Discover the key differences between citizenship by investment and residency by investment

Citizenship and residency by investment (RBI) programmes are two types of investor visas.

Both offer eligible individuals a route to securing legal status in a foreign country. While RBI schemes share similarities with citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes, the two differ in several ways.

Below, you will find everything you need to know about the difference between citizenship and residency by investment. This includes an overview of each and the key differences between the two.

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What is residency by investment?

Countries around the world offer similar programs. However, most of these are found in European countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece. These programs are popular as they provide visa-free travel in the Schengen Zone.

What is citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes have grown in popularity in recent years due to the benefits they offer investors and their families. At their core, these schemes provide citizenship in return for an investment in the country.

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Use our handy comparison tool to compare all our programmes side by side in order to understand the difference between a range of citizenship and residency programmes we offer in a variety of countries around the world. Find the best fit for you!

What is residency by investment?

Residency by investment (RBI) programmes allow foreign nationals and their families to secure residency in another country. This is achieved by making a qualifying capital investment in the host country.

Investments are usually in the form of real estate, but different programmes offer different routes to securing residency.

RBI schemes are also known as investor visas or Golden Visas. They typically grant the right to live, work and study in that country.

What is residency by investment?

Advantages of residency by investment

A residency by investment scheme typically offers the ability to live, work and study in a country. Depending on the programme, investors can access the country’s education and healthcare systems.

Some schemes also offer tax incentives. For example, the Portugal Golden Visa (PGV) allows applicants to apply for non-habitual tax resident (NHR) status. This can result in substantial tax savings.

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What is citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment (CBI) is a pathway for foreign investors and their families to obtain citizenship rights in another country. Like RBI programmes, this is achieved by making a qualifying financial investment in the host country.

CBI schemes offer various types of investment options. Some of these include real estate investments, buying government bonds, business ventures, and charitable contributions.

Benefits of citizenship by investment

CBI schemes grant foreign individuals full rights and privileges of a citizen, and most programmes allow for dual citizenship. This includes the ability to reside, work, and access various services in the country.

Successful applicants can also obtain a passport in their country of citizenship. This can increase their global mobility by providing visa-free travel to more countries.

View our Citizenship programmes in detail

Residency vs citizenship: key differences between the two

Both citizenship and residency by investment schemes share some similarities. For example, both offer similar investment options.

However, there are some key differences between the two types of investor visas. These include:

Passport Eligibility

Probably the most significant difference between residency and citizenship schemes is the ability to secure a passport.

Neither temporary or permanent residents can apply for a passport in their host country. However, once you become a citizen, you have the right to apply for a passport.

Residency Requirements

With most residency by investment programmes, there is a minimum stay requirement. This is the minimum period (in days) you must be in the country to maintain your residence status. However, for citizens, there are often no residency requirements.


Citizenship is a permanent status, meaning it is granted for life. It can also be inherited by future generations. Meanwhile, residency is usually temporary.

RBI programmes typically grant temporary residence permits. However, some do grant a permanent residence permit.

Temporary residence permits usually last either two or five years. After that time, they must be renewed.

Legal Status

The legal status that each type of investor visa grants is another stand-out difference between the two.

Citizenship is the highest level of legal status in a country. CBI schemes allow successful applicants to gain full citizenship rights. This includes the right to vote in elections.

The rules around voting rights differ from country to country. But in general, residents do not have the right to vote.

How to choose the right option for you

Residency and citizenship programmes both offer unique benefits and opportunities. The right option for you will depend on your circumstances, goals and several other factors.

Potential investors should seek professional advice to make an informed decision on which option is right for them.

Holborn Pass is an international leader in investor visas. We provide comprehensive support and solutions for clients who wish to secure citizenship or residency in another country.

Our experts will help you find the right programme for you and help guide you through the process from start to finish.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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