Best Citizenship by Investment Programmes available for Iranians, Russians

Over the years, both Iranians and Russians have grappled with the challenge of achieving increased mobility due to ongoing geopolitical upheavals within their respective homelands.

Best Citizenship by Investment Programmes available for Iranians, Russians
Best Citizenship by Investment Programmes available for Iranians, Russians

Over the years, both Iranians and Russians have grappled with the challenge of achieving increased mobility due to ongoing geopolitical upheavals within their respective homelands. Every year, a significant number of individuals from both nations make the difficult decision to relocate and seek asylum in foreign countries, driven by the shared desire to ensure a more promising and stable future for themselves and their families.

In these complex circumstances, affluent Iranians and Russians often explore more streamlined paths, such as participating in Citizenship by Investment Programmes, also known as Economic Citizenship Programmes.

However, the availability of such pathways for Iranians and Russians to attain citizenship by investment remains constrained, with only a limited number of these programmes accessible to them.

European Programmes Allowing Iranian & Russian Investors

Turkey: Iranians and Russians are eligible to apply for the Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme, which provides a relatively expedited path to citizenship. Under this programme, eligible investors can achieve Turkish citizenship within approximately 6 months. The programme requires a minimum investment in real estate, capital investment, or job creation.

This programme offers four distinct investment options: a US$400,000 investment in real estate, a US$500,000 cash deposit at a Turkish bank, a US$500,000 cash purchase of government bonds, or the creation of a minimum of 50 jobs in Turkey through an approved business venture. Upon acquiring Turkish citizenship through this programme, Iranian and Russian citizens gain access to an array of benefits.

Portugal: Iranians are eligible to apply for the Portugal Residency by Investment Programme, often referred to as the Golden Visa programme however Russians are not allowed due to the sanctions. This pathway allows investors also those from Iran to obtain Portuguese residency by making a qualifying investment in real estate or other eligible assets. After maintaining residency for a continuous period of 5 years, individuals can then apply for Portuguese citizenship. The minimum investment starts from US$ 3,84,209 (€`350,000) onwards

Spain: With a minimum investment of US$5,48,925 (€500,000), Iranians can apply for the Spanish Golden Visa Programme, which offers a route to Spanish residency by investment. Similarly, Russians are also not eligible.

This programme enables investors to obtain a residency permit by investing in real estate, public debt, or job creation in Spain.

While it doesn’t provide a direct path to citizenship, individuals can apply for permanent residency after 5 years, and then citizenship after 10 years of legal residency.

Greece: Iranians are also eligible to apply for the Greek Golden Visa Programme, which allows for residency in Greece through investment. By investing in real estate, individuals and their families can obtain Greek residency. After 5 years of continuous residency, applicants have the option to apply for Greek citizenship. A minimum investment to qualify for Greek residency US$2,74,510 (€250,000).

As of March 8, 2022, Russians are not eligible to apply for the Greek Golden Visa program or the Greek Citizenship by Investment programme. The Greek government suspended these programs for Russian citizens in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The suspension is in effect until further notice.

The US EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 Visa presents a unique opportunity for Iranian investors seeking a new life in the United States. This immigrant investor visa not only offers the prospect of a US green card, ensuring permanent residence for approved applicants, but also grants the freedom for Iranian investors and their dependents to establish permanent roots and pursue professional aspirations within the United States.

To qualify, the EB5 Visa mandates a minimum investment in a US business, with a crucial stipulation that this investment must result in the creation of a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, thereby contributing to local economic growth and prosperity.

Whereas, Russians are eligible to apply for the EB-5 visa, Russian investors who invest in job-creating businesses in the United States. However, there are some restrictions on them who are eligible for the EB-5 visa.

• Russian citizens who have been denied a visa to the United States in the past are not eligible for the EB-5 visa.
• Russian citizens who have been involved in criminal activity or terrorism are not eligible for the EB-5 visa.
• Russian citizens who have been subjected to a security or law enforcement check and have been found to be a threat to national security are not eligible for the EB-5 visa.

The Dominica Citizenship by Investment Programme

Dominica also allow applicants from Iran. With a minimum investment of US$ 100,000 into the Economic Diversification Fund or US$200,000 into Real Estate, successful Iranian citizens can obtain alternative citizenship from this Caribbean country. This programme is regarded one robust in terms of due-diligence deployed to carry out multi-layered background checks on all applicants with no exception to Iran.

In contrast, Russians have been excluded from this opportunity. The government of Dominica suspended the CBI program for Russian citizens in March 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The suspension is in effect until further notice.

UK Entrepreneur Visa

The UK government’s Entrepreneur visa scheme has extended its reach, allowing individuals from Iran to explore business opportunities and set up business in the United Kingdom.

The programme, designed to attract international talent and boost the country’s economic growth, offers ambitious entrepreneurs from around the globe a chance to relocate and establish their ventures in the UK. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a viable business idea, secure a minimum financial investment (the exact amount may vary), and meet other specific criteria set out by the Home Office.

Successful applicants benefit not only from access to the UK’s robust market but also from its resources, networks, and potential to scale their businesses globally. With the inclusion of Iranian nationals, the UK further underscores its commitment to fostering international collaboration and innovation.

Whereas, Russians are not eligible for the UK Entrepreneur visa as of August 2023. The UK government suspended the program for Russians in February 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The suspension is currently in effect for an indefinite period of time.

A Glimmer of Hope

These Citizenship by Investment Programmes offer Iranians and Russians a glimmer of hope in the midst of uncertainty. While these programmes require financial investment, these provides an easy chance for individuals and families to secure a fresh start in foreign lands, free from the constraints of their homeland’s challenges.

The applicants from Iran are also subject to undergo due diligence procedures, in some cases harder than the others to ensure that they do have decent background. The High-Net-Worth Individuals view citizenship by investment programmes as an easy escape from the challenges of their home country.

Citizens of Iran and Russia are required to obtain visa before travelling to any major destination which is one of the major driving force behind people opting for such programmes. Currently, the Iranian passport allows visa free travel to less than 50 countries globally and mainly restricts the citizens from going to other countries without requiring a prior visa or other documentation.

Due to these situations, many Iranians and Russians seek strong citizenships to expand their global footprints. These citizenship/residency by investment programmes within the Europe enables Iranian and Russian business owners or entrepreneurs to travel with ease.