Wealthy Vietnamese advised to ‘buy’ European citizenship
VietNamNet Bridge - As the governments of the US, Australia and Canada have tightened their immigration policies, Vietnamese consultancy firms are now advising wealthy Vietnamese to apply for citizenship in countries which have more open regulations, especially in Europe.

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Only when Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong, a businesswoman, was dismissed as a National Assembly delegate, after she was found holding Malta citizenship, did people realize that many wealthy Vietnamese seek foreign citizenship. 

There are many consultancy firms which promise to help them obtain citizenship. The consultants suggest European citizenship instead of the US, as the US EB5 Program has become too strict with new regulations.

The attractiveness of European citizenship includes quick approval, the required minimum number of days of stay (7-14 days a year in the first years), and no requirement on age limitation and native language.

It takes 3-4 months to obtain Malta, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus citizenship, while but 16-17 months to obtain US citizenship. The countries also offer attractive tax incentives for non-residential citizens.

As the governments of the US, Australia and Canada have tightened their immigration policies, Vietnamese consultancy firms are now advising wealthy Vietnamese to apply for citizenship in countries which have more open regulations, especially in Europe.
Quang Hung, a consultant, said some European countries apply relatively ‘loose’ requirements on taxation, such as Malta, Cyprus and Cayman. This partially explains why the European settlement programs attract many Vietnamese.

Hung revealed that after Nguyet Huong was dismissed as a National Assembly deputy, the number of clients decreased. However, now business has resumed because most of his clients are businessmen and don’t intend to go into politics.

According to Hung, the number of investors is limited for every investment program, while the required investment level increases. The IPP (individual Investor Program) of Malta, for example, required the minimum investment capital of 1 million euros, but only 1,800 will be accepted. Meanwhile, the US EB-5 Program requires minimum investment capital of $500,000, but there are only 700 seats for each country.

If people want to invest in the US, they are advised to invest in real estate, especially in relic restoration projects. However, the procedures would be very complicated.

The investment programs in Europe are less diverse than in the US, but the conditions are believed to be easier. Some countries don’t ask investors to prove their money is clean.

In Hungary, investors just need to buy 300,000 euros worth of 5-year government bonds. In Portugal, investors need to buy existing real estate worth at least 500,000 euros and keep the assets for five years. 

Ireland requires investment capital of 500,000 euros in projects designated by the government. Cyprus requires investment of 1.7 million euros in real estate which investors can sell after three years.


VNE

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