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Many (most? all?) countries allow non-citizens to effectively "buy" a passport, although they may not always phrase it that way. For instance, by agreeing to invest Euro X and start a business employing Y citizens, one can obtain citizenship in several countries.

What would be the cheapest way for a non-EU citizen to obtain an EU passport?

Some such schemes do not award citizenship, merely permanent residency. For the purposes of this question, let's say that that would be acceptable if it offered approximately equivalent rights to citizenship - say, health care, pension, Schengen travel rights, that sort of thing. It need not be inheritable.


Related question, but applies to UK Commonwealth & the accepted answer was "UK", so not really helpful.


https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-45335620/reality-check-how-easy-is-it-to-buy-eu-citizenship

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    Permanent residency never offers equivalent rights as citizenship. Especially for small countries like Malta, whichever rights you can obtain in Malta do not seem all that attractive compared to EU freedom of movement rights and that goes with citizenship. – Relaxed Jan 11 '18 at 23:03
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    What's EUE? Do you mean EUR? – phoog Jan 12 '18 at 1:15
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    @Relaxed Don't permanent residents also get freedom of movement with their residence permit? – xji Jan 16 '18 at 0:32
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    @JIXiang No, generally not. After 5 years, they do get some limited rights under EU law but that's a far cry from the freedom of movement as it applies to EU citizens. – Relaxed Jan 16 '18 at 7:08
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TL;DR: Hungary has the option to invest in €360.000, from which you get €300.000 back fully after 5 years with a long term residency that allows free Schengen travels

Hungary recently introduced a residency bond program, which will allow you for visa free Schengen travels, and a lifetime residency after 5 years. The minimum you have to invest is €250.000 (and pay around €110.000 extra fees), but you get most of the money back after 5 years, making this a very attractive (and also very controversial) way to get a Schengen visa.

I couldn't find a proper English version of the actual law (which is not surprising, given you can only invest through government approved, but usually offshore companies, which is partly the reason why this option is controversial), but here is an excerpt from the FAQ from one of these middleman companies:

WHAT IS THE HUNGARIAN RESIDENCY BOND PROGRAM?

The Hungarian Parliament adopted a new regulation regarding 'investor residency' in Hungary. This Program offers permanent residency under preferential conditions for non-EU nationals who have at least EUR 360,000 to invest. Please note that EUR 300,000 will be refunded to you after 5 years.

IS THE RESIDENCY BOND PROGRAM APPROVED BY THE HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT?

Yes. A law, passed on 11th December 2012 and modified in 2014, offers permanent residency in Hungary for non-EU nationals willing to invest in government residency bonds.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM?

The main advantage is that you and your family become a permanent resident in Hungary, a member country of European Union thus you can move freely within Schengen countries in Europe (Schengen visa).

IS THE PROGRAM POPULAR?

Hungarian Residency Bond Program is getting popular: number of residence permits issued increases enormously. Until now more than 3429 Residency Government Bonds have been purchased. Hungarian authorities hope that the trend will continue in 2016 as well.

The law in Hungarian can be read here.

Note that because of the controversial nature of the program, and recent debates in the Parliament about it, it's highly likely it will end soon, although anyone who had already invested will still be fine

Also this first only gives you residency rights to remain in the county indefinitely, you will need to apply for citizenship after 8 years (which this visa allows)

(Originally posted on https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/63870/residency-citizenship-fast-tracked-through-investment/63877#63877)

  • But would this allow you to apply for citizenship? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 13 '18 at 6:15
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    @JonathanReez this only gives you residency rights (with the benefits asked by the OP - pension, healthcare, Schengen travel rights), and allows naturalization after 8 years. – SztupY Jan 13 '18 at 10:47

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