How to choose a reliable service provider for alternative residency or citizenship applications

29/03/2024

One of the features of our times is the growing demand for alternative residency or citizenship. Indeed, around the world it ranks increasingly as a necessity. Although it is often assumed that political instability drives people to consider alternative residency or citizenship, that is actually only half the story. In fact, there are many reasons why people seek to have an alternative to their country of origin.

A common reason is health and well-being, for example. Living in a country where the climate is mild, the quality of life is good, and high standard health care is accessible and affordable can make all the difference, especially in later years. Another reason could be the opportunity to own your own home – something which is becoming increasingly difficult in countries where property prices can be prohibitive. Families often are interested in affordable education, while entrepreneurs look into tax planning and freedom of movement across several countries. As investment migration Yiannos Trisokkas put it: “Alternative residency or citizenship is the best way to achieve the human aspirations and hopes for a better future.”

Anyone considering alternative residency or citizenship should, however, make sure to have access to comprehensive and reliable information that will help identify the best or most suitable destinations and options, depending on the investor’s means and expectations. Finding the right advisor and authorized representative who will help you submit your application makes all the difference.

Crucial general criteria

First, consider the destinations that match your expectations and eliminate any jurisdictions where you are not confident that the law will be implemented. Once you’ve done that and start looking for a service provider to advise you, it is often helpful to ask for recommendations. Yet with or without recommendations, there are many tangible indicators that will help you assess the experience and expertise of a service provider.

  • Professionalism

Start by verifying the service provider’s professional status through online searches for website, professional bios, and reviews or testimonials over a longer period of time. Then take a closer look at the service provider’s general track record and business activity. Find out if they are active experts in the field: Do they publish and share their insights and analysis on market trends? Do they demonstrate an understanding of your needs as an investor?

  • Specific programme experience

Find out if they have experience in the particular programmes you are interested in and are able to explain the strengths of the options you are considering and the differences between them. In particular, you want to make sure that you are dealing with someone who has up-to-date information on the programme you are interested in, as governments regularly review their criteria and issue amendments.

A case in point is Greece and the government’s Golden Visa programme. As from August 2023, the minimum investment to be eligible for the programme was raised from €250.000 to €500.000 in some of the most desirable locations. A well-informed agent who knows both the Greek real estate market and the hidden gems in attractive locations will be able to guide you to promising investments that qualify for the programme with the lower threshold of €250.000.

  • Real estate industry experience

As most such programmes involve investment in real estate, another key factor is the extent of your service provider’s experience and knowledge of the local real estate market, to help you choose a property that matches your short- and long-term investment plans.

  • Professional support network

Is your prospective service provider supported by a network of independent, professional legal partners you could consult directly? And do they have previous experience with applicants and investors from your country, to be aware of any pitfalls? It is crucial to ensure that your service provider and the whole support team are completely independent (not acting as advisors for any government programme) and can offer impartial advice. Furthermore, they must have procedures in place that allow them to process your application remotely.

  • Red flags

Finally, cost and payment can be clear red flags. Processing an application for alternative residency or citizenship involves quite a bit of paperwork that requires experience, expertise, time – and corresponding fees. Beware of promises or offers that sound ‘too good to be true’. They probably are. Service providers that insist on collecting full payment themselves – rather than asking you to make specific payments to the government and the property developer directly – should be questioned.

Keep the above in mind, ask questions, remember you have a right to complete information and transparency, and you are one step closer to acquiring alternative residency or citizenship that can offer you and your family amazing benefits.

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