By Bob Bauman JD

Expats looking for a second or retirement home could do well to turn their attention to this sunny Mediterranean island nation. Hot, dry summers and mild winters produce a vibrant lifestyle similar to that found in Sicily, Greece, or Spain.

What this island lacks in sandy beaches, it makes up for with an energetic sailing culture, and with numerous bays along the indented coastline of islands proving good harbors.

As well as being a nice place to spend time, this country also offers another benefit…its passport.

Having a passport from this country is one of the world’s best travel documents, with visa-free travel to 170 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, and it grants access to all of the benefits of the 27 European Union countries.  

Citizenship is usually conferred by birth and also by descent with at least one parent being a citizen of the country. Any foreigner who becomes a citizen is allowed to hold dual citizenship. The law also grants the same rights to the foreign husband of a citizen as those already enjoyed by the foreign wife of a citizen.

Also, foreigners married to citizens will continue to enjoy residential and employment privileges on the death of the naturalized spouse. Any person may apply for citizenship after having resided here for at least five years.

If you don’t qualify for a passport under those criteria, there is another option. This island nation offers a desirable economic citizenship, or “citizenship by investment.”

A major change in immigration law was adopted in 2014 with the Individual Investor Program (IIP). It offers citizenship in a stable EU member state, an efficient application process, and strict due diligence standards and vetting of applicants. EU citizenship gives the right of establishment in all 27 EU countries. The IIP confers full citizenship for life, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.

All individuals and families applying to the IIP must make a contribution to the government’s National Development and Social Fund. As an applicant, you must also commit to retaining a residence in the country for a period of at least five years, either through the purchase of a property or through leasing of a property.

IIP candidates must have clean criminal records. They must also produce a medical certificate confirming that they and their dependents aren’t suffering from any contagious diseases and are in good health. Once an applicant has undergone an initial due diligence process, a new government agency will subject applicants and their families to background checks. In some cases, a request for a personal interview may occur.

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