The program of Cyprus was probably the most famous among all EU CIPs (CIP stands for Citizenship by Investment Program). But Cyprus was under constant attack by the European Commission, who was claiming the the program of Cyprus was a “passport for sale” scheme. The tiny island could defend its program for quite some time and there were many foreigners who got hold of real EU passports. But at the end of 2020, an enormous corruption scandal with the Cypriot CIP forced the government to stop it altogether.


The Malta’s CIP was the jewel of the EU. The dwarf country was offering citizenship by investment, but the cost of the program was not for the faint-hearted. Still, the Russians and the Chinese were lining up, ready to pay a fortune to get hold of the Maltese passport. Not surprisingly, at one point, the Maltese government began granting citizenship only to the most “promising” candidates. All was going well until the Malta leaks scandal broke in 2021 and this has virtually put the program to a coma.


The Bulgarian program has always been in the shadow of the Maltese and the Cypriot CIPs. In fact, the Bulgarian CIP has been so beneficial to the applicants that there were no money to be made by the international agents. Therefore they have been simply ignoring it throughout the years, trying to push the Maltese and the Cypriot CIPs instead. Nobody can’t blame them; we all know it is the “Money makes the world go round” mindset. But because of its low profile, the Bulgarian CIP survived and was revamped in March 2021.

The switch from citizenship to residence

So in a nutshell, the hens that laid the golden eggs were “slaughtered” in 2020-2021. The one that survived the massacre – the Bulgarian hen lays golden eggs too, but only for the citizenship candidates. The international immigration agents can’t make any money out of it. So what did they do? They switched to investment residence, AKA “Golden Visa”. Simply, because any “EU Golden visa” is more expensive than is the “Bulgarian Golden passport”.

The Portuguese Golden Visa – the new lure

In 2021, there were several residence by investment programs that were tempting the immigration agents to strike again. These residence programs were to replace the Maltese and the Cypriot CIPs as a revenue venue.

Greece was the first candidate. The Greek Golden visa was the hot ticket for quite some time. But the Portuguese were the ones who won the battle. After all, the Portuguese have the Angolans – in dire need to get hold of a better passport. And the Brazilians, who can travel visa-free to the EU, but relocating is off the imaginable with a Brazilian passport.

As of now, August 2021, the Portuguese Golden visa program is the ultimate winner in the EU. The program for permanent residence of Portugal is now marketed with the aggressiveness once the Cypriot CIP was promoted around the world. But is the program of Portugal worth the cost it comes with? Are the conditions of the Portuguese program even to be compared to the citizenship by investment program of Bulgaria? You can read the professional analysis: the Portuguese golden visa or the Bulgarian golden passport, which is better?

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