US Citizen Looking For EU Citizenship

Hi all,

I’m a US citizen looking for the fastest option towards EU citizenship.

I was ready to pull the trigger on the Portuguese GV, but then heard about the 2 year wait to even begin the process due to the SEF.

I am willing to contribute/invest upwards $1M but would not like to reside in the country for no more than a few days/weeks. I am trying to eventually get my way into Switzerland, as I have visited many times and loved the country.

I appreciate your inputs :slight_smile:

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At the time of writing, there is no Citizenship By Investment programme for the EU. As you’ve correctly pointed out, the Portuguese GV (which was a residency by investment programme) is about to close (if you haven’t started the process, it’s too late now). That was the closest one to your requirements as you’ve stated them.

The only other programs that come to mind are Greece (no stay requirements to maintain residency, but citizenship will require residence for 7 years), Spain (similar to Greece, but Spain doesn’t allow dual citizenship) and Malta (which might come close to what you need, but again it’s best to check whether citizenship entails residence requirements).

The Portuguese GV/ARI isn’t closing - it’s just that you can no longer apply using an investment in real estate. It will remain open to new applicants who invest in an equity or venture capital fund.

Cyprus is closed. I believe Malta is open but requires 1-3 years actual residence and a large non-recoverable donation. Austria maybe, but they want several million EUR, and it’s not quick. The other alternatives as JohnS suggests require many years of actual residence.

I think that’s it, unless you qualify by descent, somewhere like Ireland, Poland, Italy etc. Or take a punt on somewhere that might, one day, join the EU.

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That is objectively false. Austria offers a citizenship by investment program for very wealthy participants, leading to a passport in as little as two years:

Curiously, the EU does not object to this program, whereas it has vengefully targeted Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria, and any other program that is affordable to the hoi-polloi.

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Good point, although not too many options left, and none of them do CBI anymore last time I checked (at least officially they don’t). So you’d need to look for a non-EU GV-type residence, ie. the one with low physical presence requirement.

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My Plan B is to campaign for Welsh independence

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My understanding of the Austrian program is that even after making a substantial contribution to the country beyond the financial, the government pick & choose who actually gets citizenship (unlike other programs where its simply AML checks etc)

Here’s a quote from one of the promoters…

“While the programme offers significant benefits in the form of one of the most sought-after citizenships worldwide the investment, commitment and timeframe is far in excess of other programmes without any guarantee of success.”

Sounds a bit like joining a Private Members club, and after putting up $10m+ that’s pretty tough.

This may explain why the EU hasn’t complained yet.

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Thanks for your replies and the conversations. Wow, it’s insane how critical the EU has become of wealthy individuals with clean background checks. Meanwhile…

Not only that, but while you might not need so much boots-on-the-ground, it does require a really significant commitment of brainpower and time, because you have to actually own and operate a business entity that Does Something Meaningful and Hires People, AFAIK. Which means you’re engaging and interacting with Austria and its people in a meaningful way. And no doubt it is discretionary.

Germany has a residency program that’s something like this, though the path to citizenship is a little less straightforward.

BTW, even if you have a ton of money, Swiss citizenship is not easy. The upshot of the entire program is that (a) you need to LIVE there (b) you have to learn at least two of the languages to a pretty decent level (c) you have to “successfully integrate”, which is pretty much “whatever the people of the canton you live in believe counts as ‘integrate’”. For someone who isn’t married to a Swiss citizen and/or hasn’t managed to get a work permit and lived there for a really long time, or isn’t into many-8-figures and thus can buy off the right canton, it’s this side of impossible. I’d have loved to do it too. I now regret that I didn’t go chase after that job with a swiss firm decades ago when I was a hotshot unix admin and there were so few of us on the planet that we could write our ticket anywhere.

I suspect that it always has been. However, it was one thing when it was a handful of people. Now, there’s bunches of people who want to take this path, and that wasn’t what they wanted, however nice the money might be. It’s the same thing as the overall migrant problem. It’s nice to have SOME immigrants, but when it gets to be A LOT of immigrants then people start really objecting, whatever the benefits might be. This is just human nature at play.


Right, I understand the challenges for Swiss citizenship, but I do plan on living there and integrating. It was my goal to find an easier path into the EU so I could have Schengen access and thus a way into Switzerland.

If it’s too many people, maybe they should raise the requirements instead of cutting the program off… but I’m not a politician so what do I know

Thanks for the reply

I’m not criticizing, but I don’t understand. How does EU citizenship help with Swiss residency? Schengen lets you be in the country part time, but no more or less so than with your US citizenship. What else is it buying you? You are going to need to actually get Swiss residency one way or the other in order to start the 10 year clock and EU residency/citizenship doesn’t help with that at all, in any way I’m aware of. So what is your game plan? I’m curious.

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Great question. It’s much easier to get residency with/without employment as an EU citizen than a US citizen. I would be going for the B permit via residency without employment meaning you just need to prove you can sustain yourself without working and having health insurance.

Also, for US citizens, the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding between the Swiss and Americans provides a pathway for US citizens to gain Swiss permanent residence within 5 years of residency.

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That is a fair point. Interesting approach. Long row to hoe, but…

That’s interesting - never heard of that memorandum. Good to know. Reference?

It indeed is difficult and I don’t know why. TAKE MY MONEY!

This is an interesting and noteworthy approach

I would not necessarily recommend the Portuguese GV at this point. The torrent of delays and lack of visibility into the process is seriously eroding trust in the programme. 2 years is starting to look like an underestimate.

If you’re interested in getting to Switzerland as an American and starting the clock on a C-permit, the easiest ways to do this by far would be to find an employer who is willing to sponsor you (difficult), or to get accepted to a university and come in as a student (reasonably straightforward, but possibly not aligned with your current life plans).

They don’t want you. Simple as that.

They’re happy to take your money, but Switzerland is already an insanely wealthy country, and lots of people are happy to hand them their money without insisting on residence. Why bother with you? What’s it in for them?

If they made it easy, lots of people would move there because it is nice and pretty and rich, and it’d muck up their way of life. So why fer gossakes do it?

It’s easy to say that but then you see what type of people the EU is letting in for free. It makes no sense, but that’s a different conversation.

Right, and the employer has to prove that they cannot hire any Swiss or EU citizen that would have your capability.

I was speaking to Switzerland, not the EU. Very different conversation. :slight_smile: